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Zuiderwijk, Wim, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Economics, Netherlands,
Wiegman, Arjan, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Economics, Netherlands,

In this paper there will be given an overview on new innovations in the field of harbor logistics
security. To come to this overview there are first some questions answered regarding the field
and the current state of the security there of. First of all the processes in harbor logistics are
described. The main process is the throughput of goods and most security controls will also focus
on this. Then there is an overview of the threats to these processes and the current implemented
security controls to these threats. In this paper there is a focus on the criminal acts regarding to
the threats and the controls are viewed from the point of view of the customs/ Then the overview
of the new innovations are given, which consists of the RFID-chip, electronic seals and “green
lanes”. Finally there will be a brief conclusion in which the authors will give their personal views
on this subject.

Keywords: harbor, logistics, security, RFID-chip, electronic seals, “green lanes”, Dublin,
Rotterdam, port, customs, data mining.

1.1 Background

This paper is written for the course ‘Studieproject Economie & Informatica’. The assignment was
to write a research paper on innovation and every participant would get a certain focus. We were
assigned to focus on innovation in harbors logistics. Since the major incident on September 11th
2001 security has been firmly put on the agenda on a world wide scale. According to the NATO
the protection of harbors and ships is the second highest priority for technological advance in the
Defense Against Terrorism (DAT) [1]. This is the reason we have chosen to scope our research to
the topic of innovations in harbor logistics security. To do a thorough research in the limited
amount of time and pages we were given, we had to scope our research down further. We have
chosen two more areas of focus in this project to narrow down the scope. First we have chosen to
look at security controls against criminal acts. Criminal acts consist of threats that occur due to
the intentional damaging activities of other human beings or organizations. The second area of
focus is who implements the security controls; we have chosen to look at the roll of the customs
in this research.
The competition between the different harbors in the world is getting more intensive. Especially
in Western Europe with the harbors of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg the competition is
heating up. This competition leads to a need for new competitive advantages. This advantage can
be gained on three different levels; the quality, the cost and better efficiency of services. To
achieve these goals there are a couple of methods to get there. First of all a harbor can make use
of best practices to be the best in their field. However it is not always possible to get these best
practices or they can be simply too expensive. So this brings us to an alternative, innovation. If a
harbor innovates it can gain a significant advantage if they do it the right way; but it is a risk since
they do not get any guarantees that the new innovations will be better then the current best
The pressure from governments and other institutions on the field of security compliances is also
growing. Harbors get more and stricter legislations to which they need to model their processes.
This is also a heavy burden on the efficiency and cost of their daily businesses. Since we already
established that there is a high need for low costs and high efficiency there is the need to
implement security controls in such a way that it doesn’t impact the costs and efficiency too
much, or maybe even improve them where possible.

1.2 Problem statement

As we stated above in the background the main challenge for harbors is to implement all enforced
compliances and control the threats to their processes in such a way that they gain a competitive
advantage over the other harbors. This can be done to do it cheaper or more efficient then the
competition or to use the implemented security controls in such a way that they even help the
processes instead of frustrate them. The main source to gain such advantages over the
competition is to innovate.
This paper will give an overview of current innovation projects that are under development in the
field of harbor logistics security. To properly research and summarize these developments we
need to understand the different aspects of our research. To help us structure our research and
understand the different aspects of it we have made three sub question and a main research

1.3 Research Question(s)

Our main research question is as follows:

”What are the developments in innovations regarding the security of harbor logistics against
criminal acts from a customs point of view?”

To help us structure this research and answer this question we have made three sub questions,
they are the following:

What are the processes used in harbor logistics?

What are the threats to the processes used in harbor logistics?
What are the current security controls used in harbor logistics?

1.4 Methodology

In our quest to answer the research questions we started with gathering information before writing
this paper. We have used three sources of information during our research phase.
1. Literature study through the internet
• Among others found articles on the ISPS code & the RFID-chip
• Found background information about the ports of Rotterdam and Dublin
• Found background information on the Dutch customs

2. Visit to the port of Dublin, Ireland

• IT director of the port gave a presentation
• Received a specially arranged tour through the harbor

3. Visit of the symposia ‘ICT een topprestatie’ and ‘CSI Rotterdam: veilige stad en haven’
Especially interesting was the presentation from researcher J.A.E.E. van Nunen from
the Erasmus University; this presentation was about ICT in logistics and distribution with regard
to overall safety.
With all this information gathered we could answer the sub questions and after that give a
structured overview on the current innovation projects in the security of harbor logistics.

