Standard codes for container ports agreed by BIC and DCSA

BIC (Bureau International des Containers) and DCSA (Digital Container Shipping Association) have completed a joint collaboration project to standardise the codes used to identify various facilities at container ports.

The new codes refer to specific locations such as depots, container yards, M&R (Maintenance & Repair) vendors and other supply chain container facilities, organised within a machine-readable database of over 11,000 facilities in 160 countries.

Each facility in the database now has a structured address, GPS coordinates and a 9-character BIC Facility Code assigned to it that can be integrated into existing IT systems.

DCSA says that machine learning techniques were used to sanitise and align a list of nearly 30,000 facility codes from 10 major carriers and lessors, to create a single harmonised structure. The BIC Facility Code will now be integrated into other DCSA standards documentation, such as its Track & Trace standards, to identify specific locations for supply chain events.

An API to utilise the standard is currently available on SwaggerHub, and those wishing to host their own version can subscribe to get automatic synchronous updates. In addition, the API serves both the BIC Facility Code and the SMDG Ocean Terminal code lists, creating a one-stop API for the industry’s 11,000+ BIC Facility Codes and 900+ SMDG Ocean Terminal Codes.

Geo-fencing coordinates are also planned for introduction in the future, DCSA says, to allow operators of smart containers or assets to automatically confirm the facility in which a container is located, or to enable location-based automation.

“Over the last few years our industry’s data silo mentality has rapidly given way to a new appreciation of standardisation and the efficient sharing of data. This new focus has allowed us to conduct a global facility code harmonisation we have long wished to complete, thanks in large part to the DCSA’s assistance in actively engaging the major carriers,” said Douglas Owen, Secretary General of the BIC.

“Moreover, the participants are eager to embrace the API, which will ensure the harmonised codes are widely available and in sync going forward. We see this as an important enabler for digitalisation efforts underway in the industry.”

The BIC Facility Code, or ‘Locode’, was originally developed under international standard ISO 9897, assigned to the BIC in 1997, and is now a listed ‘child code’ of the UN/Locode.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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