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Coscon's Customers Use Tags to Monitor Cargo

Unlike a conventional RFID system, the tags utilize the global cellular network to transmit a container's ID number and location, as well as the cargo's environmental condition and status.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 11, 2009Coscon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Cosco Container Lines Co. (Coscon), is employing new active tags and the SaviTrak software platform, provided by Savi Networks, to allow the logistics company's customers to track the location and status of product-filled containers as they pass from China to destinations throughout the world.

Each tag contains a GPS receiver to track its location, as well as sensors that can monitor a container's internal temperature and humidity, and detect when its door has been opened. When the tag is within range of a GPRS/GSM cellular base station, it transmits its location and sensor data to a back-end system, to be accessed by Coscon's customers (the shippers of goods contained in those tagged containers). Each tag has a GPRS transmitter with a SIM card for global roaming, as well as four RF options (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz) for worldwide operation. Savi Networks, which was established in 2005 as a joint venture between RFID systems provider Savi Technology and cargo terminal operator Hutchison Port Holdings. also provides another tag that includes a 2100 MHz option in addition to the quad GSM bands, for operation in Korea and Japan.

Some of the tags Coscon is using clamp onto the edge of a container's door.

Coscon is a third-party shipping company that transports consumer goods and other products from China throughout the world, and back. The firm sought a system with which it could provide its customers with up-to-date information regarding their products' location and condition via the Internet. With the SaviTrak system, Coscon provides the service, at a cost, to customers that request it. If the service is not requested, the container is not fitted with a tag and the shippers will therefore lack access to condition and location data.

Savi Networks provides Coscon's clients with access to the system, as well as the tags, for a usage-based service fee. Savi Networks not only delivers the tags, but will also reship them to subsequent sites for reuse once they have been removed from a container.

"Our strategic customers now have the ability to get real-time information and location of their cargo during the transportation," says Lin Hongbing, Coscon Logistics' general manager. "It is very easy and convenient for us to collect environmental data in the container, such as humidity and temperature."

Coscon is using one of two Savi Networks tags, depending on a customer's particular needs—the LS model, containing a GPS receiver and security sensors to detect when a container has been opened, or the LSE model, which provides not only location and security data, but also temperature and humidity measurements. The tags are manufactured by an unnamed third party.

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