GS1 for standardized concepts in port logistics

Research: 2016

Standardization of concepts in port logistics can increase efficiency in the port. Is it possible to create a list of unambiguous definitions by means of GS1?



Does standardization of concepts in port logistics contribute to the efficiency of port logistic processes? The quick scan Adaptation of Standards for Supply Chain answers this question with: yes. Precise and unequivocal description of logistic concepts, such as ‘draft’ or ‘cargo unloaded’, enables more efficient handling and more accurate planning as well as coordination in the logistics chain.
Defining such a glossary is possible through GS1.

The quick scan states that supply chain visibility enables decision-makers to make informed decisions in the logistics chain. In order to realize supply chain visibility, organizations must share information with each other. A standardized glossary is required for this.

Safety can also be improved further by using unambiguous concepts, such as: ‘arrival of ship’. For the Harbour Master, a standardized conceptual framework for the sea-side of the port and the directly linked transport flows towards the hinterland is desirable.


  • Promotion of safety – Standardization offers the Harbour Master the opportunity to further minimize ‘errors’ in the port processes.
  • Better communication – Less noise in the handling of cargo yields a more efficient process, which makes cost reduction possible. Nowadays often too much time is reserved for a process, in order to simply create a loose time fit. When there is more clearance about what exactly needs to be done, it is possible to schedule tighter and save on the total handling time.
  • Strategic – While drafting these standards, Rotterdam also sets the standard for the actual related logistic processes.


  • Critical mass – a certain number of users, large ports and carriers, is necessary for successful rollout and use.
  • Business case – Can a business case be made for the application of the standards in practice? Which losses will disappear with the standards and what is the potential yield?
  • Governance – Who becomes the owner of the glossary, who will maintain it? (The Harbour Master’s Department of the Port Authority was the client for the quick scan.)


  • More efficient logistical chain, saving on time and costs.
  • Increased safety.
  • The application of real-time data and further digitalization of processes.


Erasmus University Rotterdam, Port of Rotterdam Authority, TNO.

‘Roughly 80% of goods is transported by sea, why have supply chain standards never been used?’

Ben van Scherpenzeel

projectleader, Port of Rotterdam Authority

This project is part of the Smart Logistics roadmap. For more information about this project or this roadmap, please contact project developer Anique Kuijpers.