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The Columbus Electronic Freight Management (CEFM) project is a Deployment Test of an implementation of the Freight Information Highway (FIH). EFM: An ITS research and development initiative led by USDOT that promotes and evaluates innovative e-business concepts, enabling process coordination and information sharing for supply chain freight partners through public-private collaboration. FIH: An innovative non-proprietary standards-based architectural specification that defines a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) to support business process coordination and secure real-time data exchange. CEFM: A deployment test within the EFM program, which implements all components of the FIH necessary to support a select Limited Brands international truck-air-truck supply chain. The CEFM project encompasses the entire air cargo supply chain, from overseas suppliers in China to The Limited Brand's (LB) distribution centers in Columbus, Ohio. In support of the USDOT ITS Joint Program Office (JPO), an Evaluation Team led by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC, Evaluation Team), supported by the North River Consulting Group (North River), performed an independent evaluation of the CEFM test implemented by Battelle and Transentric (Deployment Team). The CEFM system is a freight data exchange and information management concept, which relies on the Web-based FIH. CEFM used 21 Web services as described in the CEFM Detailed Design Document.3 The supply chain event data used by CEFM is stored in individual partner shadow databases that acted as an interface between the partners' existing logistics management systems and the FIH.
For the deployment test, most partners' existing logistics systems that provided the data were not integrated with the CEFM, where integration means there was no shadow database or user interface. The evaluation included an analysis of the consignment supply chain data that was received and exchanged by CEFM and stored for each partner.
Figure 1 presents the LB supply chain process flow from origin at the manufacturer's factory in southern China through delivery to LB's distribution center (DC) in Columbus, Ohio. The CEFM portion of the diagram is overlaid with annotations of the benefits found during the evaluation.
Since the fourth study area applies to the likelihood of future deployment, it is not included in this phase of the evaluation.
The following Tables 2 through 8 present the various hypotheses, MOEs, and analysis methods used to conduct the evaluation. The quantitative benefits of CEFM data identified in this study area accrued primarily to the other partners in the supply chain rather than to the shipper, LB. It should be emphasized that shipper benefits of improved data quality from CEFM-type data can only accrue if the data is integrated into the operations and existing systems at the company. Manufacturer data entry savings of 5 minutes per PO from only having to enter two data elements instead of eight to book a shipment.
Hong Kong forwarder data entry savings for automating portions of the pre-alert (76 minutes per day). Columbus forwarder labor savings for reducing research to obtain airline data (28 minutes per day).
Columbus forwarder labor savings for eliminating manual work on the daily status report (DSR) (178 minutes per day).
Columbus container freight station (CFS) warehouse labor savings of $4 per error for less time spent researching missing data. Columbus shipper savings for reduced effort in monitoring hot shipments (27 minutes a day).
CEFM could allow the broker to prepare documentation on Sundays, thereby reducing its backlog of Monday shipments, which would potentially help the broker to better spread out its labor force throughout the week.
CEFM data means that the broker can process the current paperwork and the Customs clearance can be processed earlier.
CEFM provided near real-time automated status reports containing all supply chain events that either were not available before, or required significant manual effort to prepare. CEFM provides downstream partners earlier access to PO manufacturer booking and tendering data. Users can access status data on demand that is currently available only from manually prepared daily pre-alerts and status reports.
The CEFM ASN is available at least 6 hours up to 1 day earlier than current EDI versions of the ASN.
There would be a reduction in data entry errors when using CEFM because of less data entry and no need to re-key data on the supply chain.
Improved quality data from CEFM would make it easier for forwarders to respond to discrepancies from the shipper. While CEFM data accuracy was consistent with the EDI and DSR accuracy rates tracked by LB, for supply chains that rely heavily on manual data entry and re-keying information, data accuracy could potentially have greatly improved data accuracy rates. The Federated Status Report is a new report not previously available to users before CEFM, and is generally not available today in any logistics system. The Open Consignment Report and improved airline data were well received by users from the various partners.
All of the LB's partners said that if CEFM was applied to all shipments, they would use the system more, and indicated that using the system would be beneficial. ODW, the one partner who integrated, perceived far more benefit from CEFM than did the partners who did not integrate. ODW, the one partner who integrated, expected that there would be reduced implementation barriers at lower cost; however, this was not proven during the test since additional partners were not added. A recent analysis by members of the broader EFM project team estimated the cost of EFM implementation to be $125,000 for a medium-sized company.


The CEFM Concept of Operations and other program documents defined seven objectives of the deployment test of FIH capabilities in CEFM, which are below with references to specific sections in the full report.
Provide comprehensive visibility of shipment information to appropriate LB supply chain partners. Provide the ability and platform for LB supply chain partners to communicate electronically.
Provide a means for manifest data to be electronically delivered to its intended receivers securely and on a near real-time basis. Increase the ability of LB supply chain partners to collaborate with each other to improve service.
Enable the deployment of universal and distributed applications among LB supply chain partners. For future implementations, it is important for users to understand that CEFM is a supplement to existing systems, not a separate or replacement transportation management system. As much as supply chain professional and Government officials want to reduce transit time, improve shipment reliability, and reduce dwell time, live tests cannot be expected to address these measures. Integrating CEFM system capabilities into an existing system is critical to obtain the benefits of reduced data entry and increased data quality. Partners who integrate are better able to benefit from data quality because they do not have to re-key the data. For the system to be truly effective and usable by the supply chain partners, it needs to be flexible enough to accept and provide data about any partner that may be involved in the supply chain. The OCR should be expanded to include all data elements needed by the users for the various status reports. The airline data capability should be examined carefully to improve its flexibility to address multiple airlines moving freight on the supply chain. Labor savings are the easiest to quantify when looking at the benefits of improved information.
Even though labor savings were the most quantifiable, the partners had a difficult time providing estimates of errors and time to conduct various work tasks.
This part of the evaluation is particularly important to the USDOT, since it will attempt to quantify the national benefits of the kind of automated data exchange included in CEFM.
2 USDOT, FHWA, Columbus Electronic Freight Management Detailed Test Plans (Washington, DC: October 4, 2007). 3 USDOT, FHWA, Draft Detailed Design Document for the Columbus Electronic Freight Manifest (CEFM) Deployment Test (Washington, DC: November 21, 2006). FIH utilizes standard processes, schemas, and definitions that are specific to the freight transportation industry.
Design and development of CEFM were completed during 2006 and early 2007, and the Deployment Test was conducted from May 29, 2008 to December 4, 2007.
The CEFM Evaluation Plan was completed in January 2007,1 and the corresponding evaluation occurred throughout the test and in the several months that led up to this evaluation report. CEFM obtains data from each supply chain partner, stores the data separately (for most partners), and then exchanges the data with other trading partners via Web services using Extensible Markup Language (XML) data standards. As a separate data storage file, shadow database contained each partner's exclusive data within the CEFM deployment test, thereby protecting the partner's production data from the deployment test. ODW Logistics, the container freight station (CFS), modified its existing system to include the CEFM Web services and FIH-supplied data. Sections of the diagram show current data flows, CEFM data flows, and anticipated benefits from CEFM. The hypotheses and MOEs defined the detailed work steps that the Evaluation Team followed in the overall CEFM evaluation. The Deployment and Scalability at study area will be discussed in a second report to be produced by September 2008, the CEFM Deployment and Scalability Evaluation Report. The "stop light" icons indicate whether the evaluation has a positive (green) or negative (red) rating. There may be a derivative benefit to the shipper of savings for other partners; for example, a more efficient forwarder may be able to reduce its rates to the shipper. Some of the partners, as well as LB, told the Evaluation Team that CEFM would be good for small- to medium-sized shippers who have less supply chain sophistication. In reviewing the shipments involved in the deployment test, the Evaluation Team found there were 871 consignments completed. In particular, the real- time polling of partners external to a company is rare, even in the SOA sphere. This was because CEFM provided ODW with more accurate and more timely data to its existing system than was available without CEFM. This was achieved through the implementation of the FIH platform and the receipt of OCRs and Federated Status Reports by users (see the discussion about the CEFM architecture and data flows in sections 2, 3, and 4.2). ODW, the only partner that integrated CEFM with its existing system, thought CEFM could help staff to better plan ODW's operations.
These items were not specifically addressed in CEFM since the "presence" of the three airlines was provided via a third-party airline data firm. Tests that are part of existing operations as occurred with CEFM are generally only a subset of the shipments and the users and managers must first move the freight and second provide support to the test.


Consideration should be given in future implementations to the tradeoffs involved in meeting the complex partner requirements in the supply chain. Care needs to be taken in selecting measures of effectiveness?fewer is better?to ensure that they are achievable and relate to what is happening in the supply chain and in the test. However, the EFM project and the USDOT interests in improving supply chain performance and visibility both deal with potential Government impacts and wider industry impacts. In the second report, the CEFM Deployment and Scalability Evaluation Report, the Evaluation Team will document wider industry improvements in supply chain technologies, which will be completed in September 2008. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Columbus Electronic Freight Management Final Evaluation Plan, (Washington, DC: January 2007). Department of Transportation (USDOT) as part of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program's Electronic Freight Management (EFM) research initiative.
Web services in CEFM automatically send and receive shipment status information among supply chain partners. The shadow database was mainly populated automatically through either CEFM Web services message content, or from the partner's existing Information Technology (IT) system. Where existing logistics systems were not integrated, shadow databases acted as the interface between the existing systems and the FIH. The System Usefulness evaluation confirmed that the system met its functional specifications and requirements in an operational setting and gauged the usefulness of the new system to its users.
For the current data flows, the six boxes show data transferred during a shipment's departure from the origin to the destination at the DC. The primary message of the diagram is that CEFM data is very often available earlier in the supply chain than current data, which translates to benefits to the various partners on the supply chain.
For the purpose of this evaluation report, the evaluation findings are organized by hypothesis.
It is also possible that improved data quality at the partners could translate into fewer errors or exception shipments, with a resulting improvement in on-time performance at the shipper or a reduction in labor to use automated reports from the partners or to research errors or data problems. Large firms that already have sophisticated visibility technologies in place might show some benefit from improved data quality, but as a portion of revenues, those savings might be fairly small. Various partners had indicated that CEFM represented approximately 10 percent of the shipments from the four manufacturers for the two LB brands handled by the two forwarders in the deployment test. ODW's logistics staff used the exported OCR to forecast anticipated shipments (see section 4.3). While these measures are appropriate goals for the supply chain and something that could be used if the participating companies implemented the system in operation, they should not be used in the test itself.
Building on the quantitative and qualitative benefits cited above and included in this report, as well as the lessons learned compiled from the CEFM evaluation, the Evaluation Team's second report will include analysis of the potential benefits from expansion and further deployment of CEFM technologies, both among the CEFM supply chain partners and the wider manufacturing and distribution industries. Using the FIH as an SOA or gateway for automated interfaces within the CEFM provides software capabilities designed to support computer-to-computer interactions over the Internet. Although manual entry input was allowed via the user Web interface for the manufacturer, or by the CEFM Deployment Team, this method only was used when automatic population was not feasible. The evaluation report discusses each Measure of Effectiveness (MOE) and the potential benefits from use of the types of automated information available from CEFM.
To account for overall content completeness, and as a reference to the CEFM Evaluation Deployment and Scalability Report that will be completed in September 2008, Table 8 contains similar information about Scalability and Deployment. A small company with largely manual processes could enjoy a significant improvement in data accuracy, but its magnitude of benefit would be less because its business volume is so much less than the larger firms. The ultimate goal of the FIH (the SOA in CEFM) is to facilitate this status information exchange.
Since the data population was automatic in most cases, CEFM provided near real-time data to the supply chain partners. This graphic also identifies each piece of data as manual (phone, email, or fax) or automated (Electronic Data Interchange [EDI] or legacy Information Technology [IT] system). Since these elements will be evaluated and documented in the future CEFM Evaluation Deployment and Scalability Report, the applicable stop light icons are colored gray.
A company that has primarily manual processes could achieve a substantial improvement over an 8 percent error rate for manual data entry that has been found in earlier USDOT Field Operational Tests (FOTs). CEFM was designed such that only the manufacturer needed to enter data, yet all partners could access the CEFM Website to view consignment status within the supply chain. Below the existing data flows, the diagram comparatively illustrates how and when the CEFM data flows occur. The CEFM Website was known as the user interface, and each partner had a separate user interface. The diagram also compares the LB's 96-hour transit time standard and the timings between respective supply chain events, as calculated using archived CEFM data.




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