The prototype objective was to create an eCMR indexing prototype for paperless international logistics. It aimed to allow the service providers to index their active eCMRs and the controlling institutions to check the availability of CMR transport documents of the foreign road carriers driving through their territory in a secure and trustful way.
With the use of the indexing service and the indexing number of an eCMR, the appointed government institutions of the involved country would be able to see where the eCMR is stored and receive agreed available data.
The project partners developed a common cross-border indexing scheme – from the principles to the working prototype which was tested with cross-border test cases and against live eCMR service providers.
What business case the prototype is addressing?
Between the Baltics and Poland, thousands of shipments are made daily, accompanied by information, documentation, licenses, and other information relevant to both cargo owners, transport companies as well as public authorities.
Rules for such documentation are covered by various regulations and among the most important ones, bound to the CMR Convention (the United Nations Convention for the carriage of goods). The CMR document deriving from that Convention is mandatory for international shipments and holds key information about the goods, the transporting and receiving parties.
Until recently, the CMR notes were only used in a form of paper, making it time-consuming as well as costly to process them. Along with the general trends in the EU, the electronic format to the CMR, eCMR, has been introduced.
What problem does the prototype help to solve?
An eCMR solution nevertheless can only function when an internationally connected digital ecosystem is available which would allow the data exchange on those documents along the transport corridor.
During the time of the initiation of the prototype, there already were eCMR service providers available and governments capable and interested to read the electronic data that they are entitled to check. The governmental institutions in partner countries could nevertheless yet easily accept the electronic eCMR, even if the legal ground for it existed at the time of the project implementation. The missing link was and still is a secure and trustful way to exchange eCMR data between governments and eCMR service providers.
What data is to be exchanged?
Minimum viable data over and existing eCMR has been introduced to the national and international indexes. The content of the CMR data was not meant to be exchanged within this indexing.
What were the methods for data exchange?
E-government compatible distributed approach with application programming interface (API) accesses was deployed using distributed ledger technology (DLT) approach and platforms through API. Every authorized governmental institution involved in testing was able to access minimum available indexing information via specialized access and use a link (URI) to request original documents relevant data directory from eCMR service from the county and service of origin.
How the prototype was tested?
The testing of the digital trade route between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland was held in August-September 2020.
The project countries tried to use real-time freight information to reduce paperwork in the road transport sector and unjustified downtime during the roadside checks. With the prototype, it was no longer necessary to stop the vehicle, as the load can be controlled by just entering the truck and trailer registration number to the system.
The goal of testing was not only to verify the possibility of cross-border information exchange but also to prove the benefits to all parties in the supply chain through practical experience and gather direct feedback, which is crucial for agreeing on the next steps.
Who belongs to the prototype development team?
The prototype development team includes the governmental organizations, logistics and road carriers’ associations, consulting experts, and leading software development companies with an international background.
The indexing principle was integrated from previous discussions on the possible steps on digitalization of eCMR data, the eGovernment interoperability models, the work done in parallel by the DIGINNO project as well as from academic research results of the WP3 team members.
The DIGINNO-Proto project was guided by the Ministry of Economics and Communications and coordinated by a Steering Committee consisting of Lead Partner and representatives of DIGINNO WP3 Lead (INFOBALT) and WP4 Lead (Aalborg University Copenhagen).
For the technical implementation of the prototype, the Advisory Board was formed, consisting of the respective consulting experts from the four project countries.
The development of the technical solution was conducted by a service provider FITEK EDI working under a Procurement Tender contract.
The testing was performed with multiple national partners and with the participation of the representatives of relevant public authorities in the partner countries.
Who are the main stakeholders and the benefits for them?
The prototype will allow a regional shift from paper CMR to eCMR – an opportunity for both businesses and authorities to gain efficiency and transparency through digitalization.
The prototype will enable businesses to manage their supply chain more effectively and simplify communication with public authorities: once the eCMR document is created, it can be shared electronically with the necessary authorities or business partners. It will also improve the data quality in the freight process by integrating activities into a single network of information systems and reducing the risk of recurring errors.
For the public sector and authorities, it will reduce the time used on stopping trucks and checking their papers. Obtaining data in a machine-readable format will enable applying the advanced risk analysis tools and focus on the cases with a higher risk factor instead of routine inspections. It also lowers the number of offenses related to tax avoidance and transport safety.
How the outcomes of the prototype are expected to be used after the funding ends?
In each project partner country, there is a strong commitment from public institutions as well as businesses and associations to remove barriers that hinder the cross-border eCMR usage. The same direction legislative and solution development processes are ongoing on the European Union level under DG MOVE with high community support from Digital Transport and Logistics Forum.
European Regulation on Electronic Freight Transport Information (eFTI) enters into force from August 2024. By this time, the information flow between business and authorities will become mandatory in the EU. A good example of a regional and well-functioning cross-border eCMR indexing scheme could be scaled to other EU and neighboring countries.