Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Container Tracking System for Port Louis Harbor: The Case of Mauritius

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Container Tracking System for Port Louis Harbor: The Case of Mauritius

Article excerpt

Introduction

The globalization process has brought with it a number of driving forces that have caused many transformations. The consequences of these forces are extending to all sectors, commercial and industrial activities, including the port environment. Of these consequences, uncertainty is the one that is causing the most concern within the port industry, obliging ports to become more competitive.

As time progresses ports face increasing pressures which are represented in the different levels of competition. The increasing pressures towards the reduction of transport costs have lead container shipping companies to form shipping alliances or even go through merger and acquisition processes. Shipping companies going through these strategies are obliged to realign their trade routes.

The port industry has been viewed as a traditional, sometimes old-fashioned environment and one that reflects reactive approach to the implementation of new concepts. Being currently surrounded by an environment characterized by a high degree of complexity, where activities are often carried out in a disorganized way, with high costs, inadequate customer services and under utilization of resources, the port industry must adopt a new attitude. If not, ports may be left behind whenever alternative transport systems are designed.

It is estimated that the cost of international trade logistics, which includes all physical and nonphysical services and transactions required to move international trade, exceeds one thousand billion dollars per year and is growing at an annual rate of 6 to 8 per cent (Frankel, 2001). The rise in transport and logistics costs can be attributed to the growth of trade in general, and also to factors that include the increasing use of global outsourcing of manufacturing and assembly in many industries. It is often assumed that logistics costs largely comprise of transportation costs; in reality, however, the cost of transport itself frequently represents less than 50 per cent and sometimes as little as 30 per cent of total door-to-door logistics costs. The other costs include port and terminal handling charges, which are as much as sea and land transportation; and information, management and transaction cost (Frankel, 2001).

The fact that transportation costs represent a relatively small part of total door-to-door logistics costs which is particularly true with regard to container transport where larger ship sizes, double stack unit trains and other innovations. This also means that there are few opportunities to drastically lower overall logistics costs by further increasing transportation efficiencies. However, there are plenty of opportunities to improve overall logistics management through better information handling.

To become well integrated in the international supply chains, ports must ensure that they are efficient and competitive. In particular, ports must simplify administrative procedures in cooperation with customs authorities and other port stakeholders. In other words, ports and customs must implement trade facilitation measures to accelerate the handling and clearance of goods through seaports. This requires both structural reforms and the appropriate application of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Port Louis Harbor is located in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius) on the shipping routes linking Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. The port of Port Louis is positioned in the North-West coast of Mauritius, and is the only commercial port of the island. It is situated at the capital city of Port Louis, which is also the administrative and economic centre point of the country. As the principal gateway of the country, the port plays a vital role by handling about 99% of the total volume of the country's external trade. Over the past two decades, the port has been transformed with modern port facilities, a dynamic Freeport, excellent port based facilities together with impressive waterfront developments. …

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