DCSA introduces first IoT standards for smart containers

 Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a non-profit group established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards, has, in conjunction with its nine member carriers, published IoT connectivity interface standards for shipping containers.

As explained, the standards can be implemented by vessel operators and owners as well as ports, terminals, container yards, inland logistics providers and other third parties to ensure interoperability between smart container solutions at the radio interface level.

With these standards in place, carriers and supply chain participants will be one step closer to providing customers with an uninterrupted flow of relevant information regarding the whereabouts of containers and the status of their contents at any point along the container journey. This is one of many initiatives to be put forth by DCSA to accelerate digitalisation through a unified industry effort, according to the association.

Specifically, the DCSA IoT Standard for Gateway Connectivity Interfaces, which can be downloaded from the DCSA website, includes radio standards for gateways on vessel, on land, at event locations and in handheld devices. These standards provide an initial set of connectivity recommendations that are vendor and platform agnostic to reduce investment risk, increase operational efficiency and enable innovation.

The new standards are the first of three planned IoT standards releases addressing the connectivity requirements for reefer and dry containers, as well as the RFID registration of these containers. Future releases will focus on data structure and handling, physical device specifications as well as security and access management, DCSA said.

“IoT will usher in a new era of efficiency in global trade. Smart containers that share information with multiple stakeholders will facilitate a digitally enabled supply chain. This will greatly increase efficiency and transparency, improve the quality of shipped goods, reduce waste across the board, and raise safety and security levels,” Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli, Chief of Trade Facilitation Section for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe  (UNECE). 

“Interoperability of IoT devices is one of the keys to enable massive smart containers deployment, taking the digital age of shipping one step further beyond paperless processes by embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) to support enhanced decision-making by the various sectoral stakeholders.”

“This standards release by DCSA is very important and complementary with the UN/CEFACT interoperability standards, namely the Multi Modal Transport Data Reference Model and the Smart Container Business Requirement Specifications in particular. I believe that these standards will play an important role in aligning the industry in terms of IoT interoperability,” Ceccarelli added.

“We are thrilled to be introducing our first set of IoT standards for the industry,” Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA, said.

“This release is an important step in enabling mass deployment of smart containers and forms the foundation of a group of standards that will address the industry’s most critical container use cases. Once implemented, our IoT standards will enable, for example, reefer container tracking, monitoring and controlling along the entire container journey, with no connectivity ‘blind spots’. This will provide more value to the end customer while increasing the efficiency of container operations.”

“Equally as important, we’re giving the industry a framework for interoperability that will allow stakeholders to create innovative IoT solutions that can be leveraged by any industry stakeholder, market supplier or service provider,” he concluded.

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DCSA member carriers include MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM.

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