IBM Plans GMM Supply Chain Security Initiative

When it comes to supply chain security, IBM has no intentions of stopping with Intelligent Trade Lane, a new non-RFID wireless shipment tracking platform mutually unveiled with Maersk.

IBM and ocean shipper Maersk Logistics have jointly launched Intelligent Trade Lane, a new wireless supply chain security platform that will serve as the first plank of the soon-to-be-announced Global Movement Management, a wider supply chain security initiative now under development at IBM.

IBM and Maersk, a division of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, have already started land-based testing of Intelligent Trade Lane, a platform aimed at providing security as well as supply chain efficiencies to customers shipping products beyond national borders.

The technology combines tamper-proof smart cards; wireless sensors for measuring such things as location and temperature; and satellite, cellular and mesh wireless networks for worldwide communications with customers over the Internet-based epcGlobal network, said IBM officials during a press conference on Tuesday at the Maritime Security Conference in New York.

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Future plans call for starting a technology pilot in November, to be followed by a much larger test with retail, manufacturing and CPG (consumer packaged goods) distributors in March of next year. Commercial availability is set for the second half of 2006.

In the pilot later this year, the non-RFID wireless tracking technology will move from land-based testing to deployment aboard ocean vessels, trains and trucks, according to Mogens Roedbro, partner and vice president of IBM Business Consulting Services.

Specific technologies to be implemented include the Iridium satellite network; Zigbee wireless mesh networks; smart-card encryption from IBM; and, on the epcGlobal network, RSA authentication and directory services from Verisign Inc.

The World Customs Organization will act as trusted authority for RSA authentication.

Next years commercial test will move beyond the technology evaluation stage into measuring supply chain efficiencies felt by customers, Roedbro told journalists at the press conference.

Along the way, the partners will work on overcoming technical issues in the wireless industry that have contributed to high false positive rates.

IBM will also work with national customs agencies throughout the world to seek standardization of the Intelligent Trade Lane technology.

Intelligent Trade Lane also represents the first implementation of GMM, an initiative IBM expects to unveil over the next few months.

Under the upcoming GMM framework, staffers from various divisions throughout IBM will be brought together to work together on vertically focused supply chain security teams, said W. Scott Gould, vice president of IBMs Public Sector Strategy & Change division, in an interview during the press event.

Next Page: Securing more than just goods.