Low-Cost Digital Container Seal Developed
A new low-cost, digital seal has been developed for the CORE (Consistently Optimised REsilient Secure Global Supply-Chains) European Research Project by Dutch software company Itude Mobile.
Babbler requires no installation in the fabric of a truck or container and enables the integrity of the shipment to be monitored online via a smartphone app. The seal is broken if Babbler’s sensors detect light. Both the seal status and the temperature of the cargo can be inspected wirelessly via Bluetooth or a long-range radio option, LoRa. The LoRa network for Internet of Things applications is now widely available across Europe and enables customs authorities to access the Babbler log some hours before a vessel berths.
Babbler was initially tested for CORE by FloraHolland, a giant flower auction cooperative seeking to help Kenyan growers to reduce their logistics costs and simplify the import/export process.
Roel Huiden, supply chain consultant at FloraHolland comments: “Flowers must be kept at 0.5ºC to maintain quality, but when a container is opened, the temperature inside rises. Avoiding unnecessary inspections preserves freshness, as well as speeding up delivery. But the price of protection is critical in this market. Costly security devices available to shippers of high-value cargoes are simply not an option. For low-value goods, especially those that spoil easily, Babbler offers protection at an affordable price.”
Named after a vocal song bird, Babbler recently exposed a diesel theft during one test in Kenya. Huiden said: “A refrigerated container of flowers was sealed in Nairobi before making the long road journey to Mombasa, during which thieves disconnected the generator for half an hour so they could safely syphon off fuel. But Babbler sang: it recorded the unexpected spike in temperature, revealing the time of the theft and helping pinpoint those responsible.”
The system has now been adopted by CORE partner Seacon Logistics in a bid to establish trusted trade lanes around the world. “That is, trade lanes where inspections are less likely because customs can rely on our data pipeline for smart data sharing and the Babbler logs to reveal if a container has been opened in transit,” said Joris Tenhagen, CORE-Project Manager at Seacon.
Seacon is working closely with Dutch authorities, and after six months of testing, is about to expand the use of Babbler into other trade lanes including the U.S.