TEN-T is a network of nine trans-European logistic corridors designed by European Commission experts to create a more efficient and fluid single European market. FENIX, a project aimed at improving information exchange in the logistics sector, has taken over the information flow aspect of this ambitious project. FENIX proposes a technical basis for information exchange aligned with the EU 2020/1517 regulation, including the eFTI. From April 2019 to March 2022, 11 pilot sites were tested across nine countries, with a wide range of initiatives being explored. While the results of the pilot sites are not yet available, FENIX's efforts represent a significant step towards improving logistics efficiency in Europe.
Don't you start no fight: A Mikado's interlacing
TEN-T stands for Trans-European Transport Network , which since 2013 and the EU Regulation 1315/2013 aims to converge infrastructures with digital solutions to remove bottlenecks, strengthen the cohesion of the European territory towards a single European market, favor more environmentally friendly modes of transport and accelerate the integration of new member countries.
It happens in two phases corresponding to two target networks:
- The Core network targeted for 2030
- The Comprehensive network targeted for 2050.
The TEN-T is interacting with other European projects, including two of them:
- The ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) which unifies the way of operating the railways by ensuring the safety aspects.
- The Motorways of the Sea that you can enjoy in Paint, perhaps the demonic work of a mischievous trainee of the European Commission, but which is above all a subject of common transport policy since 1996 and in gestation since a since a white paper of the Commission in 2001. And this must have been a victim of its success in the bookstore since the URLs leading to it are brain-dead to decongest European land routes.
In April 2019, the Commission is launching a consultation and review process for the TEN-T project, which was expected to conclude in the second quarter of 2021. The latest news seems to date from Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean 's speech on the first results due of the review.
See me ride out of the sunset: A gargantuan area
An interactive map shows the route of the basic corridors (i.e., those defined by EU Regulation 2021/1153 of July 7, 2021, on the implementation of the EIM - European Interconnection Mechanism) and superimposes the associated infrastructure (multimodal nodes, alternative fuel recharging stations such as hydrogen, electric vehicle recharging stations, etc.) or indicators of compliance with various European projects such as AFIF (Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Facility) led by the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility). Although they do not go all the way down to Lambaréné, as in the days of a more colonial Europe, the nine corridors form a tight network around the major trans-European axes.
The TEN-T is the foster mother of thirty priority projects since 2014 and the launch of the EIM. Over the 2014-2020 period, 6 projects (high-speed rail axes, cross-border rail axes, Milan airport, Öresund Bridge) have been completed and €26 billion was committed out of an estimated total of €250 billion for the entire project.
The elements of the TEN-T are:
- Main networks: road, rail (coordinated by RailTeam), air and waterways
- Combined networks: rail-road, river-road
- Infrastructures : Inland ports, airports
- Management networks: Inland marine traffic, airspace, air navigation
I thought we were going to talk about FENIX. You
Wolfgang Amadeus FENIX : A virtuoso alliance
Thank you for following and putting the church back in the middle of the village. FENIX is a spearhead of the TEN-T, a muse of the DTLF, a standard of trans-European interoperability. It is an opportunity to renew a well-known liturgical prayer that we never tire of the litany of the actors of the transport chain. Exporters - at the beginning of everything, Freight forwarders - the only ones to navigate in the dark waters of cascading intermediaries, Mobility infrastructure providers - without whom one is nothing, yet too often forgotten, Bishops and Official Authorities - necessary evils or guarantors of the balance, they are nonetheless central and sometimes ill-equipped to respond to their interlocutors' digital thirst. All these actors exchange heaps of data, FENIX brings its contribution to the construction of an ecosystem that advocates interoperability for the benefit of historical actors but also for future actors and platforms that will soon emerge under the impulse of regulations, technologies, and other 4.0 disruptions.
I've heard that somewhere before. You
Probably in almost all the articles of this blog, which aim at delivering subtle and light variations of the interoperability theme like Glenn Gould declines the Goldberg variations (at Columbia or CBS, we leave the choice to you, efti.io will never be dogmatic).
The FENIX federation materializes in the foreground as a secure data-sharing software framework. When we talk about TEN-T, we have to imagine that physical flows go hand in hand with digital corridors. Federation, since the ecosystem, is decentralized and belongs to all participants who are on an equal footing and follow federated governance. The federated governance pecifies in particular the modalities for becoming a member and the technical aspects of the implementation of connectors to the FENIX platform (FENIX Connector). This is the tactical aspect of a federation. The strategic aspect is to draw up a vision and establish the concepts, and the theoretical basis. Finally, the operational aspect is to provide the technical architecture that serves as a practical foundation.
ERTICO is the chief orchestrator, and GS1 Germany is also very active (those of EDI). ERTICO (for European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination) was founded in 1992, and administered by several logistics players and in partnership with many key market players. The goal is to promote an ITS (Intelligent Transportation System), in other words, an industry standard that aims at interoperability(What a surprise!) through telematics - a fabulously outdated term that brings us back to the inimitable era of Minitel and the ephemeral power of the French IT industry -, understanding the exchange of data between machines. In the thousand-time waltz of acronyms, let's remember that ERTICO merged two standards (GATS and ACP) into a single XML standard in 2003: the GTP (Global Telematics Protocol), about which there is little information.
