DHL uses product-level track and trace system for high-value air cargo

Irving, TX, US: Deutsche Post DHL, is using a track and trace system based on technology from OnAsset Intelligence first piloted in 2009 for a pharmaceutical company’s international temperature-controlled deliveries.

OnAsset uses wireless sensor hardware, called Sentry, which can be placed inside individual packages and is available in a FlightSafe mode for monitoring air cargo.

Sentry records temperature, humidity, light and sudden movement and also sends location data. During flights it buffers data to transmit as soon as it is beyond an airport’s geofence. “It is a good device at the right size with good battery life,” said Jane Seeley, managing director at cold-chain specialist company GeoStasis, but who was at DHL Solutions & Innovations when it engaged OnAsset in the pilot study for the pharmaceutical client.

The fact that the Sentry device travels inside parcels across the entire journey is a key differentiator. The value lay in “getting a chain of custody across the supply chain,” Seeley said,

Clinical trials benefit from such a proactive track and trace system, says Seeley. If Sentry goes out of temperature tolerance, the sender gets an alert that enables action to be taken, such as sending a new batch of a vaccine in a clinical trial. “Many partners are involved in a global supply chain. You can have a number of mistakes happen, leading to temperature excursions,” Seeley says.

The sender also knows if the package is held up in customs. And if anything does go wrong, “because it has GPRS tracking, you know where it has gone wrong and when. If the product wanders, you can find it. You’d never want all the data. It’s about exception management.”

The data from these devices can be integrated into other systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, using OnAsset’s VisionPlatform portal says OnAsset’s chief executive, Adam Crossno. “The VisionPlatform “goes beyond just reporting of location. The system generates heat maps that enable clients to visualise where their assets are and to change notification procedures according to increased risk of security breach.”

“We can blend in crime feeds that flag where there have been cargo or auto thefts in a 50-mile radius,” he said.

Some clients gain “additional revenue streams” by factoring OnAsset into premium services; others use the technology as an internal tool to make their supply chains more efficient, he says.

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