An information architecture to enable track-and-trace capability in Physical Internet ports

Patrick B.M. Fahim*, Rowoon An, Jafar Rezaei, Yusong Pang, Benoit Montreuil, Lorant Tavasszy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


The Physical Internet (PI), a new vision for the future of the global freight transport and logistics system, describes a geographical hierarchy of interconnected networks of networks, from the urban, to the national, the continental, and the global level. Like today, in PI the maritime ports will fulfil roles as continental and global hubs. Differently than ports today, however, decisions to split and bundle cargo across ships and other modes will not be made solely on the basis of long-term agreements by ports, but rather ever more dynamically and in real-time, aiming to reconsolidate shipments within the port area. This implies a need to reconsider the currently used information systems (ISs), and to gain understanding of future requirements to satisfy their needs. We exploit a design science research (DSR) approach to shape these requirements. Among the many components of future ISs, we study ports’ track-and-trace (T&T) capability. The proposed information architecture (IA) enables to integrate T&T capability in PI ports by means of information carried on PI containers into the logistics chain via an open interface platform, which also supports interoperability among the various actors’ ISs. The design is based on the Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 (RAMI 4.0). This model supports the analysis of PI ports in key dimensions along with hierarchical logistics entities, which could be used as a blueprint for IAs of PI ports, globally. We provide insights into the approach's applicability by means of the illustrative case of Teesport, located in Northeast England (United Kingdom).

Original languageEnglish
Article number103443
JournalComputers in Industry
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Industry 4.0
  • Information architecture
  • Interoperability
  • Logistics
  • Physical Internet
  • Track-and-trace


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