Consignments, transport equipment and shipments are part of a logical data model forming the basis of the TradeLens platform.
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Three related classes
Our platform is based on a logical data model with three related classes: Consignments, Transport Equipment and Shipments. The main purpose of the platform’s events model is to start and track consignments, transport equipment (containers) and shipments, while managing the IDs and relationships between them.
The TradeLens platform allows a consignment to be in multiple transport equipment (along with other consignments), and for a transport equipment to be part of multiple consignments.
For instance, a consignment of shoes_from_company1 could be split among multiple transport equipment. There could also be shoes_from_company2 in some of the transport equipment.
Shipments and consignments can also have a many-to-many relationship.
The vast majority of events happen at container level. The TradeLens platform uses transport equipment to track the movement of a container’s goods from one place to another.
The term container is generic; along with intermodal shipping containers of all sizes, it encompasses single-unit cardboard boxes and anything in between.
Containers are the units being moved.
The physical container participates in multiple transport equipment operations over time. Transport equipment can be created before the exact physical container is known. Consignment or shipment planning happens most often before the physical container is picked from the depot stack.
A consignment represents the link between what is transported and how it’s transported, ie partial, full or multiple containers.
From the TradeLens platform perspective, a consignment carries several essential attributes. It also functions as an aggregator for transport equipment. This means some events that are sent to a consignment, and are relevant to the containers, will result in the platform sending that event to all of the transport equipment involved in the consignment.
Similarly, subscribing to a consignment will route all the transport equipment events related to that consignment to the subscription endpoint. This allows participants to operate with a commonly shared identifier.
To learn more about subscriptions, including how to subscribe to TradeLens data, check out our Subscriptions Overview guide.
Shipments are a pouch of trade documents. They give insights into the transport progress and are a way to track relevant shipment references.
Shipments are TradeLens’ fundamental object for trade aspects. They mirror the consignment, which is the foundational object for transport and logistics.
Official UN/CEFACT definition: a shipment is an identifiable collection of one or more trade items (available to be) transported together from the seller (original consignor/shipper) to the buyer (final/ultimate consignee).
- Can only be destined for one buyer.
- Can be made up of some or all trade items from one or more sales orders.
- Can only have one Customs UCR.
- May form part or all of a consignment.
- May be transported in different consignments.
TradeLens isn’t intended to be a purchase order management system. We don’t support detailed cargo management at PO/SKU line level.
However, the shipment trade object does support tracking based on PO/SKU reference numbers (and many other types) for a shipment. This makes the data searchable and TradeLens data compatible with Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain Management platforms.
The shipment trade object provides an object that trade partners, particularly sellers and buyers, can use to share data and documents.
Shipment association with consignment
The logistical movement of traded goods is handled through one or multiple consignments. In the simplest scenario, the shipment is moved by a single consignment. Often, though, a many-to-many relationship exists between shipments and consignments, reflecting how goods are consolidated in Less-than-Container-Load scenarios.
Shipments can span multiple consignments, such as inland and ocean consignments in merchant haulage scenarios. Meaning that shipments can group ‘sibling’ consignments that aren’t otherwise directly related.
Data sharing with customs authorities
Shipment data, especially certain documents, is relevant for sharing with customs authorities. In the transport (consignment-based) space, TradeLens determines the relevant customs authorities from the transport plan. This isn’t applicable for shipments, though. Instead, customs authorities are associated with shipments through two attributes:
- originCountry: where the shipment comes from.
- destinationCountry: the shipment’s final destination.
This approach lets shipment parties prepare a full set of documents before sharing them with the relevant authorities.
TradeLens uses matching logic to associate incoming events with a consignment, transport equipment or shipment trade object. There are some cases where an event can’t be matched. If this happens, the platform keeps the event in a special area and will be associated with the trade object if further information is received that enables a match.
- If there’s only one consignment with the carrierBookingNumber, and an event specifies a consignment identifier, then the event will be matched with the consignment.
- If there’s more than one consignment with the same carrierBookingNumber (as in a split consignment case), then either the consignmentId, or the carrierBookingNumber and billOfLadingNumber are needed to uniquely identify the consignment.
- If an event specifies a transport equipment identifier and a transport equipment exists that matches the identifier, then the event will be matched.
- If an event specifies a shipment reference (reference and type) and a shipment exists that matches the shipment reference, then the event will be matched.
For an event submitted with a transportEquipmentRef or an equipmentNumber, a carrierBookingNumber can also be specified. The event will only be matched if a transport equipment reference matching the transport equipment identifier exists, and is associated with a consignment that matches the carrierBookingNumber.