1.5 Relevance

Considering Rotterdam as one of the leading players in the world regarding harbor activities; and
considering the fact that the harbor of Rotterdam plays a huge role in the Dutch economy we
wanted to focus our research on how to keep Rotterdam competitive. A significant part of the
competitiveness these days is decided by how the harbor copes with treats to security like
terrorism and smuggling. The harbor needs to not only implement controls effectively according
to compliances, but also need to do it in an efficient and low cost manner. The major need for
developments of innovations in this field is still very new, since 9/11. This makes it a new
research area in which there is still a lot of new ground to be discovered. This is why we found it

interesting to focus our research on innovation with regard to protecting the harbor logistic

1.6 Overview

After this chapter we will first give a short answer to all three sub questions. Chapter two will
describe the processes used in harbor logistics and in peculiar the roll of the customs in these
processes. What the threats are to these processes are outlined in chapter three. In this chapter we
will briefly describe what kind of threats there are and then give a more detailed description of
the various threats coming from criminal acts. The current state of security controls will be
handled in chapter four. This chapter will explain the current legislations and how harbors
comply with them. In chapter five we will answer the main research question and describe
multiple innovative projects that are currently under development. In the last chapter we will give
our personal views regarding the subject and topics that could be interesting for future research.
In the last chapter we will also give a brief description of the views on how to secure the harbor
logistics in the port of Dublin and the port of Rotterdam.
In all these chapters we will focus on the viewpoint of the customs, this means that the answers or
descriptions might not be complete from a harbor point of view. But given the limited amount of
pages we needed to scope down the research.


This chapter will describe the processes used in harbor logistics. According to the websites of the
port of Dublin and the port of Rotterdam we can divide the processes into three main categories.
The first and most important process is the throughput of goods. The second category is
passenger transport and the last category is supportive processes. This process is subjective to the
two core business processes.

2.1 Throughput of goods

The general core business of most harbors is the throughput of goods. The throughput of goods is
based on the idea that something comes into the harbor, which then may or may not be stored or
processed in some way and then is transported further. Most harbors have warehouses to store
goods and sometimes goods are even processed further on harbor territory. After this the goods
are transported further to other destinations.
The throughput of goods comes into four categories. The first category is the Ro/Ro which stands
for roll on/roll off. In this process a ship comes into the harbor loaded with wheeled cargo. This
can be automobiles, trucks, trailers or railroad cars. Ro/Ro ships have built-in ramps which allows
for the cargo to efficiently be “rolled” on and off the ship when in a harbor.
The second category is Lo/Lo, which stands for load on/load off. This is the largest process in
most harbors. In this process ships are loaded with containers with cranes in terminals of harbors
and when they arrive at there destination the containers are taken off the ship again with large
cranes in the terminal of the destination harbor.
The third category is the process of transporting liquid bulk. This is in most cases the transport of
oil, but can also be the transport of chemicals or other liquids. Usually harbors that are capable of
transporting liquids have large installations that can pump the liquid out of the ship and into large
tanks on land or into special trailers that transport the liquid further land inwards. Most harbors
also have industry nearby that process the raw oil into their final products.

The fourth and last category is the transportation of dry bulk. This is the transportation of solid
goods that are not stored on wheeled transport or in containers, but just deposited in one large
storage area. Examples of this are coal and grain.
These four categories make up the largest part of the business of harbors. In the Netherlands
Rotterdam is even specialized in the throughput of goods and has become so successful that they
have been the largest harbor of the world for a while and they still are the largest harbor outside
Asia. They also play a very big roll in the Dutch economy and so one can understand that the
Dutch government has a lot of interest in what’s going on in the harbor of Rotterdam.

2.2 Passenger transport

Also a part of the daily business of most harbors, but significantly less important, is the transport
of passengers. This process has been under a lot of pressure because of the airline traffic. Airline
traffic is a lot faster and is becoming less and less expensive with the rise of budget airline
companies like EasyJet and Ryan Air. The port of Dublin [2] has sort of given up the battle for
the regular travel from Dublin to the destination arrival, but they try to reinvent this process by
offering and focusing on cruises. They hope to keep a part of the tourism business into there core
business this way and they are even developing a new ramp to facilitate this.

