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Royal Freight Expects Trailer-Tracking System to Yield Greater Security

The shipping company is managing its fleet with new solar-powered units containing door and cargo sensors, to detect if a theft occurs en route.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 23, 2010Royal Freight a shipping and transportation company based in McAllen, Texas, has begun using a wireless locating system from I.D. Systems to track the location and status of its trailers throughout North America. The new system provides the company with visibility into the location of the trailers and the cargo they contain, and also offers status alerts in the event that a trailer is opened while in transit. What's more, the system provides more robust power management that includes solar power panels.

The system incorporates the VeriWise technology that I.D. Systems had acquired when it purchased GE's Asset Intelligence Solutions division in January of this year. Each VeriWise sensor device stores a unique ID number linked to trailer data in the company's back-end server. It also contains a GPS unit to track the trailer's location, a CDMA cellular transmitter to transmit the ID number and location to cellular towers at regular intervals, and motion, cargo and door sensors. With the new system, Royal Freight expects to have greater location data about each of its trailers as they are being transported by its own tractors and drivers, as well as by third-party transportation providers. In addition, the firm anticipates being able to ensure greater security for the trailers' freight—typically, consumer goods and just-in-time raw materials and components

A sensor installed in the front of a trailer can detect if cargo is present.
For the past seven years, Royal Freight had been using a different vendor's wireless, satellite-based tracking solution to keep a closer eye on the locations of its trailers throughout North America. Without such a system, trailers risked ending up pooling in storage yards while there may have been a shortage of trailers at other sites, simply because the company wouldn't have had visibility into where the empty trailers were located.

The first tracking solution Royal Freight had installed on its trailers provided each trailer's location and ID number, which the firm utilized to better manage the location of its fleet, and to reduce instances whereby it had too many or too few trailers in a particular area. "We were very pleased with the product we had," says Jason Head, Royal Freight's operations manager. As time passed, however, some of the devices were failing due to dead batteries, and replacing them was expensive. In addition, he says, the company was interested in expanding the system to not only track the trailers' location, but also know if the doors were ever opened during transit.

Trailers are vulnerable to theft when truck drivers park them in lots or on the side of the road, especially overnight. Thieves can break into a trailer and steal a partial load, and the driver could then deliver the load without being aware the theft has occurred. Security was even harder to verify when the trailers were being transported by third-party carriers.

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