Satellite-Based Cargo Security System Makes Debut

System uses tags, sensors connected via satellite to alert security directors of breaches


The businessmen sat anxiously around the table at Belmont Abbey College, their eyes fixated on a small computer monitor.

After nearly a half-hour, a red square flashed on the screen signaling that a sealed truck trailer parked miles away had been broken into. They couldn't have been happier.

Officers of the Belmont-based security firm Powers International Inc. said their product, which notified them of Tuesday's simulated breach, can help companies protect their products from contamination or theft. They're also marketing it as a homeland security device.

Powers International plans to debut its Sea Cure Satellite System today in the campus' Student Commons building for about 100 prospective clients from around the world. One of the company's founders, Jim Giermanski, leads Belmont Abbey's international business program, although the college played no role in the product development. The system is only for commercial use.

The daylong event includes the satellite system demonstration and several lectures on global security and transportation.

Company President Ed Harrison said the Sea Cure system offers a new way to keep cargo secure by linking identification sensors currently used by many companies to a satellite tracking system.

Radio frequency identification sensors have long been a popular tool for companies wanting to keep track of their products. Many shoppers might recognize the sensors as the big plastic tags attached to pieces of clothing in shopping malls.

But Whitney Norton, a board member for Powers International and private consultant, said linking the sensor to a satellite that transmits information via the Internet means a container's contents can be monitored anywhere. Additional sensors can be added to track other data.

Companies also are alerted via e-mail when a breach is noted.

"There's no other system out there that does all of that," Giermanski said.

Giermanski said he and other principals founded the company two years ago. He said only about 6 percent of trailers and containers are inspected thoroughly by the government, making it impossible to tell whether all cargo is safe.

He said the satellite tracking system will cost about $50 per month. After purchasing the sensors, which can be retrofitted into existing containers, companies also will receive a set of keys that allow workers to load and unload items on the trucks.

Power International also has promoted the product to government bodies, including leaders from the European Union, said Frank Hoffmann, the company's vice president for Europe.

Though Tuesday's initial practice run took a bit longer than expected, company officials appeared pleased at the results.

When Giermanski sealed and locked the trailer, it contained only a ladder and a few tools. A search afterward confirmed the trailer had been breached, even though the door was still locked. It now contained another ladder, along with two boxes that had been painted to simulate drugs or explosives.

The sensor and satellite tracking system had done its job.