There are currently numerous types of 'smart' containers or 'e-containers' on the market that can be tracked and provide real-time data on their movements.
The tracking and tracing of containers and trailers is no longer a choice but a necessity. This applies to commercial supply chains, as well as to the transportation of military or diplomatic cargo. National security is also an issue, as relatively few containers entering the US or EU are inspected. It is paramount for good practice and security reasons to monitor containers from loading to unloading, and to have information about the contents of the cargo even before the container is loaded onto the vessel - just as there is a need for the tracking and knowledge of the eventual transhipment.
Current regulations governing containers
Arguably, however, the current standards do not adequately cover the inherent and actual risks associated with container transportation and there is still reluctance in the shipping industry to absorb and implement the benefits of modern technology.
In the case of a military supply chain, tracking regulations fall under the control of military logistics departments and authorities. Hence, we could assume that cargo monitoring is at its best. But is it? Tens of thousands of containers a year remain unaccounted for in military deployments and, more importantly, without a proper e-container tracking system, combatants may suffer the consequences of improper logistics and not be as well protected as they should be.
Solutions may come more from the tracking and monitoring of containers, as opposed to the securing of them. The threat of terrorism can never be eliminated, but it can be mitigated. The defence sector wants to secure and maintain the visibility of its goods, while companies in the commercial sector invest in solutions that provide such visibility. One of these is Zenatek.
The Zenatek tracking system
The Zenatek tracking system (ZTS) was designed in line with a strict cost control, with the aim of developing a container tracking device at an affordable price, which could provide most of what is needed by the end-user in terms of tracking and monitoring. The ZTS monitors containers in transit anywhere around the world, tracing their tracks while providing real-time information on the exact location of the containers at any time. It also alerts you in the event of any tampering and/or temperature variances, which are communicated to you via GPS/GSM/the internet to your personal computer or mobile. It is a comprehensive service that includes a container tracking device or CTD, which is a one-way-throwaway unit. It does not need to be retrieved at destination, as all the information on the trip has been traced and is already in the system, at your fingertips.
Battery life is guaranteed to provide four months' service at a rate of one message a day. Notification times and intervals, the number of positions per message and the quantity of messages each day can all be remotely configured and reconfigured, even after the shipment has gone. The device will trigger alarms when the temperature inside the container goes under or over a predetermined threshold, and the device also alerts you when the temperature returns to the threshold nominated by the user.
The Zenatek tracking device has a geo-fencing capability, meaning that if the trailer or container is moved to another part of the port, the device will wake up and trigger the corresponding alarm. The system also has the capability to send an alert message when the container doors are opened, providing geo-coded proof of delivery information to the consignee, along with the comfort of knowing that the shipment has reached its destination, and that there has been no unauthorised opening of the container doors.
These alerts are sent by the web-based system designed by Zenatek, via e-mail and SMS to the user's mobile phone. The user can then log in with an encrypted password and user ID, and view the position of the container and the nature of the alert. The system pinpoints the position of the tracking devices to within a few metres anywhere in the world by using multiple mapping solutions via Zenatek's web-based tracking portal. Each user having access to the ZTS portal could find real-time and historical locations of the container or trailer.
In less than a few minutes, the tracking device is attached to the container doors by two powerful magnets. No tools are needed for installation, including the use of a universal plate adaptor for aluminium containers or reefers. Once the shipment is gone, real-time data is available at your fingertips, right from the first moment of activation.