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Estimating the Operational Impact of Container Inspections at International Ports


  • Nitin Bakshi

    () (London Business School, Regent's Park, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom)

  • Stephen E. Flynn

    () (Center for National Policy, Washington, DC 20001)

  • Noah Gans

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)


A U.S. law mandating nonintrusive imaging and radiation detection for 100% of U.S.-bound containers at international ports has provoked widespread concern that the resulting congestion would hinder trade significantly. Using detailed data on container movements, gathered from two large international terminals, we simulate the impact of the two most important inspection policies that are being considered. We find that the current inspection regime being advanced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can only handle a small percentage of the total load. An alternate inspection protocol that emphasizes screening--a rapid primary scan of all containers, followed by a more careful secondary scan of only a few containers that fail the primary test--holds promise as a feasible solution for meeting the 100% scanning requirement. This paper was accepted by Yossi Aviv, operations management.

Suggested Citation

  • Nitin Bakshi & Stephen E. Flynn & Noah Gans, 2011. "Estimating the Operational Impact of Container Inspections at International Ports," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(1), pages 1-20, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:57:y:2011:i:1:p:1-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kunreuther, Howard & Heal, Geoffrey, 2003. "Interdependent Security," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 231-249, March-May.
    2. Nitin Bakshi & Noah Gans, 2010. "Securing the Containerized Supply Chain: Analysis of Government Incentives for Private Investment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(2), pages 219-233, February.
    3. Lawrence Brown & Noah Gans & Avishai Mandelbaum & Anat Sakov & Haipeng Shen & Sergey Zeltyn & Linda Zhao, 2005. "Statistical Analysis of a Telephone Call Center: A Queueing-Science Perspective," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 36-50, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Chung-Yee & Song, Dong-Ping, 2017. "Ocean container transport in global supply chains: Overview and research opportunities," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 442-474.
    2. repec:eee:ejores:v:262:y:2017:i:1:p:89-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:annopr:v:258:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-015-2043-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Gharehgozli, A.H. & Roy, D. & de Koster, M.B.M., 2014. "Sea Container Terminals," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2014-009-LIS, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    5. Haphuriwat, N. & Bier, V.M., 2011. "Trade-offs between target hardening and overarching protection," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 213(1), pages 320-328, August.


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