Descartes Acquires Ireland-Based RFID and Customs Firm ASD

Published: May 2, 2024


  • With ASD under its umbrella, Descartes can provide RFID airline-based asset and goods tracking systems as well as its existing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) cargo management.
  • The acquisition of ASD is Descartes’ 31st purchase since 2015.

Logistics and supply chain technology company Descartes has acquired Aerospace Software Developments (ASD), an Ireland-based, provider of RFID solutions as well as customs and regulatory compliance under the name Thyme-IT.

ASD, located in Dublin, has been providing customs filing solutions for importers, exporters and Logistics Service Provider (LSP)’s to meet Irish regulatory requirements. However, the company offers RFID solutions to help global airlines eliminate manual tasks and comply with various airline regulations more efficiently through the unique identification, tagging and tracking of assets.

Descartes indicates that ASD’s RFID solutions complement its own Core Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), real-time tracking platform for the air cargo industry. Descartes’ Global Logistics Network (GLN) provides a way for shippers, carriers and LSPs to connect and collaborate.

Now with the acquisition—the $61 million deal is Descartes’ 31st in the past nine years—the global company can leverage ASD’s Irish customs domain expertise as well as its RFID based solutions.

ASD RFID Products for Aircrafts and Customs

ASD offers several products and services related to UHF RFID-based management of assets for airlines and aerospace companies. Among the solutions are:

  • RFID AeroCheck, which enables aviation companies to track RFID tagged assets on aircraft without individually searching and examining each piece of equipment. Individuals with handheld readers can simply walk through the aisles of the plane and capture the full inventory of assets.
  • RFIDAeroSecure, a solution that allows users to accomplish in-cabin security checks of life vest pouches and boxes, laboratory walls and other possible contraband storage. Unauthorized opening of any of these areas is reported next time the plane is checked, with a portable RFID reader. The company reports that the entire cabin can be checked for security violations in less than two minutes.
  • RFIDAeroTrack, used by aviation-focused companies to allow for the management and tracking of RFID-tagged items using a network of RFID fixed readers or handheld devices. Repairable items and other components, tools, assemblies and kits can be uniquely identified and monitored within a company’s RFID-enabled environment.

Additionally, ASD offers a USB-connected RFID reader that can read and display information encoded on an RFID tag for confirmation and quality assurance purposes. Combined with an existing laptop, the reader is intended to provide an inexpensive RFID read or write capability at locations where cargo or assets need to be identified.

Descartes Air Cargo Tracking Technology

Since 2021, Descartes has been offering its BLE tags and readers to track the movement and status of air cargo equipment and shipments that pass through the supply chain.

The BLE technology provides long range (up to 100 meters), real-time location data where Bluetooth connectivity is available. Descartes’ Open Network Initiative has aimed to expand access to the network to third parties that have BLE tags or beacons. The Open Network is aimed at providing freight forwarders, airlines, ground handling agents and express carriers with real time visibility of equipment, parcels and cargo shipments as well as mail through global locations in the supply chain.

Now with the ASD acquisition, Descartes can provide RFID solutions for companies seeking to track goods or assets with the relatively low-cost, battery-free technology.

Cross Border Filing Support

Descartes officials noted a specific selling point for the deal is the border crossing support solutions that ASD has traditionally offered, such as Thyme-IT.

“Descartes recognizes the value of streamlining cross-border trade with preparation, filing and visibility solutions for customs declarations, cargo security and other regulatory mandates,” said Scott Sangster, Descartes’ general manager for logistics services providers.

“For the air logistics community, the ASD acquisition brings new RFID-based asset tracking capabilities to help global airlines and ground handlers eliminate manual tasks and comply with various airline regulations more efficiently through the unique identification, tagging, and tracking of assets,” said Sangster, as well as providing additional capabilities in customs and regulatory compliance for Ireland.

Deal Expands Digital Capabilities

Together, Descartes and ASD can now offer global airlines and ground handling agents (GHA) an expanded set of capabilities to digitize the identification, tagging and tracking of a wider array of air industry assets, Sangster added.

In addition, the combination is intended to provide a broader range of customs and regulatory compliance solutions to help importers, exporters, and LSPs meet regulatory requirements for transporting imports and exports more securely and efficiently.

“As customers increasingly look to cover more business processes with one provider, we continue to add solutions to the Descartes GLN, in order for them to do so,” said Sangster.

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