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Container Handling in Intermodal Nodes - Optimal and Secure!

Transport operators currently face several challenges, which are driven by commercial, legal/security and technical factors. CHINOS will support operators to exploit these challenges in the best possible way by employing innovative IT technology solutions such as radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. This combination of commercial and security issues in one approach makes CHINOS quite unique.

Tags: Multimodal


Operators of container terminals (seaports, inland ports, freight villages, rail/road intermodal terminals) and transport are currently facing several challenges that not only put additional burden on them but also offer potentials for process optimisation at the same time. There are several drivers for this project: commercial (how to cope with continuous rising cargo volumes to be handled), legal/security (how to deal with new security rules and regulations for fighting against terrorism, and the change of responsibilities in the chain), and technology (how best to integrate technologies such as RFID transponders for container identification and electronic seals, combining the benefits of classical bolt seals with RFID capabilities). All these drivers form a complex area that the CHINOS project wants to support.


CHINOS will support operators in exploiting the current challenges on commercial, legal/security and technical levels in the best possible way by employing innovative IT technology solutions. Processes can be optimised and accelerated tremendously by using automatic identification and condition checks with contact-free reading possibilities (container RFID tags, electronic seals, optical checks) without requiring human intervention. CHINOS terminal operators are able to optimise their storage space and to enhance the integration of transport modes along intermodal logistics chains by re-designing the procedures at their interfaces. Since the full benefit from new technologies can only be exploited if the total integration of (re-engineered) business processes and IT systems will be achieved, CHINOS will put a special focus on this integration work and carry out demonstrations at several European locations.

As RFID technology has not been used in container transport so far, transport users and authorities are not fully aware of the potentials offered for logistic and security purposes with regard to process automation, reduction of processing errors, increase of reliability, enhancement of status monitoring along the chain, fulfilment of security requirements, etc. CHINOS will help identify and open up the potentials of this new technology.

North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven (NTB)
North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven (NTB)
North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven GmbH & Co.

Description of work

The main objective of CHINOS is to optimise container handling in intermodal nodes by using innovative IT technology. The most challenging applications are the identification of cargo and equipment, and the detection of their status from both the economic and the security aspect. It is important to exploit the potentials of the RFID technology to the best possible extent for intermodal container logistics and security. Special emphasis will be laid on process integration and how the new technologies can be best embedded into existing (or re-engineered) business processes and IT systems along the chain in order to enhance the efficiency, information and service quality, security, speed of operation, and use of storage space on vehicles and in yards. CHINOS will concentrate on containers; however, the results can be transferred to other cargo units like swap bodies or semi-trailers.

CHINOS will research a methodology for the integration of container identification information using RFID technology, container security-related information (electronic seals), and optical container condition information (high-resolution images) in intermodal transport nodes thus supporting the business processes within the nodes and the total transport chains. An integrated prototype system for automatic container identification based on RFID-technology and optical damage documentation will be developed. It will be installed at European intermodal container handling nodes and operated under real-life conditions in order to validate the functionality, scalability and portability to other end-user scenarios. Furthermore, supporting the chain perspective, hinterland transport is included in the project by involving inland terminal operators, freight village operators and railway operators.


The results of the CHINOS project will improve both efficiency and security of container handling throughout the entire transport chain, taking into consideration the specific user requirements and needs of all stakeholders ranging from shipping companies, forwarders, freight owners and port operators to insurance companies and government agencies. By fostering the deployment of electronic seals, CHINOS will contribute to international efforts in the fight against terrorism and will support activities like the American Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the expected corresponding European initiatives.

CHINOS results will be ready-for-the-market IT tools (Automatic Container Identification Unit, Damage Documentation System, Communication Controller(s), Chain Event Manager) as well as technical and organisational recommendations on how to exploit these new technologies efficiently so as to be prepared for the actual and upcoming challenges.