Monday, August 08, 2011

Tracking and Monitoring Shipments on Aircraft - M2M Devices

OnAsset's Nikki Cuban
I had the good fortune of spending time with Nikki Cuban of OnAsset Intelligence and Wally Devereaux from Southwest Airlines today.  We discussed a new M2M (machine-to-machine) cargo tracking system designed for use on airlines called SENTRY FlightSafe.

I am reporting on this topic because it fits into the "real-time enterprise" paradigm and it introduces a new set of functionality for shippers that has not been available until now.  Using wireless, mobile and M2M technologies, companies can now track and monitor all kinds of shipments onboard aircraft. 

Many vendors have cargo tracking M2M devices that wirelessly report location, but what is unique about the SENTRY FlightSafe solution is that it has been certified as safe to use on aircraft.  The SENTRY with FlightSafe has a unique patented built in intelligent radio suppression system.  Here is how OnAsset describes it, "The FlightSafe technology is a patented feature unique to the SENTRY platform.  Its combination of embedded sensors and advanced processor algorithms intelligently control its functions to comply with FAA regulations.  Just as passengers are asked to turn off their cell phones prior to takeoff, FlightSafe does this automatically."

The SENTRY tracking system does much more than report physical location based upon GPS coordinates.  In addition, it has an array of sensors in its smartphone sized package that records environmental conditions around the device.  The sensors record the following:
  • High accuracy GPS, AGPS
  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Humidity (by request)
  • Accelerometer (Tri-Axis)
  • Shock
  • Vibration
  • Motion
  • FlightSafe aircraft detection
What kinds of shipments need this type of tracking system?  Nikki said it is targeted for high value cargo.  She listed a few as:
  • Human organs for transplant
  • Medical specimens of all kinds
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Electronics
  • Gold
  • Imported flowers
  • Etc.
Nikki added that there are literally thousands of high value and perishable products that would be a good fit for this tracking and monitoring device.  In fact, Southwest Airlines announced this new solution to their shipping customers and all kinds of interesting use cases are now being discussed. 

What are the ROIs?  Here are a number that Nikki mentioned:
  1. Confidence is everything in the shipping and logistics business.  Customers must have confidence that your company can deliver their cargo safely.  Providing the capability to track and monitor the shipment is big!  Now shippers can provide this capability for air shipments as well.
  2. Lower insurance premiums by reducing theft, loss and spoilage.
  3. Reduce administrative costs and distractions caused by theft, loss and spoilage.
  4. Improved customer services by providing visibility and peace of mind to your customers.
The smartphone sized SENTRY devices are valuable in themselves.  Each company that uses them must devise a system whereby they can be retrieved and reused.  I was particularly impressed by the fact that the SENTRY M2M devices can be wirelessly reconfigured for different use cases.  This is huge and will lower the TOC (total cost of ownership) of these devices.

Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.