The Columbus Electronic Freight Management system improved timeliness of the freight release process and supply chain data, and enhanced cargo visibility.
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United States

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report

Summary Information

In support of the USDOT Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Joint Program Office, the Columbus Electronic Freight Management (CEFM) project was performed to test an implementation of the Freight Information Highway (FIH) in a real-world, 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 oversea 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 evaluation report includes descriptions of CEFM and defines quantitative and qualitative benefits in the following four study areas:

1. CEFM System usefulness
2. The ability of CEFM to improve cargo visibility
3. The ability CEFM to improve supply chain and logistics performance
4. Assessment of deployment scalability

The evaluation involved analyzing test data collected during the deployment test, as well as perceptions from the various supply chain partners.

The evaluation team found the following qualitative benefits to the shipper and its partners.

Improved timeliness of freight release process and supply chain data:

- CEFM allowed the broker to prepare documentation on Sundays, thereby reducing its backlog of Sunday shipments, which would potentially help the broker to better spread out its labor force through the week.
- CEFM allowed the Customs clearance to be processed earlier.
- The CEFM advanced ship notice is available at least six hours to one day earlier than current electronic data interchange versions.
- CEFM provided downstream partners earlier access to purchase order manufacturer booking and tendering data.

Enhanced cargo visibility: By providing improved status information to all partners, the CEFM could enhance cargo visibility. CEFM provides visibility over most of the supply chain events without the need for manual data entry. Although, the CEFM partners could provide no quantitative data about potential improvement, they found following benefits from the status information provided by CEFM:

- The CEFM information for all origins would certainly cut out a lot of time spent for retrieving emails and shipment information from various origins.
- "Departure Complete" information can provide a better glimpse into the near future and what freight should be arriving within a two to three day window.

The CEFM partners agree that if CEFM applied to all shipments there would be measurable benefits. One of the most important benefits of CEFM is that the status information includes air mode data. Previously the air mode data was available only by telephone or from multiple airline data Web sites. The evaluation team identified potential labor savings from obtaining air mode data automatically.

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report

Columbus Electronic Freight Management Evaluation Final Report
Publication Sort Date
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)
U.S. Department of Transportation, ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, 1200 Newe Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20590
Goal Areas
Deployment Locations