2.3 Supportive Processes

To facilitate the above two core processes there are a lot of supportive processes of which the
most important ones will be described below. These descriptions of the supportive processes are
based on how they are organized in the port of Dublin. But we assume that the same kinds of
processes or services are available in most, if not all, harbors.
First of all there is the ICT. This becomes a more and more important process in harbors and it is
a great way to improve efficiency and lower cost if used in the right way. Of course since we
study Economy & Informatics we are a bit biased. But the port of Dublin has made a lot of
progress the last ten years and one of the key factors was a new and highly integrated ICT system
in the harbor. ICT can for instance help with the decision making (e.g. Management Information
Systems) and with the information handling (e.g. ERP systems). They also implemented a
wireless network covering the whole harbor and some part of the surrounding sea to provide a
way for all involved parties to have a quick way of communicating and sharing information. This
also helps smooth and speed up a lot of the other supporting processes.
A second example of supportive processes is a pilotage and towage service. Usually vessels are
demanded to be piloted or towed when they come within a certain reach of the harbor. This
provides for a more secure harbor in terms of collisions and unwanted entrances. Usually the
harbor has a contract with a pilotage and towage service company or they provide this service

2.4 Customs

An example of a supportive instance is the customs. According to the website of the Dutch
customs [3] the roll of the customs is twofold. They are responsible for the calculation and
collection of taxes on incoming goods. And secondly they are responsible for the enforcement of
legislations. This is divided into four categories:
• Environment
• Health
• Economy
• Security

For this paper the fourth point is of special interest, since it is the main focus of the research
question. The Dutch customs are an extension of the Finance Department of the federal
government. On the subject of security they check incoming and outgoing goods on irregularities.
They do this to detect and prevent smuggling, which is the illegal transport of goods. This can be
illegal goods like weapons and drugs, or goods on which no taxes are paid. They also are an
important part in the physical security of the harbor itself.
How they implement controls to ensure the security in these areas is explained in chapter four.


There are different kinds of threats to the processes explained in the previous chapter. We will
divide these threats by the source they are coming from.

3.1 General Threats

There are three kinds of sources of threats to the processes in harbor logistics:
• Human mistakes
• System Failures
• Acts of God
• Criminal acts
Human mistakes happen in all processes where humans are involved. There are different reasons
why people make mistakes; examples are when people are tired or when they are ignorant of
certain problems in the process. One can never remove this threat completely, but it can be
controlled. To prevent ignorance and incompetence education could help a lot.
System failures are threats to the ICT process, for example certain information files could be lost
or unavailable which could have a huge impact on the daily businesses. System failures could
occur when the software is faulty or when a power shutdown happens. These threats can be
controlled by installing backup files and systems. When this is done and something bad happens
to the ICT it can easily be fixed.
Acts of God is the name of all things that can occur with outside human control. These include
mainly natural disasters. These things can not be prevented but can be controlled when they
occur. Plans should be in place of what to do when a natural disaster happens.
The last source is our main focus and is the source of criminal acts. This will be explained below.

3.2 Criminal Acts

Criminal acts are all actions done by humans or organizations to intentionally damage the harbor.
We can divide them again in three categories:
• Theft
• Smuggling
• Terrorism
Theft is the act of taking something that does not belong to that person. This can be goods that are
on the premises of the harbor or also the taking of money by means of fraud. Smuggling is also
known as trafficking and is the act of transporting prohibited goods past a certain point. These
goods can be illegal goods like weapons and drugs or can be goods on which no tax has been
Since 9/11 a third threat has prominently joined the previous two in the criminal act category.
This is the act of terrorism, which is the deed of intentionally damaging someone else his

property or disrupting daily processes. Usually the goal of terrorism is to incite fear into the
general public or politicians. The NATO, the department of defense of the United States and also
more recently the European Union have all started to create legislations to prevent terrorism.
How these threats are controlled is explained in the next chapter.