Counting all different ideas drifting away : Technicity all around
The design principles of the FENIX network are :
- Decentralization: The network belongs to everyone
- Ecosystem for sharing data and services
- Data integrity and sovereignty
We won't delve into the deepest parts of FENIX architecture, but the solutions designed to meet its principles are worth discussing.
To start, it's reassuring to know that each player maintains (or adopts if necessary) an independent platform - be it software, ERP, service provider, or even an old typewriter or punch card. The logic, workings, and governance of each platform will remain the same, but a link to the FENIX connector must be established.The FENIX connector integrates all the specific mechanics of the federated network and has connections to official authorities, certification bodies, and other public institutions. It's the FENIX connectors that communicate with each other, not the client platforms.As history has shown, the incommunicability of ERPs is akin to that of human beings. If you're not convinced, we can send you a proof by fax for just two stamps.Finally, it's important to note that the connectors only transport the message to the intended recipient and don't translate it.
Each connector performs three functions: Identity management (IDM), Data exchange (DXC), and Broker:
- On the IDM side, it's all about Certificates, TLS v1.3 and HTTPS protocols, RSA encryption, AccessToken, Oauth 2.0 and other JWT foundations.
- On the DXC side, FENIX provides either classic EDI exchange, the definition of APIs (towards the jsonification of the world), or the use of a queuing system (RSS and Atom are public and archaic forms - unfortunately not very popular for a free internet but I digress). It is also important to note that when data is exchanged between connectors, the initial message is not modified, it is only encapsulated in a larger envelope. In other words, the platforms remain responsible for the interpretation of the message.
- On the broker side, it allows a connector to obtain the resource catalog of another connector to know what it can get. And then, if the owner has authorized access, this broker can request the resource itself, i.e. the content of the data. All this in a standardized way we are swimming in interoperable delight if need be. A simplistic example would be that of Terminal A and Ship B. First step: A asks B for its catalog: it has the ship's name, the Lloyd code, the ETA, the last port of call, and the next port of call. Second step: A asks B for the ETA and B sends it back if the owner of B has specified that A is authorized to consult this data.
If you feel nauseous, remind yourself that the FENIX connectors are beneficial as they enable each party to retain their software without requiring third-party software to access the information of others. The platforms are authenticated to the FENIX network (via the connectors), which eliminates the need to identify users between connectors. Additionally, this overlay ensures essential aspects such as data confidentiality and security.
From a mess to the masses: From theory to practice
Like FEDeRATED, FENIX is in a hurry to test what sounds good on paper, this theoretical base, this vision, these pious wishes will say the bad ones, these words that only engage those who believe them, will say these same persiflage languages. It dreams of a different future from the Superphénix demonstrator and hopes to be a demonstrator of the feasibility of a trans-European network and the benefits it generates. Let's bet that FENIX is a reactor of initiatives from which many other movements will follow. And here we are again faced with a metaphor that is out of control since the similarity with a nuclear reactor does not end there. A nuclear reactor has many disadvantages, which do not interest us here, but it has the virtue of emitting few GHGs compared to its alternatives. It is one of FENIX's objectives to promote the environmental benefits of the future ecosystem.
We're talking in the present tense, but in reality, the heart of FENIX is the recent past. The eleven sites in the nine pilot countries ran from April 2019 to March 2022. Three years of mobilization of 43 partners, 2 member states and 60.6 million €. Many documents are available and describe some lines of the project: architecture, pilot sites, use cases, specifications and best practices. The introduction is abrupt, but the document D2.1.1 is largely provided in detail about the pilots and associated use cases and connections with the eFTI.
Document D6.2.2 is probably a more progressive introduction that details in detail the benefits and the lines of thought at the end of the UC5b use case during the pilot at the port of Trieste PS IT1 (Pilot site for Italy #1) at the intersection between two TEN-T corridors (Mediterranean corridor, Baltic-Adriatic corridor). UC5b is testing the integration of TM2.0, a Traffic Management tool developed by SWARCO and endorsed by ERTICO, within a FENIX network to lay the foundations for collaborative traffic management in the port and harmonized access to information, especially for truck drivers. This July 2020 document describes the principle and leaves open the question of the feasibility of interoperability. It remains to be seen what the situation is today.
This document intends to provide a high-level description of TM2.0 services aimed at tackling the lack of sharing available interoperable and interconnected data in the supply chain (?) and logistics - this represents the main challenge of the FENIX project. FENIX_Deliverable_6.2.2_FINAL. PDF - July 2020
There is still a lot to say and to come on the subject: the contribution of FENIX to the guidelines of the DTLF Subgroup II, the feedback of the pilot sites, the conclusions of the study published in April 2022 with 122 respondents, the presentations of the technical workshop of May 11 and 12, 2022 and the European ITS congress from May 30 to June 1. There are also sister European projects such as AEOLIX (Architecture for European Logistics Information Exchange) and SELIS (Shared European Logistics Intelligent Information Space) which are sometimes in line with the objectives of FENIX e.g. the reduction ofCO2 and NOX emissions for AEOLIX.