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Partnership Combines Wireless Sensors and Live Detectives

The security solution enables customers to track shipments using cellular-based sensor technology and a manned response team, and via RFID for high-value items.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 29, 2011Flemming Cargo Securement (FCS), a transportation monitoring and recovery services company, is partnering with wireless technology firm OnAsset Intelligence to provide a part-technology, part-manned solution for securing cargo as it is transported by truck from one location to another along the supply chain. The solution employs FCS' manned responses to alerts issued by OnAsset's cellular and sensor-based system. The partners can also provide RFID technology, built into OnAsset's SmartContainer solution, designed for instances in which a logistics company or manufacturer has high-value items to monitor, thereby requiring not just updates via a GSM cellular transmission if a truck's trailer is tampered with, but also an alert in the event that an RFID-tagged item is removed from a specific RFID-enabled container.

For the past year, according to Ray Flemming, FCS' president and CEO, OnAsset has provide FCS with its Sentry 400 device, which includes sensors that measure temperature, air pressure, humidity, light and shock, among other conditions, in a trailer or in the back of a truck. The device transmits its own unique ID number and sensor data at regular intervals to area GSM cellular towers, and the Sentry system software determines the location of the device (and thus the vehicle), based on triangulation of the towers.

Customers that want greater security can opt, instead, for SmartContainer device integrated into a product's shipping container. Like the Sentry 400, the SmartContainer device can issue an alert if a container is opened, or if temperatures exceed a specific threshold, but SmartContainer's built-in RFID reader can detect whether or not tagged products remain within the container, says Nikki Cuban, OnAsset's marketing and business development VP,

OnAsset developed its SmartContainer—which it calls an All-in-One Secure Shipping solution, with built-in sensors and GSM capabilities identical to those incorporated into the Sentry device—as well as an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID reader (the company, Cuban says, has no preference with regard to vendors). The SmartContainer also has an infrared camera that automatically takes pictures when the container is opened. OnAsset can install its SmartContainer technology in Pelican cases in a variety of sizes, Cuban says, though the system can be fitted into any reusable container in which users may already transport their goods. Users would need to tag their own products, such as artwork, high-value documents, tools or precious metals.

While in transit, the reader captures the unique ID numbers of all tags within the container, and forwards that information to a server via the GSM cellular connection, indicating such actions as the removal of one or more items, the opening of the container, or changing environmental conditions within the container. The container is designed for transporting high-value items by air or land, to provide greater coverage of items within a truck or on a ship. Upon reaching its destination, the container is then returned to its point of origin, as any other reusable container would be.

To date, Cuban says, only the Sentry 400 is being used by FCS' customers, but FSC could also provide its customers with the SmartContainer, if they request it, in order to attain additional security for their products.

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