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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
When a customer requests the service, a tag is attached to the container in which the shipment is loaded, and Coscon employees then link the tag's unique identifier with the container number, the description and purchase order number of the products loaded within, and their destination and estimated time of arrival. This information is stored by Coscon and made available on a SaviTrak Web site that the company's customers can access with a password.

When the tag picks up a signal from a GPRS base station, it transmits its unique identifier, along with any sensor data, including the sensor history if the container has been out of range of a base station (if it has been out to sea, for instance).

One type of tag used by Coscon has a bolt that secures the latch of a container's door.

"It is an easy way [for the customer] to get access to the cargo," Lin says. The system not only provides data when the customer logs into the system, it can also be set to send an immediate alert to both the client and Coscon in the event of an environmental change (such as a temperature rising above a preset threshold) or a security breach (such as a container door being opened when it should not be).

Coscon chose the Savi Networks solution, Lin says, because of its the ease of operation, and because it costs less than other wireless systems.

Savi Networks also offers an option that utilizes 433 MHz RFID tags compliant with the ISO 18000-7 standard, that communicate with RFID interrogators instead of GPRS base stations. However, explains Steve Sewell, the company's senior VP, the system Coscon uses is GPRS-based in order to spare Savi Networks the expense of installing an RFID infrastructure (fixed readers) in every worldwide port. With GPRS, Sewell says, the tags can be read in nearly every port in the world. The LS and LSE tags have been available for approximately a month, he notes, and the system has been deployed by about a dozen logistics companies to date.

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