Satellite-Linked Heineken?

Well, it looks like the party might soon be over for the generations of euro-tripping backpackers who’ve snuck a few bottles of French wine into Germany or bottle of the illicit green stuff from central europe into Ole’ Blighty… shucks!

Our good friends at vnunet are reporting that Heineken Brewery (makers of Dutch delight drunk around the world), in association with IBM, international shipping company Safmarine, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam), and customs agencies in the US, UK, and the Netherlands, are beginning a program to track cargo container shipments of Heineken beer from Europe to the United States using satellite and cellular technology.

Called the "Beer Living Lab," the main goal of the project is to create a paperless documentation trail using IBM technology to provide real-time visibility of the product and interoperability through wireless sensors linked to its WebSphere platform.

According to IBM project Manager, Steffan Reidy, the results of this research effort could be used to improve customs processes around the world:

"[It’s] the first step in building the ‘Intranet of Trade’, which will help to substantially improve efficiency and security in the global supply chain."

Or, as Vnunet reported:

"Once accepted and implemented widely, paperless trade will support initiatives that will eliminate most inspections on arrival, thus significantly speeding up ocean freight shipments and improving the profit margins for shippers."

While this might mean it might be a little harder to sneak some booze across the border (especially if and when the technology is combined with RFID tagging of shipped spirits), the potential savings that could be passed down to consumers and improved port security probably evens things out a bit.

Want even more information about the Beer Living Lab? Think about taking a brief sojourn to Amsterdam in the next few days… the lab seems to be having a workshop on the technology on Thursday.