Intelligent Goods Characteristics and Architectures
Abstract: The transports of goods are continuously increasing in many regions, for instance within Europe. Often goods travel through many different countries, using several transport modes and involving a number of different actors. As a result, the traffic load on the transport network is increasing, on the roads in particular, and the logistics chains become more and more complex. Implementing some level of intelligence on the goods, which provide them with the capabilities to assist in the logistical activities, is one of the instruments that can be used to make transports and the handling of goods more efficient and controllable. The concept of intelligent goods both opens up for new types of services and may be used to improve currently available services. Our research is mainly focused on the characteristics and possible architectures of intelligent goods systems. In this context, an intelligent goods system refers to a number of interacting components (on-board units (OBU), back-office, RFID tags, etc.), including intelligent goods, which together provide services. The architecture studies are focused on which information and data processing are needed, where they should be stored and which communication links are required. By identifying architectures corresponding to different service solutions, intelligent goods can be valued against other types of solutions, for instance more centralized configurations. In particular, different situations and services put different requirements on a system and the benefits of using intelligent goods vary. We present a framework which can be used to describe intelligent goods systems, including the capabilities of the goods, necessary information entities related to the goods as well as the surrounding entities, primitive functions and the environment around the goods. Additionally, we identify a number of primitive, potential intelligent goods level services which can be used as building blocks when creating more advanced intelligent goods services. The functional and information requirements of these services are also investigated. Based on these findings, a new approach for how to identify and evaluate different architectural solutions for potential intelligent goods services is suggested. Furthermore, a new service description framework is proposed, which can be used to, amongst others, define a service and to perform composition/decomposition analyses. Finally, an investigation of how agent technology can be used to model intelligent goods systems is also presented.
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