Interoperability and Connectivity – two sides of the same coin
Over the last years, interoperability has been the concern for those involved in transport and logistics development. Despite this, interoperability is still a challenge, especially for SMEs and for those who are serving different industries. The various industry standards (GS1, papiNet, RosettaNet, Odette, etc.) all include transport related messages, and such messages are typically implemented differently by different stakeholders. Despite the fact that ISO/IEC 19845 exists, the other standards will continue to exist and be developed.
ISO/IEC 19845 is a good example of an activity trying to deal with the interoperability issue. Having an interoperability solution is necessary, but it is not sufficient to enable all, and especially SMEs to be able to easily connect electronically to other stakeholders. Today, the normal approach is to establish direct connection between all stakeholders, as illustrated in Figure 3, using the connections to be made by a freight forwarder (DSV) as an example.
Any company that needs to be communicating with many others will incur significant costs to establish such one-to-one connections to all relationships.
One way of reducing the cost of connectivity is to apply the concept of Access Points developed in the e-Freight project, so-called EAPs. The EAP benefit is that each stakeholder connects only once, and, when connected, can communicate with all others, with whom address information has been exchanged (like e-mail). In addition, use of EAPs provides a sufficient level of security, another barrier that has been limiting the interest of electronic information exchange in the transport and logistics community.
EAPs support secure connectivity without a centralised infrastructure.
The infrastructure developed by PEPPOL has now been taken over by DG DIGIT, who is operating it under the name e-Delivery infrastructure.
There are now more than 100 providers of access points satisfying the PEPPOL requirements. The project e-Sens develops new services that are to be deployed using the same e-Delivery infrastructure.
e-Impact Access Points
Experience from the project e-Freight and iCargo has shown that the requirements for real-time responsiveness in logistics were not supported by standard “PEPPOL” access points. Hence, the version of EAPs developed and used in e-Impact has special capabilities for handling real-time information exchange issues, in addition to being standard e-Delivery infrastructure access points. Deployment of the EAPs will, therefore be made using the e-Delivery infrastructure, thereby utilising existing operational support (from DG DIGIT) and the “PEPPOL” governance infrastructure (adapted to logistics requirements).