Heineken is to trial a tracking system which will tell it exactly where its beer shipments are, even in the middle of the Atlantic.
The brewer has deployed the solution to track 10 containers full of beer travelling from the UK and the Netherlands to its distribution centre in the US.
The project, which it calls "The Beer Living Lab", uses triangulation techniques of both satellites and cellular base stations to locate exactly where the cargo is.
Integration has been completed with IBM WebSphere service oriented architecture (SOA) to maintain a paperless trail of the beer's journey from customs in Europe through US customers and into the distribution centre on the other side of the Atlantic.
The process will eliminate the need to fill in up to 30 documents on each journey, and could vastly decrease the amount of time the beer spends in transit.
The SOA-based architecture will also allow the creation of distributed data sources, rather than Heineken having to run a large central database. This means data can be shared in real time.
"If governments around the world are serious about electronic customers and paperless trade, they need to encourage each country to adopt open-standards environments to enable collaboration and data sharing throughout the trade lane," said Stefan Reidy, the manager of IBM's shipping solutions unit.
"The Beer Living Lab project is the first step in building the Intranet of Trade, which will help to substantially improve efficiency and security in the global supply chain," Reidy added.