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Controlling 20,000 containers

24th April 1982, Page 42
24th April 1982
Page 42
Page 42, 24th April 1982 — Controlling 20,000 containers
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AT ANY ONE time there may be as many as 20,000 containers within the Freightliner network. And the Container Operations Processing System — COPS is Freightliner's method of monitoring and controlling them. What does it do for users? According to the Freight Transport Association user department, it led to dramatic improvements in the service to members within a couple of months.

COPS is an on-line, real-time computer reporting system. The central database, located in Birmingham, is a Honeywell computer under the control of Freight Computer Services. This is linked by Post Office lines to all Freightliner terminals as well as London headquarters.

The location and current status of containers can be determined in a few seconds. Additionally, information is retained on the computer file for three months and can be recalled equally quickly. COPS, therefore, has significantly increased both the speed and the range of information available to customers and Freightliner staff alike.

The booking is transmitted to the COPS database. Then, stage by stage, the information is updated — for example, as an empty container leaves a Freightliner terminal; when it returns with the consignment; the transfer from road to rail; the arrival of the train; the transfer back to road; the delivery. So, at any time, an up to the minute picture of each container's status can be obtained, almost instantly.

COPS has two principal features — processing and message switching. The message switching facility is similar to telex, allowing messages in plain language to be rapidly exchanged within the Freightliner network — and also with cus tomers.

Processing is done by compu ter programmes written specie to cater for events or inquirie and requiring input message arranged in simple code Ian guage. All the relevant fact about any container, whethe Freightliner or customer ownec are instantly accessible at an time.


Organisations: Post Office
Locations: Birmingham

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