Electronic supply chain manifest systems reduce the amount of time and paperwork required to transfer loads, and can improve operational efficiencies for shippers/receivers, trucking companies, and air cargo carriers.

December 2002
Chicago,Illinois,United States; Los Angeles,California,United States; New York City,New York,United States; Toronto,Ontario,Canada

Summary Information

This benefit summary describes the efficiency and security of an internet-based electronic supply chain manifest system (ECMS) against a traditional manual paper-based system. ECMS was designed to save time and money by automating the transfer of cargo information from one mode of transportation to another. The American Trucking Associations Foundation (ATAF) deployed the system at O’Hare and JFK International Airports, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) monitored the performance of the system for 2.5 years. The project was carried out in three phases with the primary objective being to improve the efficiency of cargo data transfer between manufacturers, truckers, and airline carriers.

At the beginning of Phase-I, participation included over 500 drivers and 11 airlines and/or freight forwarders. The study focused on providing truck drivers and facilities with biometric finger print scanners and smart-card devices to authenticate driver identification, and confirm cargo transfer at airports. Drivers could expedite cargo transfer by quickly identifying themselves using personalized smart-cards, and in some cases could store cargo seal information on smart-cards to confirm chain of custody.

Phase-II of the project involved the use of internet technology to catalog cargo manifests and facilitate transfer of information between manufacturers, truckers, and airline carriers. The catalog system enabled participants with biometric/smart-card devices to upload manifest cargo information onto the internet at the point of origin. The EMCS system would then automatically send e-mails to supply chain partners downstream to notify them of scheduled transfers, and participating drivers with biometric/smart-card devices could access this information and adjust their schedules to minimize downtime.

Phase-III of the project was designed to increase the functionality of the internet based manifest control system by providing additional information to regulatory agencies regarding high risk cargo and dangerous goods.

The benefits of electronic manifests, smart cards, and biometric devices were measured by comparing the time required to process manifests using the automated system against the time required to process manifests using the traditional paper-based system. Customer satisfaction data were collected using questionnaires to measure participant perceptions.


The following results show the time saving benefits of automated versus manual processing (biometric/smart-card authorization vs. manual duplication/photocopying of all paperwork) at transfer points. The time-on-task data were collected at several sites and included a limited number of participants.
  • Manufacturers saved at total of five minutes and 22 seconds per shipment by reducing the time required to find documentation, fill out manifests, verify loads, and validate driver sign-off.
  • Trucking companies saved a total of 8 minutes and 11 seconds per shipment by reducing the time required to accept loads at the manufacturer, create master manifests, and make deliveries at airports.
  • Airlines saved a total of 2 minutes and 52 seconds per shipment by reducing the time required to accept loads at airports.

Benefit Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Benefit

To comment on this summary, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


Electronic Intermodal Supply Chain Manifest Field Operational Test Evaluation

Author: Jensen, M., et al.

Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

Source Date: December 2002

EDL Number: 13769

Other Reference Number: Report No. FHWA-OP-02-XXX



Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Benefit

(click stars to rate)


Benefit of the Month for August, 2005 !

Benefit ID: 2003-00254