4.1 The ISPS code

ISPS stands for International Safety Management Code and came into effect on July 1st 2004. It’s
an amendment to SOLOS which stands for Safety of sea Life at Sea convention. The code
consists of two parts:
1. Mandatory requirements
2. Guidance in implementation
The code is focused on the cooperation between actors within the maritime world such as vessels,
customs, port facilities, etc. The main objectives of the ISPS code are:

• Detecting security threats and implementing new security measures

• Determining which actors are responsible for what regarding maritime security. These actors
can be vessels, port owners, port industries, governments, etc
• To provide methods for assessments regarding security so to react to the changing
environment. To react to this environment plans and procedures must be in place.
A lot of harbors had problems implementing the mandatory requirements on time, and there are
now even companies that are focused on helping harbors implementing this code.

4.2 Customs

Customs are around in every modern society around the world. Customs is usually the first
governmental organization when you enter another country. Dutch customs has 3 main tasks:

• ‘Stopping’ goods at national borders

• Collecting taxes (with regard to goods moving in and out of the country)
• Enforcing legislations
Technically the first point is part of the third point, but it the most important one so it is named
separately. The customs has different methods to secure the borders and prevent the threats form
criminal acts. In the subsections below we will give a description on a couple of the currently
used methods.

4.2.1 Random Selection

Random selection is a tool which does exactly what the name says; it randomly selects. So what
does it randomly selects in this context you might ask? It selects containers, ships or other units
which contain goods. When such a unit is selected law enforcement agents, such as the customs,
proceed to the unit and check it on irregularities. This check-up does not only consist of checks to
see if the container contains illegal goods. It is also done for example to check if the appropriate
amount of taxes is paid, if environmental laws are not violated, etc. Random selection is not a
very effective tool to use because the selection done is completely random. This could result in
checking out the less risk full units containing goods and letting the more risk full units go by

unchecked. However employees who do the random selection are trained to spot irregularities and
with experience they become better to pick out more risky units, this is called the “trained eye”.
Of course this makes it not completely random anymore but it will improve this control.
Random selection also can withhold criminals to even try and smuggle or cheat on their taxes out
of fear to be randomly selected. Another valuable asset of random selection is the information it
can generate which in its turn can be used for data mining, which will be described in chapter

4.2.2 Scans

With regard to harbor logistics scans are a relatively new method. Rotterdam port for example
just started using machines capable of scanning entire containers which can be 45 feet long. The
port of Hong Kong currently scans all containers coming in and going out of the port. And then
sends the information gained by the scanning to the destination ports customs.
The process of scanning one container costs about twelve seconds and consists of gamma rays to
look inside the container and digital camera’s to capture images of the containers unique
identification numbers. These photographs are combined so that the customs can see the inside of
a container and the outside to identify which container and transporter the inside belongs to.

4.2.3 Data Mining

Data mining is also relatively new in the area of security. For data mining techniques to be used
efficiently all cargo data, -manifests and other official documents must be delivered digitally and
inserted in a database. The second step is to check cargo with the same procedures currently at
hand. In these procedures some negatives will pop up, but also some positives. Positive means
that the cargo was somehow not complying with legislations e.g. carrying illegal goods, violating
environmental laws, etc. These positives must then be inserted into the earlier mentioned
database. When more and more positives are found and inserted, special data mining techniques
can scan the database and resolve special patterns which say that many positives are from for
example Colombia and carrying bananas. Customs consulting data mining techniques can then
focus on these bananas from Colombia instead for example the relatively safe cargo from France.
This does not mean that only the patterns these data mining techniques find must be examined. In
the long term this can result in a self fulfilling prophecy. If for example only cargo from
Colombia is checked then only positives in cargo from Colombia will occur while cargo from
France could also contain risks.

4.3 Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are barriers such as fences, gates, speed bumps. These are put in place to keep
unwanted person off the premises. The idea behind this is that when people that are uninvited
cannot come near the places where the processes are handled, they also cannot threaten these
processes. So if a thief cannot come near a container full of valuables, he also cannot steal them.
Another part of the physical barriers is the use of patrolling guards. They can check the fences
and other barriers if they are still intact and can act upon unwanted intrusions and damages.

