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Heineken, IBM, Safmarine and University of Amsterdam Launch Wireless "Beer Living Lab"


Goal of Shipping Trade Lane Project Is to Spark Greater International Trade by Simplifying Process

ARMONK, NY & AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - 26 Oct 2006: Today IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a new intelligent wireless project with Heineken, international shipping company, Safmarine, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam) in conjunction with Dutch Customs, UK Customs and US Customs and Border Protection. The new project, called the “Beer Living Lab,” will track cargo container shipments of Heineken beer from Europe to the United States using satellite and cellular technology. The goal is to create paperless documentation through better system interoperability, resulting in faster deliveries and reduced costs for international trade.

IBM’s Secure Trade Lane solution will provide real-time visibility and interoperability through an advanced wireless sensor platform and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), based on IBM’s WebSphere platform. The project’s SOA, called the Shipment Information Services, leverages the EPCglobal network and EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) standards, so rather than build and maintain a large central database with huge amounts of information, distributed data sources are linked, allowing data to be shared in real time between Heineken, Safmarine and customs authorities in the Netherlands, England and The United States.

In this project, Safmarine will ship ten containers of Heineken beer from locations in both Netherlands and England, through their Customs Authorities, to the Heineken distribution center in the United States. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will coordinate the project and provide best practices documentation to share across the European Union.

“The Beer Living Lab is setting a roadmap for the next generation e-Customs solutions. We test innovative solutions, based on IBM’s Tamper Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC) and SOA developed by IBM that could revolutionize customs,” said Dr. Yao-Hua Tan, professor of Electronic Business, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “Companies using these solutions could benefit greatly due to less physical inspections by customs; thus these e-customs solutions greatly facilitate international trade.”

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, more than 30 different documents are associated with one single container crossing a border, which equals roughly five billion documents annually. The findings of the project will provide a viable alternative to manufacturers, shippers, retailers and customs administrations as they look to move to a paperless trade environment. Once accepted and implemented widely, paperless trade will support initiatives such as Green Lane, which will eliminate most inspections on arrival, thus significantly speeding up ocean freight shipments and improving the profit margins for shippers.

“Because efficient collaboration is a paramount requirement to making this work, IBM built the Shipment Information Services to address interoperability. If governments around the world are serious about electronic customs and paperless trade, they need to encourage each country to adopt open standards environments to enable collaboration and data sharing throughout the trade lane,” said Stefan Reidy, Manager, Secure Trade Lane, IBM. “The Beer Living Lab project is the first step in building the Intranet of Trade, which will help to substantially improve efficiency and security in the global supply chain.”

IBM is dedicated to driving the development of a wide range of emerging technologies and first-of-a-kind solutions that link organizations and people for economic growth, improved healthcare and education, and enhanced security and safety. Technologies such as this have the potential to one day transform the way we all live and work, and are not created in a vacuum by IBM alone -- as in this case, they are increasingly the result of collaborative innovation through IBM’s R&D engagements with customers, business partners, universities and others.

This pilot project is part of the Information Technology for Analysis and Intelligent Design for E-government (ITAIDE) research project funded by the European Commission, in an effort to help reduce security concerns and tax fraud. Implementing the European objectives of Single-Window Access Points (SWA) and Authorized Economic Operators (AEO), this project is expected to lead to significant reductions in the administrative burden and hence a reduction in costs.

Professor Tan from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Stefan Reidy from IBM will discuss this pilot and Secure Trade Lane solutions as speakers at RFID Journal Live Europe, October 27.

For more information on IBM’s logistics solutions, please visit:


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