Use Electronic Freight Management (EFM) system as a supplement to existing systems and design the EFM system flexible enough to accept and provide data about any partner within the supply chain.
Columbus, Ohio's experience in the electronic freight management system deployment test.
Made Public Date
04/27/2009

581

Columbus
Ohio
United States
TwitterLinkedInFacebook
Identifier
2009-00471

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report

Background

In support of the USDOT Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Joint Program Office, the Columbus Electronic Freight Management (CEFM) project was intended to test an implementation of a service-oriented architecture supporting real-time freight data exchange, the Freight Information Highway (FIH), in an international air-freight supply chain. The CEFM system is a freight data exchange and information management concept, which relies on the Web-based FIH. CEFM obtains data from each supply chain partner, stores the data separately, and then exchanges the data with other trading partners via Web services using Extensible Markup Language (XML).

The CEFM project covers the entire air cargo supply chain, from overseas suppliers in China to the shippers' distribution centers in Columbus, Ohio. Design and development of CEFM were completed during 2006 and early 2007, and the deployment test was conducted from May 29, 2007 to December 4, 2007. The evaluation included an analysis of the consignment supply chain data that was received and exchanged by CEFM and stored for each partner.

The CEFM evaluation addressed four study areas, which are system usefulness, cargo visibility, supply chain and logistics performance, and deployment and scalability. Each study area has two or more hypotheses and each hypothesis has several Measures of Effectiveness (MOEs).

Lessons Learned

The purpose of the system usefulness evaluation is to discuss the extent to which CEFM archived its technical objectives and was found to be a useful addition for supply chain users. The set of hypotheses deals with technical details including system specifications, business requirements, use cases, assessment of CEFM user screens, and evaluation of CEFM data.

Following are the lessons learned that were derived from the evaluation of CEFM system usefulness:

  • Use EFM system as a supplement to existing systems, not a separate or replacement transportation management system. Users seemed to want transportation management system (TMS) capabilities from EFM, but by design, EFM is a data exchange system and not a TMS. Therefore, EFM is not as flexible in its analytical capabilities as one would find in a typical TMS. Except where EFM was integrated into an existing system, this mismatch in expectation limits perceived usefulness, but this is another reason why it is so important for EFM-type capabilities to be integrated with existing systems. Also, integrating EFM system capabilities into an existing system would reduce data entry and increase data quality. For future implementations, it is important for users to understand that EFM is a supplement to existing system, not a separate or replacement transportation management system.
  • Make flexibility a design goal for the system. For the system to be truly effective and usable by the supply chain partners, it needs to be flexible enough to accept and provide data about any partner that may be involved in the supply chain.
  • Design the Open Consignment Report (OCR) function properly to reduce the processing time for the OCR. The OCR function should be designed such that the Web Service would access only the database, which contained the most recent information, rather than polling all information. The properly designed OCR function reduced the processing time for the OCR to an acceptable 1.5 minutes per OCR that remained more or less constant even as the shipment volume increased during the test. Also the record from the test showed that the time involved in creating the OCR was not affected by the number of shipments included in the report.
  • Implement a mechanism in EFM that can identify and correct or delete errors and illogical date. An important lesson learned is that future iterations of EFM software should have a means of identifying and correcting or deleting errors and illogical data. Future version of EFM/FIH needs to have logic that detects double flight arrivals or completely illogical dates for arrivals/departures, and flags such errors for users to investigate and correct as needed.
  • Eliminate the numerical code and replace it with short status descriptions. CEFM used status, location, and similar codes for events, places, and characteristics that are related to Uniform Business Language (UBL). The deployment team noted that eliminating the numerical code and replacing it with short status descriptions would avoid the need for all parties to maintain a database of code translations. The Deployment Team also recommended the use of city name and state/providence abbreviation instead of a 3- or 4-character port code.
  • Use precaution when using an open-source Software. While the open-source approach is the preferred approach to implement Web services in EFM, it needed precautions because many toolkits/add-ins are from different sources, and comparability and interoperability of different versions are a concern.

This lesson describes several of the key factors for successful implementation of EFM. First, future users must understand that EFM is a supplement to the existing freight management system. Based on the perception, the EFM system should be designed properly to reduce time in generating OCR and keep enough flexibility to accept and provide data about any partner in the supply chain. Also, future version of EFM/FIH needs to have logic that detects double flight arrivals or completely illogical date and eliminate the numerical code to avoid the need for all parties to maintain a database of code translations. EFM, if implemented with the lessons learned noted above, has the potential for increasing the efficiency and productivity in the air-freight supply chain management.

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report
Publication Sort Date
06/30/2008
Author
K. Troup (North River), D. Newton (SAIC), M. Jensen (SAIC), C. Mitchell (SAIC), D. Stock(SAIC), M. Carter (SAIC), M. Wolfe (North River), and R. Schaefer (SAIC)
Publisher
U.S. Department of Transportation, ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, 1200 Newe Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20590

(Our website has many links to other organizations. While we offer these electronic linkages for your convenience in accessing transportation-related information, please be aware that when you exit our website, the privacy and accessibility policies stated on our website may not be the same as that on other websites.)

Application Areas
System Engineering Elements

Focus Areas Taxonomy: