In a development likely to gladden the hearts of frat boys everywhere, a multinational consortium is testing a technology that promises to shorten the beer run—the international version, at least. The new project, called the "Beer Living Lab," will track cargo container shipments of Heineken beer from Europe to the United States using satellite and cellular technology. The goal is to create a paperless documentation system that allows data to be shared in real time between Heineken, the ocean carrier, and customs authorities in several countries, thereby resulting in faster customs clearance, speedier deliveries and reduced costs for international trade.
For the test, ocean carrier Safmarine will ship 10 containers of Heineken beer from locations in both the Netherlands and England, through those countries' customs stations, to the Heineken distribution center in the United States. The University of Amsterdam will coordinate the project and provide best practices documentation to share across the European Union.
"The Beer Living Lab [will provide a foundation] for the next generation e-customs solutions," says Dr. Yao-Hua Tan, professor of Electronic Business at the University of Amsterdam. "Companies using these solutions could benefit greatly due to less physical inspections by customs; thus these ecustoms solutions greatly facilitate international trade."
Participants in the project are Heineken, IBM, Safmarine and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the University of Amsterdam), which are working in conjunction with Dutch, U.K. and U.S. customs officials.