How eDelivery is changing logistics for the better and for good
After a successful message exchange pilot, Portuguese port administrations chose eDelivery as their preferred means for communication.
@Port of Leixões by Steidi / Adobe Stock
- Project: e-IMPACT
- Locations: Ports of Lisbon and Leixões in Portugal; Port of Trieste in Italy; Ports of Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Świnoujście in Poland.
- Project coordinator: Port Administration of Lisbon, Portugal
- Challenge: How to simplify and reduce the cost of exchanging information between the different actors across transportation modes and borders?
- Solution: Use e-Freight to exchange standards compliant messages through the e-Delivery network
- Building Block: eDelivery
- EU funded: 50%
Collaboration across borders
During a consignment's journey, there are several entities involved including service providers and regulatory authorities. They all need different types of information about the cargo to carry out their respective tasks. In addition, several transportation modes, such as water, rail and road, are often used in a single journey, requiring mode specific data and reports. With so many entities involved, there are problems communicating across the various modes of transportation and borders. Even though communication standards exist, no single standard prevails. Consequently, two entities wanting to facilitate communication have to develop point-to-point connections between their information systems, which is expensive and resource intensive to establish. In the end, most communication happens via email.
To solve the problem, the European Commission requested a single framework for information exchange in transport and logistics in 2008. Once this framework, now called e-Freight, was standardised by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO/IEC 19845) in 2015, a consortium was built among the Portuguese, Polish and Italians to take on the task of testing the standard in practice. The objective was to assess if costs could be reduced by sending e-Freight compliant messages using the European Commission’s existing eDelivery message exchange solution.
The project ran from July 2015 to June 2018. The Port Administration of Lisbon (Portugal) acted as coordinator, with the other members consisting of Baltic Container Terminal Gdynia (Poland), Qumak (Poland), DBA Lab (Italy), Europa Multipurpose Terminals (Italy), Rete Autostrade Mediterranee (Italy), Link Campus University (Italy), Insight8 (Italy) and the Port Administration of Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo (Portugal).
The e-Freight standard simplified information by identifying four common organisational roles and defining a minimum set of electronic documents needed for any entity, in any role, to communicate and carry out their tasks. These documents include eWaybills, itineraries and transport service descriptions. eDelivery is used to exchange these documents securely and reliably. The architecture is based on open service business platforms that connect potential clients, service providers, network controllers and other authorities. With e-Freight and eDelivery, a new pattern emerged in transports and logistics.
The consortium chose the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme's eDelivery Access Points to build their message exchange network, because eDelivery is well established, secure and scalable, as it is supported and maintained by the European Commission. Any entity can connect to the common e-Freight message exchange infrastructure by implementing an eDelivery Access Point, as is shown in the illustration below. If an entity already has an eDelivery Access Point, it can also be used to exchange e-Freight messages, since the Access Points are agnostic of message content. Access Points accept the language and message structure to be e-Freight compliant in order to make the document contents interoperable, meaning understandable by all other systems. To jump start piloting, e-IMPACT adopted Domibus, the Commission's reference implementation of an Access Point.
@Illustration of solution by the Port Administration of Leixões.
Hinterland entities refer to all entities residing on the departing port's side. Foreland entities refer to those on the side of the destination port. Portuguese ports connect to the infrastructure through a Logistics Single Window (in Portuguese abbreviated as JUL), more on this later.
Results and benefits
The pilot proved that exchanging e-Freight messages with eDelivery is easy, scalable and low in cost. No point-to-point connections were required. Communication and transparency were enhanced with standardised, unambiguous and secure messages exchanged between all parties. For example, logistics service providers were able to provide transparent communication to clients regarding contracting, planning, execution and status. They were also able to provide timely reports on security and compliance to transportation regulation authorities, and status reports to transportation network controllers.
Status updates are sent based on user interaction on the mobile app or the online web portal. Status updates are also triggered by automatic port systems and equipment, such as the Gate-In/Gate-Out or the VIA VERDE - a vehicle identification device that sends information on vehicles crossing "electronic tolls". Best of all, all exchange of information happens electronically with no paper, phone or costs.
"The Port of Leixões assumes the role of key driver for innovation in Portugal and during the e-IMPACT project, proposed piloting the adoption of the eDelivery Access Points as a way to promote a cost-effective solution for interoperability between stakeholders, such as authorities, transportation network managers, logistics service providers and logistics service clients. eDelivery revealed to be an excellent solution to unlock interoperability and we believe this solution will trigger a new generation of collaborative logistics."
Luís Marinho Dias, Co-Director for Innovation and Modernisation,
Port of Leixões, Portugal
Portugal's Logistics Single Window
Based on the positive results of the e-IMPACT pilot, Portugal decided to adopt eDelivery for exchanging message in all of its port across the country. Access Points will be used to exchange e-Freight messages, but are capable of sending other standardised messages, too. The solution, which is envisioned to spread across all transportation modes in the future, is called the Logistics Single Window (in Portuguese abbreviated as JUL). The next steps are to:
- Implement Access Points in all Portuguese ports
- Create awareness among stakeholders, such as software houses to provide solutions and services around e-Freight and eDelivery
- Organise workshops and meetings to present solution, specifications and support to all who are interested in joining the network
@Vision for Logistics Single Window (JUL) by the JUL project
According to the vision, all parties are connected to a private cloud provided by the Portuguese government via eDelivery Access Points. Users can use mobile applications or the web browser to access data and exchange messages. Critical business processes are digitised and harmonised across all ports, and in the future, across all modes of transportation. As a result, the solution will bring transparency, process efficiency and cost reductions.
"Portugal has been investing in providing an advanced collaborative digital platform for its logistics networks. It is called the Logistics Single Window (JUL). eDelivery brings a proper interoperability framework to support this initiative. It provides an open, accessible and easy-to-use technology that reduces costs and complexity of integrating business partners and systems across transportation chains. eDelivery also has the potential to further support the Portuguese port cluster in their effort to set up completely harmonised processes at national level.”
José Carlos Simão, Directorate-General for Natural Resources,
Safety and Maritime Services, Portugal
How can you get started?
If you are interested in using eDelivery to build your own message exchange infrastructure, our website describes the technical documentation and support services that are available to all. We would be happy to help you get started, visit us at the link below to learn more.
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