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China Launches E-tagged Int'l Container Route
    2008-03-10 22:44:45     Xinhua

A Chinese vessel with e-tagged containers sailed on Monday from Shanghai to Savannah, United States, marking the opening of the world's first international e-tagged container route.

The doorbell-sized e-tags installed on the latch of a twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) will record information about every procedure the container goes through in the whole transport process. It will record delivery and off-loading time, real-time TEU conditions and time and place of legal, or illegal, opening.

The information will be transmitted through a wireless regional Web network to a website for monitoring. If a container is illegally opened enroute, the e-tag will automatically record the "intrusion" and put out a red alarm signal on the Website.

The system will greatly enhance cargo safety over long journeys.

"Ningbo," a vessel owned by the China Shipping Container Liners Co., Ltd, will arrive in Savannah, a major container port in the state of Georgia, in about one month.

The e-tag was developed by a research team led by Bao Qifan, Shanghai International Port (Group) Co. Ltd vice president. The system tested successful on the container route between Shanghai and Yantai in the eastern Shandong Province.

At a Ministry of Communications seminar on Monday in Shanghai, experts believed the monitoring system could "significantly improve the safety and efficiency of container transportation".

The system is also believed to be able to help to prevent stowaway and smuggling cases.

Shanghai has been driving to become an international shipping center. Its TEU throughput exceeded 26 million in 2007, ranking second globally after Singapore.

China's TEU transport has seen a 30 percent annual growth in the past decade. In November, TEU throughput on the mainland exceeded 100 million.

The invention and use of TEU e-tags is a technological breakthrough for the Shanghai Port to expand influence and raise its international shipping status, according to Bao.

Currently, the Shanghai port has 42 TEU piers with routes to more than 300 ports worldwide.

The e-tag developed by Bao costs about 50 yuan (about 7 U.S. dollars) and can last 10 years.

Shanghai plans to install the e-tags on 10,000 TEU between China and the United States in about two to three months.

The development of the TEU safety locks in foreign countries is still in an experimental stage due to technological and costs problems, the vice president said.

Shanghai International Port will put forward a draft TEU e-tag standard at a TEU standard meeting in April in Hamburg, Germany, according to Bao.



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