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Ctrack Markets RFID-based Cargo-Tracking Seals in Europe

The technology, known as ISIS, enables companies to record which goods are loaded onto and removed from a particular truck—information that can be coupled with sensor data about the location of the vehicle itself.
By Claire Swedberg

One year ago, two Asian companies began testing the technology: a security company in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, that delivers cash for the banking industry, and a logistics firm in Singapore that transports high-value goods to stores. In both cases, the users equipped approximately 40 vehicles with the ISIS telematics hub, and attached I-Seals to vehicles and cargo in each vehicle. In the case of the Malaysian security company, the tags were attached to containers of money, while for the logistics firm, I-Seals were affixed to cartons or pallets loaded with goods. The companies have asked to remain unnamed and have declined to provide specific details about their pilots, citing the security-based nature of this application.

Ctrack's ISIS software manages the RFID read data along with other information, such as where a specific vehicle or trailer is located, how fast it is being operated, when it may have had an impact, if it has diverged from its anticipated route or made unauthorized stops, and when this occurred. Users would first log into the Ctrack ISIS software, residing either on a server hosted by Ctrack or on their own servers. They could then map out an intended route for a vehicle based on the hub's ID number. The unique ID transmitted by each I-Seal's RFID tag could be scanned into the system and linked to the cargo connected to that ID number, along with its intended delivery location and time.

The ISIS software would then determine the specific expected route, and store that data for that particular vehicle. The readers built into the hub installed on the vehicle then read the tags and transmit the collected data back to the server to be compared against the expected delivery route, with any anomalies or exceptions highlighted in real time. The ISIS solution includes a suite of management reports that can be generated on a scheduled or ad-hoc basis, including proof of delivery or failed deliveries.

Ctrack is selling three different models of I-Seals, all manufactured by Mega Fortris and each measuring about 38 millimeters by 83 millimeters by 23.55 millimeters (1.5 inches by 3.3 inches by 0.9 inch). One version is designed to be screwed into the base of a pallet on which cargo is loaded. A second model is integrated with a wire cable that can be wrapped around a load of goods, such as those stored on a pallet and then locked shut so that an unauthorized person would need to break or cut the cable or seal in order to remove it. The third I-Seal consists of an active tag built into a padlock used to secure a container's doors. The active RFID tag in each I-Seal model transmits an alert an alert if someone attempts to tamper with or remove the device.

Each of these I-Seal's tags can also contain temperature and humidity sensors. The tags beacon at a rate of once every two minutes unless a tamper event occurs, in which case they would transmit immediately. At that beaconing rate, the battery has a lifetime of about three years.

According to Lane, the ISIS telematics hub's RFID reader can interrogate the tags at a distance of up to 40 meters (131 feet), along with any other sensor data, and typically sends that information to the ISIS software via GPRS. If the reader fails to receive a tag's signal for more than 140 seconds after receiving its previous transmission, an alert can be issued to the driver or company management. What's more, if tagged items are unexpectedly loaded onto or removed from a truck, the software can also send an alert indicating that status.

Because the software stores the specific delivery schedule for each tagged item, an alert can be issued in the event that a tagged item is delivered to the incorrect location, or is not delivered at the expected site. The software determines that an item has been delivered based its tag's removal. In addition, an alert can also be triggered if the vehicle moves outside of its expected route.

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