3D X-ray container scanner

Customs authorities inspect less than 2% of the 752 million (TEU) containers shipped annually.[1,2] With 90% of the world's cargo transported in maritime containers, the EU estimates that its loss in duties, tariffs, and taxes due to misrepresented value, type, and quality of containers' content, to be $302mn annually.[3]

By the year 2023, the cargo inspection market will reach $2.85bn and the 3D imaging market will reach $21bn.[4,5] Physically opening and inspecting 100% of containers is not a plausible option, but 2D X-ray imaging technologies are already scanning many containers as they enter (and leave) ports. These scans are limited in that they cannot penetrate all materials. However, new technologies that conduct 3D scanning can improve inspection accuracy.
Machine learning algorithms use data to train computers to complete tasks without using specific instructions. For example, CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing-test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) asks humans to identify images like road signs to train computers to identify real-life objects. In the case of container scanning, physical inspection data can be matched to the 3D scan to improve identification. Combining 3D imaging with machine learning would increase the security, efficiency, and accuracy of inspections, resulting in better detection of illegal shipments and increasing revenues from taxes and duties.

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[1] ConTraffic Online Services
[2] International Maritime Organization (2017), Safe transport of containers
[3] Security, Surveillance and Detection (2011), Implementing X-ray cargo screening
[4] Markets and markets, (2018), Cargo Inspection Market by Industry (Oil , Gas, & Petrochemicals, Metals & Mining, and Agriculture), and Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World (South America and Middle East & Africa) - Global Forecast to 2023
[5] Prasad, E. (2016), 3D Imaging Market Expected to Reach $21,341 Million, Globally, by 2022, Allied Market Research
More information:
OECD, 2013, Evading the Net:Tax Crime in the Fisheries Sector
World Maritime News,(2017), SeaIntel: Container Shipping Industry Favours Tax Havens
Min, H., Shin, S. S., Lim, Y. K., Park, J. W., & Cho, Y. K. (2014, January). The use of X-ray scanning technology for improving maritime security: an exploratory study. In Supply Chain Forum: An International Journal (Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 48-58). Taylor & Francis.
Kempinski, B., & Murphy, C. (2016). Scanning and Imaging Shipping Containers Overseas: Costs and Alternatives.
Trade, S. (2010). 100% Scanning of Containers. European Commission Staff Working Paper.
Povello, M. (2011). Australian Customs achieves one million sea cargo x-ray scans
The Department of Home Affairs the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (2018). Investigation into delays in processing inbound Containerised Sea Cargo
Kulisch, E. (2016) U.S. lawmakers say with new technology, it’s time to inspect all inbound containers



By Matthew J. Spaniol