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Schenker Pilots RFID to Secure Cargo Shipments

The company intends to create a modular system allowing customers to choose the security level most appropriate to their needs.
By Rhea Wessel
Schenker will test the equipment for approximately a year—or longer, he says, if necessary. Dedicated Schenker staff in Hamburg and Hong Kong are supervising the RFID-equipped containers. Currently, the containers are being sent consecutively to Hong Kong. By the end of the year, the trade lane will be deemed full and the RFID-tagged containers will continue to circulate in this particular lane only, giving trial operators a continuous overview of the route.

The test is being conducted in two phases. The first focuses on RFID tags, while the next stage will focus on the e-seal and security devices. RFID tags on the containers are interrogated each time liability for the cargo changes hands. This occurs at four points in the port packing stations: two at the originating location, and two more at the container's destination.

At present, the trial is using UHF (860 to 960 MHz) RFID tags and handheld readers made by Intermec. Each tag is integrated into a piece of plastic, designed to protect it from rain and salt water.

In the first step of the process, workers load the containers at a packing facility, where the RFID-enabled device attached to the container is written with select manifest information. This information is recorded onto the RFID module and retrievable by the handheld reader.

The next interrogation occurs at the container freight station of Schenker Hong Kong, where employees unload the container and then check the reloaded container once again before returning it to Hamburg. The final check takes place when the container is unloaded at the Hamburg freight station.

Other project partners include Oracle, T-Systems Enterprise Services, IBM and Kirsen Technologies.

Dietmar declined to disclose the amount Schenker is investing in the pilot, though he did say the company was interested in improving customer service. "We want to be able to tell our customers what solutions are practical for them in the future, but we will also determine which solutions we prefer," he says.

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