In this chapter some examples of new innovations will be outlined and explained. These
innovations are newly developed and not yet used or in their very early stages of implementation
and possible uses. The three main innovations we will discuss are the RFID-chip, the electronic

seals and the concept of “green lanes”. Besides these three innovations, there are also great
improvements being made on the subject of scans and data mining.

5.1 The RFID-chip

In the relatively new world of RFID (Radio frequency identification) there are two main types of
chips available, Active and passive RFID chips.
Active RFID chips have a source of energy, for instance a battery, which powers the chip so it is
able to send out signals where passive chips are unable to do this. This also makes active chips a
lot more expensive. In the long term passive chips are expected to replace bar codes on the
products you buy in stores. Advantages of RFID are:
• No physical contact required like with credit cards
• No direct line of sight necessary as is with bar codes
• Enormous amounts of RFID chips can be processed in seconds
• Forging an RFID chip is more difficult then to forge a bar code
• RFID data can travel longer distances then the bar codes can
However there are also some disadvantages in which the biggest is the privacy issue. In this
context however this issue doesn’t really play a big role. Some other disadvantages are primarily
technical problems which should be overcome in the near future.
RFID chips are made in many different specifications regarding the range in which the chip is
readable, the amount of data being transferred ranges from 1 kbit to 1 mbit and more and in
physical size.
In the process of logistics this new technology can be used to check up on data through the
logistic chain. The data can be consulted with readers which display the data on the chip back to
the end user. Chips also enable a better traceability in the process if they are checked on certain
checkpoints such as cranes and gates. When a container has a electronically filed ‘flight plan’ and
the checks with the chips on the checkpoints do not match the ‘flight plan’ certain actors could be
automatically alarmed.

5.2 Electronic Seals

Seals provide (visual) confirmation if there is tampered with the integrity of for example a
container. There are simple seals such as tie rip like seals which offer no protection to actual
theft, these are so called ‘indicative seals’. There are also ‘Barrier seals’ which offer protection as
well to the cargo. Both kinds of seals usually have unique serial numbers and other special marks
to prevent falsification of these seals. Also both kinds of seals are regarded as so called ‘manual
When a container arrives and the seal looks intact and complies with cargo manifests en
legislations, the actors in the logistic process can be sure that the integrity of the container is
secured as long as the actor who put the seal on is reliable. A disadvantage of manual seals is the
fact that it does not record where or when someone tampered with it. Also it could be difficult to
reach the seals when the container is stacked onto other containers or the container is built in.
Since a few years new seals have been developed which are so called electronic seals. The
purpose of these seals is still the same as the old seals. However there are some advantages.
Electronic seals for example are able to record any actions taken with the container and when
these actions occurred. In short they are able to build an auditable trail which can be consulted by
the various actors in the logistic process. These audits can be performed at some distance from
the seal but within the range the seal is capable of sending this data. A possible enhancement to

these seals is to make them in such a way that they are able to send out a report immediately
when tampered with the seal.
Electronic seals could also hold data on what the container is carrying so that they could send out
certain information in advance or could be equipped with GPS to monitor the seals (and thus
containers) location at all times.
Mayor disadvantages of these electronic seals are the costs. Carriers are working with low
margins so they put a lot of effort in minimizing costs such as seals. Since all electronic seals cost
more then the traditional seals it is difficult for carriers to start and for customers to ask using
them if the possible benefits do not outweighs the costs.

5.3 Green Lanes

Another innovative project that is under development is the PROTECT [4] project of
TRANSUMO [5]. TRANSUMO is a research program and stands for TRANsition to SUstainable
MObility. The PROTECT project researches the security of supply chains. One of there ideas is
that of so called “green lanes”. The current way to secure supply chains is that of “homeland
security”, which means that all parties secure their little piece of the chain by putting a fence
around it. This fence is metaphorical for all the individual security controls they implement. The
green lanes project wants to get rid of all the individual security controls and instead implement
chain wide controls that together are a lot cheaper and better then the sum of the individual
controls in homeland security.

