Heineken has started a trial of an SOA-based system to track the location of 10 cargo container shipments of beer en route from Europe to the US in real time.
The project, called ‘The Living Beer Lab’, has seen the brewer deploy IBM’s Websphere platform to link distributed data sources rather than build a large central database in order to share real-time information with international shipping company, Safmarine, and customs authorities in the UK, the Netherlands and the US.
The aim is to provide a paperless trail of the beer’s journey from Europe through US customs and into Heineken’s distribution centre. In the past, up to 30 documents had to be filled in for each journey, but the hope is that the move will significantly cut the amount of time that the beer is in transit.
The containers are tracked using a mixture of satellites and cellular base stations to establish exactly where the cargo is located.
The pilot project is part of the Information Technology for Analysis and Intelligent Design for E-government research project, which is being funded by the European Commission in attempt to reduce security worries and tax fraud. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is coordinating the initiative and will develop best-practice guidelines that can be shared across the European Union.
Dr Yao-Hua Tan, professor of electronic business at the University, said: “The Beer Living Lab is setting a roadmap for next-generation e-Customs solutions. We will test innovative solutions based on IBM’s Tamper Resistant Embedded Controller and an SOA developed by IBM that could revolutionise customs. Companies using these solutions could benefit greatly due to less physical inspections.”