Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Box or the Chocolates?

I believe it was Vance Packard, in his seminal book, The Hidden Persuaders that told the story of how Whitman© Chocolates used to spend more on developing and producing the box in which the chocolates were sold then on the chocolates themselves. The packaging was more important then the chocolates to selling the product. Human nature? Perhaps. A sustainable solution? No.

Think Lindt ® chocolates.

This same myopic approach seems to be driving the discussion about Container security and monitoring solutions. The technology discussion is trumping the business imperative. Truth is, after determining the technologies reliability, flexibility and ease of use, users -- the 3PLs and their clients, the consignees -- don’t care about the engineering or hardware.

Think iPod®.

The optimal container monitoring solution recognizes:

  • The box (Container) is not important: it’s the goods inside the Container that matters
  • The truck or Vessel that delivers the goods is not important: it’s the goods in the box’s on the truck or Vessel that matters
  • The cost of the box is not material, the cost of the cargo is


Net net ,,, it’s the contents that matter, not the box, not the vessel, not the truck and not the technology. The monitoring industry needs to recognize that importers and exporters will not adopt a solution that’s proprietary, infrastructure dependent, inflexible, complex or expensive.

The importers and exporters will adopt a monitoring technology that is:

  • Flexible, portable and reliable
  • Infrastructure free to be deployed globally
  • Interoperable with existing supply chain solutions and client applications
  • Configurable to the clients business requirements
  • Beneficial to the business, reducing costs and improving financial performance


Again, think iPod®.

And think universal, flexible, portable, globally deployable, interoperable, configurable and beneficial.

  • Flexible: monitoring service can work with dry, reefer or tank containers
  • Portable: monitoring device moves to the container, any container, as required
  • Reliable: 99.9% service availability for global track, trace and monitor
  • Globally deployable, infrastructure free, the service follows the cargo, not vice versa
  • Interoperable: monitoring service can be integrated with other technologies (RFID, Bar Code and emerging technologies) and applications, ERP’s, SC solutions and client proprietary applications
  • Configurable: the monitoring service sensors, business events, alerts and reporting has to be client configurable to the requirements for the specific trip.
  • Beneficial: the service must enable clients to recognize real costs savings from the supply chain, thereby improving overall financial performance.


Any monitoring service that is dependent on the container (the box), difficult to deploy globally because of a dependency of external infrastructure, layers on an incompatible application, and fails to produce financially beneficial results, won’t be adopted by the logistics industry or their clients, the consignees.

For proof of this assertion, look at the existing adoption rate of deployed container monitoring solutions, it won’t take you long.

(by Arthur Radford)

iPod® is a trademark of Apple Corporation.
Lindt® is a trademark of Lindt & Sprungli

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Beijing-Hamburg freight service completes maiden journey

This latest news from Deutsche Bahn is another evidence, that Globalization, compliance and sustainability challenges create new business opportunities for LSPs!

Real-time visibility certainly can support these new business opportunities.

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Beijing-Hamburg freight service completes maiden journey
by Staff Writers


Hamburg, Germany (AFP) Jan 24, 2008


A goods train from Beijing arrived in Hamburg on Thursday after having crossed six countries in a journey organisers said could ring in a new era of rail transport between Asia and Europe.
The "Beijing-Hamburg Container Express" left the Chinese capital on January 9 with its cargo of shoes, toys and electronic goods and covered the distance of 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) in 15 days, Germany's state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn said.
The company's logistics chief, Norbert Bensel, said the inaugural journey on the new rail route had delivered its cargo in roughly half the time it would have taken to arrive in the northern German port city by sea.
The sea journey takes about 30 days.
"The test train was a success. We have demonstrated that we can transport goods by rail between China and Germany safely, reliably and yet twice as fast as compared with ships," Bensel said.
"At the same time, we are considerably cheaper than air freight for many types of cargo."
The "Container Express" made its way from China to Germany through Mongolia, Russia, Belarus and Poland.
It is the brainchild of Deutsche Bahn chief Harmut Mehdorn who wants to improve and increase rail transport between Europe and China as the Asian giant establishes itself as a vital trade partner for the continent.
Mehdorn said administrative cooperation with the transfer countries needed to be finetuned and infrastructure improved, but he believed that "by the end of the decade we can aim at launching regular freight transport services along this axis."