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Quality Digest

Standards

Secure Shipping Container Tracking

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - 22:00

(ISO: Geneva) -- With international trade largely dependent on freight containers, a new International Organization for Standardization standard on the technology used to track their movement has the potential to minimize handling costs, improve inventory tracking and availability of accurate real-time information, and create a safe and secure international supply chain regime.

“Tracking freight containers in their movement is essential,” says Craig K. Harmon, chair of a joint working group on supply chain applications of radio frequency identification (RFID). “The publication of ISO 17363:2007 will provide a synergistic means of tracking freight containers throughout the supply chain from creation to consumption to recyclability to reuse.”

The supply chain is the overall process that results in goods being transported from the point of origin to a final destination and includes the movement of the goods, the shipping data and the associated processes, including the dynamic links between the different participants. As goods move through the supply chain, there are significant benefits in being able to track products in their movement, including loss prevention, inventory control, and in-transit visibility.

An RFID system tracks moving objects by enabling data to be transmitted by a mobile device or tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application. The transmitted data may provide identification or location information or specifics about the tagged product, such as price, color or date of purchase; likewise an entire shipping manifest can be encoded.

ISO 17363:2007, “Supply chain applications of RFID—Freight containers,” defines the usage of read/write RFID shipment tags for supply chain management. It defines the air-interface communications, a common set of required data structures, and a commonly organized set of optional data requirements.

Freight containers may incorporate three specific-use RF tags, says Harmon. The first is one that uniquely identifies the freight container for its lifetime (ISO 10891, formerly known as ISO 10374), a second that permits an automatic interrogation of a container seal to identify whether the container has been a victim of unauthorized tampering (ISO 18185), and a third that can include a complete encrypted manifest of the container’s contents (ISO 17363). The combined utility of these three unique devices enable both a secure and efficient transportation environment for freight containers.

ISO 17363:2007 is intended to be used by RFID manufacturers, vendors and end-users. It is the first publication in a suite of standards soon to be published for supply chain application of RFID being undertaken by ISO/TC 122—“Packaging,” and ISO/TC 104—“Freight containers,” that include the following:
•   ISO/FDIS 17364—“Supply chain applications of RFID–Returnable transport items
•   ISO/FDIS 17365—“Supply chain applications of RFID–Transport units
•   ISO/FDIS 17366—“Supply chain applications of RFID–Product packaging RFID–Transport units
•   ISO/FDIS 17367—“Supply chain applications of RFID–Product tagging

For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1067

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