Government Mandates Key to Electronic Container Tracking's Success
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently announced plans to increase the level of support for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), which grants shippers meeting security guidelines expedited processing at US ports. According to a new study by market intelligence firm ABI Research, continuing government programs will be the main impetus for electronic container tracking. CBP is taking C-TPAT a step further by adding another tier of security, dubbed “C-TPAT Plus.” This new program offers shippers immediate turnaround with no inspection upon arrival, in exchange for implementing more stringent requirements. These requirements include technologies that can monitor tampering from the point of origin and provide inspectors with a record of events. “This heightened level of support will boost electronic tracking of incoming containers,” notes ABI Research analyst, David Schrier. “But a government mandate, rather than voluntary provisions, will be the only way the industry can realize significant volumes of electronically-tracked containers in the near future.” The new ABI Research study, “Container Security and Tracking,” examines evolving solutions and technologies for global electronic container tracking, including RFID, GPS, cellular, satellite, Ultrawideband, Bluetooth, barcode and optical character recognition. According to the study, myriad technologies have been developed for container tracking, but none of them have been commercially implemented to any great extent. Schrier adds, “The mass market devices will be those that can provide basic electronic supply chain management at a reasonable cost while working reliably within the port environment.” While RFID-based solutions have met the requirements for military container tracking, the Wal-Mart and DoD mandates have been slow to take form. This created a lag in the RFID industry as a whole and slowed the adoption of container tracking across other industries. However, the study finds that there will be a significant market for RFID-based commercial container tracking.