Focus on data quality

Published on: 11 October 2018
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Data quality boosts cargo flows

What does “data quality” mean? How is this relevant to performance within a port community? Christophe Reynaud, Innovation Manager at MGI tells what lies behind the logistics data you use, to help you see what will soon be possible.

One of the strengths of Ci5 and Channel 5 is the way that data is used, which seeks to leverage on the data assets generated by the port community. So how does this work? It’s all based on some key concepts from the world of big data: data volume (the amount of data), variety (the many sources and data types), velocity (how quickly data is generated and updated), veracity (how authentic the data is) and value (whether and how the data can be used).

Good data – yes please!

In developing Ci5 and Channel 5, important questions have been raised about data quality. It very quickly became clear that if Ci5 were to work well, it would require members of the port community to ensure good quality data was input into the system, and Channel 5 could be used to spot any problems in real time. This issue is absolutely key if everyone is to fully benefit from the improvements and innovations provided by Ci5 and Channel 5.

The “good data” checklist

Data quality is built on a variety of criteria. Good data, firstly, is unique, with no duplication. It also needs to be complete and accurate, to ensure it is relevant and valid. Compliance and consistency are other important criteria, requiring adherence to various rules and efforts to ensure there is no conflict between different pieces of information. Last but not least comes the concept of data integrity, involving checking the relationships between key data items . These criteria are managed in a dynamic way as cargo moves through the port, to ensure the data is up-to-date, accessible, relevant , understandable and usable.

No garbage, please!

Anyone who designs information systems knows how frustrating incorrect data can be. IT people use the catchphrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out”! Any wrong or incorrectly coded data can disrupt the streamlined Ci5 process, making it difficult to gain time by anticipation in the port process. An incorrect container number, for instance, may mean extra work for someone. It might not be detected by the tracking function (event notifications, cargo statut), and another partner in the supply chain will not be able to manage their automated processing ahead of time. Channel 5 will detect these risks as early as possible and alert users accordingly.

If there are any interruptions to the in-port logistics processes, similar problems occur, requiring additional work, incurring extra costs and affecting the overall reliability of the system. If a booking is created but the freight forwarder has not been properly identified, the forwarder will have to manage an extra operation, which might lead to errors in the export process.

A third key point is about the way data is used, particularly for statistics. When there is a wide variety of data formats, some using proper standards and some not, it is complex and costly to extract statistics and the resulting conclusions may not be reliable. If the harmonised system for cargo announcements is not widely used, this has a knock-on effect for the production of reliable statistics, which could be used to assess logistics flows and for quality decision-making.

Harmonisation to ensure data quality

The Ci5 system has therefore been designed and developed from the ground up to ensure optimum data quality at all times as cargo moves through the port. The new system will enhance operational performance and support decision-making by providing relevant and accessible data. By rolling out the use of standardised data formats and references (e.g. for dangerous goods types, cargo packaging types, etc.) and harmonised processes, data sets with baseline quality standards can be handled, optimising the advantages offered by Ci5 and Channel 5 and improving individual and collective performance by all system users.

By Christophe Reynaud, Innovation Manager at MGI.

This post was written by Sandie Hili

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