Towards a Shared European Logistics Intelligent Information Space

SELIS Publications and Press Releases

European Commission Intelligence Body Completes Global Supply Chain Mission

 

Like all aspects of modern business life, the supply chain is becoming a digital entity.

 
Adrian Bridgwater 03/09/2019 00:00:00

Amidst this time of Brexit turmoil, there are, thankfully, some pockets of European Commission (EC) connectivity and collaboration that we can still focus on in the UK, throughout Europe and across the rest of the world.

SELIS (the Shared European Logistics Intelligent Information Space) is a €17 (US$18.8) million flagship European Commission-funded research project and is a part of the EC’s €77 (US$84) billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The SELIS project will be brought to a successful close this month after three years of research and development.

 

Data democracy

The project's outcome is a collaborative, open and cloud-based intelligence platform that encapsulates built-in industry knowledge while providing a trusted data sharing environment for all logistics stakeholders. The platform itself is enhanced by big data analytics that supports pattern recognition and predictive algorithms over massive logistics-related supply chain data.

So what industries does SELIS focus on?

Ah, now that’s actually the wrong question… this is not logistics for one particular industry, this is logistics AS an industry i.e. as a supporting capillary transport mechanism for ALL industries. So that means it’s transport, ports, inland terminals, freight forwarders, urban logistics (in towns) and so on. The lack of data sharing and disjointed legacy systems have been a major source of the logistics industry’s inefficiency. Just to illustrate this, one-fifth of road freight journeys in the EU are performed by empty vehicles.

So which databases and big data analytics engines are being used by the SELIS project to boost transport optimization?

Because it’s all about sharing data, SELIS project management spokespeople have confirmed that its platform has to work across SAP, Oracle and all other major data environments. This is because SMEs will often work with home-grown or custom-engineered data services (some of which could be open source), so SELIS project directors insist that it has addressed integration at the most democratic level possible.

The SELIS project involves 37 partners across Europe, including research organizations, SMEs and large industry players -- with Brussels, Athens and London headquartered project management consultancy specialist Inlecom Systems acting as the coordinating partner. Other prominent industry actors in the project include DHL, Sonae, Port of Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S, MGI International and IBM.

“EU transport and logistics represents approximately 15% of global annual GDP. The sector has substantial potential for innovation-led initiatives that can drive new value. However, for many years innovation in transport and logistics’ IT systems have been impeded by the need to integrate multiple legacy systems and solutions which have not been designed in the context of anticipating or supporting collaborative logistics models,” said Makis Kouloumbis, SELIS project manager and program delivery director at Inlecom Systems.

In terms of operation, from a security perspective, although this is all about data integration and sharing, there are set permissions to govern which people inside which organizations can access which data. This trusted data layer has been enabled by the use of blockchain technology which integrates multiple sources of data to provide greater transparency and visibility of supply chain transactions.

 

CO2 targets

The global supply chain (as a group of people inside logistics organizations) understands that reducing costs, improving operational efficiencies and meeting the European Commission’s CO2 targets represent some of the important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be addressed through enhanced supply chain collaboration.

Because of this core reality, SELIS was established to help create a secure and trusted vehicle which allows it to extract value from shared industry data -- but in ways that enable full control over proprietary and commercially sensitive data.

So how does all the data come together?

“Our platform’s connectivity tools allow data to be collected from heterogeneous sources, thus creating a single data-sharing intelligence space in the cloud, which physically consists of distributed connected data sources from supply chain actors. Connectivity tools include intelligent adaptors including translators to a common Supply Chain Community Nodes (SCN) data model; a publish/subscribe system for many-to-many communication of events with the ability to restrict who can subscribe to what data artifacts; authentication and monitoring services. There is a single-sign-on authorization system for services or data sources, so that participants can deploy services via secure Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) -- SELIS is designed to support Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and microservices deployment for SCN-based applications,” said Dr. Takis Katsoulakos, managing director at Inlecom Systems.

 

Plug-and-play data

SELIS’s Supply Chain Community Nodes are said to offer a secure, user-friendly plug-and-play approach to sharing and analyzing supply chain data, in turn enabling real-time collaboration across communities within the broader transport & logistics sector.

These nodes incentivize and enable a complete transformation of how physical objects are packaged, transported, distributed and delivered in complex supply chains. The project hopes to motivate a faster, more efficient, flexible and sustainable supply chain ecosystem for Europe.

So then, what degree of predictive intelligence is being used to take human tasks away from the burden of EU transport and logistics as a result of the project? Inlecom’s Katsoulakos confirms that the platform can help predict arrival time for trains, ships and other means of transport, it can more accurately plan unloading and synchronize onward transport, enable smoother rescheduling and also predict orders so as to adjust production.

It matches transport demand with available resources, optimizes routes and ultimately increases operational efficiency and the shift from roads to rail and water.

 

Planes, trains & automobiles

Like all aspects of modern business life, the supply chain is becoming a digital entity and so working to tie down the data that drives the ships, boats, tankers, trains, planes and automobiles behind it must also logically form a part of the wider move to digital transformation.

The European Commission’s moves to help digitize and essentially improve this space for the good of the planet are no doubt admirable; we can only hope that the amount of work that the UK has undertaken in connection with this project through Inlecom Systems provides further evidence of the benefits of multi-culturalism and connected international business cooperation.

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SELIS Knowledge Base and Observatory

SELIS Knowledge Base and Observatory its a web-based portal which works as an articles repository, offering public information on business, technology, policy, standards and reference projects, related to the SELIS project.

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