A Smart Answer to Container Security

Logistics group Schenker, number three in global seafreight forwarding, has concluded the first test phase of a new security technology that allows continuous monitoring of containers, writes Sabine Rabach in Cologne.

Radio frequency identification and GPS technology are combined in the so-called Schenker smartbox.

Ten containers were fitted with the smartbox on a service between Hamburg and Hong Kong. Schenker, part of Deutsche Bahn, is not disclosing the results but said it would decide on the next steps once the data had been analysed.

Schenker has developed the smartbox technology in co-operation with technology provider Intermec and Cisco, with Intermec providing the wireless and RFID solutions and Cisco configuring the network. The new technology allows laser scanning at greater distances.

"It is becoming clear that this technology will be ripe for serial production in the near future," said Wolfgang Drager, senior vice-president of Schenker. "The technology promises to be suitable for use on a wide scale, from the economic point of view as well."

However, not only the containers have to be equipped with RFID but the terminals as well in order to reach full functionality. A number of ports have already signed up to an RFID-based container tracking network.

Schenker says the new GPS sensors give information at regular intervals on the condition of a container, for instance sudden temperature changes, shock and its exact location.

RFID replaces the manual seal on the door. Accordingly, liability issues in case of damage can be clarified instantly and in the case of unauthorised access appropriate security measures may be initiated.

As a result the technology also gives new opportunities for improving transport chain security.