By Maxim Perry, VP Sales & Product Starcom Systems
There are many technological disruptors being spoken about as we enter the new decade. Terms like AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and EV (Electric Vehicles) being just some examples. Some examples can be put down to hype, some are old buzzwords renamed. AI, for example, was Machine Learning before and Big Data before that. When it comes to shipping, whether by land, sea or air, what are the true technological disruptors to watch for and where is the technology heading?
Tracking & Data in Shipping
In plain language, tracking and data are the main disruptors for shipping. We all thrive on having accurate information and have a need for instant access whenever or wherever we are. GPS and Cellular technology is advancing with 5G networks being rolled out globally. Being able to accurately monitor and track goods in transit is becoming faster and more accurate. As we track, monitor and log this information we are also gathering data. We will see a convergence in these two fields to not only improve information, but to optimize operations and security.
Tracking hardware has developed enormously over the past decade. Not only have units become lighter and smaller, but also in the functionality offered. Products like Starcom System’s Tetis track containers globally. Tracking is covered by both GPS and Cellular networks, meaning containers can be tracked anywhere in the world. The technology has moved beyond just tracking. Tetis R and Tetis Hybrid, for example, also monitor temperature, humidity and light. This means that refrigerated cargo, or cargo that is sensitive to temperature, humidity or light can also track and alert small changes that could affect the contents of the container that could prevent losses. The additional use of light sensors can alert to containers being opened (therefore letting light in) meaning additional security for containers.
Not every shipment is a full container and value is not determined by size. Sometimes the smallest packages contain the most valuable items. Kylos takes tracking down to specific cargo. So if you want to monitor a single box that could be transported within a larger container, or part of other shipments, tracking technology needs to be packaged in a much smaller unit. The trackers themselves need to be smarter. Other than also monitor light and movement, they also need to be able to conserve power in a smart way. The Kylos units, for example, only send alerts and tracking information when they need to: daily tracking information and alerts on defined triggers for security or protection.
Not every shipment is transported by land and sea. Air shipments have new issues to adhere to. One of the primary functionalities to consider is being able to turn off cellular transmissions during take off and landing, something that Kylos Air does automatically.
Tracking can also be embedded in a padlock as with Lokies, a smart keyless padlock, or Watchlock Cube that is a box that fits over an existing padlock. In each case, the shipment is tracked by the actual lock. Sensors can also send real time alerts for when the lock is opened or even tampered with, or, if the battery needs replacing.
The additional use of a smart lock like Lokies means that being keyless, access can be granted to specific people at specific times. Examples of current usage includes who gets access to shipments in international customs. It could be the shipper or importer giving access to customs or customs giving access to importers in a bonded warehouse.
The 2020s will see the use of smart tracking increase. It is not enough just to know where goods are, but their conditions, security and access will become vital in optimizing operations and preventing losses.
Make it Easy
We are all bombarded with new technology; the technologies that make use simple are ultimately the ones with the highest penetration to daily life. Product designers will continue to look at ways to make their products simple to use. Tetis or example is easy to install on any container, Kylos is simply placed in your shipment, and Lokies replaces existing lock or in the case of Watchlock Cube simply covers your existing lock.
Real time tracking and alerts are vital, but the information gathered will prove to be invaluable as we move into the new decade. Companies are searching for ways to improve performance, such as delivery time while minimizing costs – in other words: saving time and money!
The data recorded during shipments will be invaluable. The data, like any data, can be mined and analyzed. Operations, routes and idle time can all be optimized to reduce both time and costs in the future.
In addition, alerts can be created for real time alerts based on rules gleaned from data analysis. Cargo that is deviant from expected behavior can be identified instantly, giving the ability for monitoring and corrective measures. If this all sounds like science fiction, the technology already exists, such as our Online Web Application. The question is not if, or even when, but how far we can take smart tracking data analysis in the 2020s.
We will see tracking, security and data analysis technology continue to develop in the new decade with even more emphasis on accuracy and real time alerts to make sure shipments, no matter the size or method of shipping, arrives efficiently, safely and as in-tact as possible.