In the above picture you see a model of a supply chain. The supply chain usually starts at the
factory and if it is guaranteed for the rest of the parties that the shipment is secure here, then you
only have to keep it secure instead of making it secure at each step of the chain. This idea
improves the security a lot and can make it a lot cheaper. However there are also some
drawbacks. First of all there need to be a chain wide change in the way people think about
security. And managing such a change in thinking on such a large scale is a real big challenge.
This challenge is also made a lot more difficult by the significant investments needed in terms of
time and money to implement a chain wide information system that is needed to realize the green
lanes. Then there is the problem that you need the whole chain to cooperate with this new design
to fully realize the potential of this idea. But if it can be realized the people in the PROTECT
project have calculated that there can be achieved an extra cost saving of between 200 and 300
dollars per container. This can be done by utilizing all the information that has to be gathered to
implement this idea. By using this information the chain can be optimized and thus saving a lot of

To finish this paper we will give some of our personal views of the subject and some
recommendations on interesting topics that can be used for future research.

6.1 Conclusion

We think that in the near future their will be a significant boost in the development of innovations
in the field of harbor logistics security. The reason will be twofold in this. First of all like we
stated a couple of times before, but cannot stress enough, the need for efficient and low cost
security controls will raise. Because of the intense competition between harbors the need for a
competitive advantage becomes bigger and bigger. To gain a unique advantage one can only
innovate. The second reason will be more and stricter legislations from federal governments, the
European Union and other law enforcers.
The second finding we did was a starting debate between people who though “homeland security”
was the way to secure the steps in a supply chain and the people who think “green lanes” are the
future. Honestly we think that the green lanes will not make it like the researchers intent it now. It
will be near impossible to manage the cooperation from all parties and raise the money to invest
in the much needed information systems. Besides these issues there is also the problem of
individual countries. China acts as a complete black box, which means the organizations here,
have no clue on what is happening at the factory or at other points in the chain that still is on
Chinese territory.
Another example of how it can go wrong is the approach of the US government. They have
implemented a sort of green lane version and are forcing exporting harbors to guarantee the
security of all shipments into the US. However the other way around they enforce their own
harbors nothing and say that the security of importing foreign harbors is their business and they
should take care of the security. So basically the US only checks if the security is organized well
enough by other countries.

6.1.1 Dublin vs. Rotterdam

An especially interesting point for us was to see how both the port of Dublin and that of
Rotterdam handled the innovation in security of harbor logistics. First of all we looked at the port
of Dublin during our visit their. Basically they have a very heavy focus on their core businesses
and regard their security as a necessary evil. They only do what is needed for compliances and
make use of best practices in other harbors.
Rotterdam on the other hand wants to be the leading innovator regarding the security of the
harbor. They see this as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the other nearby harbors.
And like we mentioned before in the paper, they think when they use all the information they
gather for security purposes and utilize them for process optimization they can gain a huge boost
in efficiency and lower their costs. To summarize their differences: Dublin is Re-Active and
Rotterdam very pro-Active.

6.2 Future Research

There are a lot of future research recommendations possible; we will name three that we find very
interesting ourselves. For future research it will mainly be interesting to research the possibilities
how to implement the green lane idea. And the challenge will mainly be in how to get everyone
to participate with it. It will also be very interesting to see how the data mining can be optimized,
since there are still a lot of improvements to be made. One of the key areas is what information to

use out of all the available data. The last thing we find very interesting is how Rotterdam thinks
they can gain a competitive boost from the implementation of new innovative security


Schilling, Melissa (2006). Strategic Management of Technological Innovation. 2nd Edition.


[1] “NATO Defense Against Terrorism (DAT) programme: Countering Terrorism with
Technology”, NATO website, 16-Nov- 2005.



[3] Customs in Port of Rotterdam,
[4] TRANSUMO website,
[5] PROTECT website,

Youtube - EU - Protecting passengers and goods transport in Europe,
Report about security measurements by PROTECT,
otect/Projectbibliotheek PROTECT/Deliverables 2005/PROTECT-D3.1 - Literature Study
Security Measures in the supply chain.pdf

Mayor problems applying wireless secutiry devices in supply chains
Marcus Engler

RFID-enabled innovative solutions promote container security,

P. S. Tsilingiris, H. N. Psaraftis, D. V. Lyridis

Ship, port and supply chain security concepts interlinking

maritime with hinterland transport chains
Gerhard Schilk, Eberhard Blümel, Valerio Recagno, Wando Boevé

Port and Maritime Security: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary

EU Policies
A. A. Pallis, G. K. Vaggelas


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