Container shipping can be a risky process — between origin and destination, cargo is subject to handling, inspection and transportation methods that often go unmonitored. Put simply, cargo at rest is cargo in jeopardy. When breaches occur, shipping companies are often unable to pinpoint the time and location of the unauthorized access.
While the International Chamber of Commerce estimates the global cost of cargo theft and damage to be approximately $200 billion per year, there’s a clear need for sensible, reliable, low-cost monitoring solutions.
ES Information Systems sought to address this challenge with EyeSeal, an integrated hardware and software solution that can seal a container and provide global visibility of goods.
There’s a clear need for sensible, reliable, low-cost monitoring solutions.
The EyeSeal device fits inside the shipping container, making it discreet and unobtrusive.
“The fact that it’s internal is important,” says Luis M. Balzac, chief communications officer at EyeSeal. “Previous devices needed external antennas to function, making them more susceptible to breakage or tampering.”
Mounted inside the container, the device includes patented sensor programmed to take note when either door is opened. Excessive heat, cold or moisture can impact agricultural cargo, so the unit also tracks internal environmental conditions, including temperature, light, humidity and dew point. Its battery power lasts 120 days or more, an essential point for shipping companies facing lengthy international voyages.
Breach and Environmental Alerts
In the past, theft or other problems en route were only discovered at the end of a cargo container’s journey.
With EyeSeal, cargo owners and shipping companies receive immediate notification when a container is breached or environmental conditions veer outside of established parameters.
If the container is mid-voyage and beyond the reach of cellular contact, the device stores sensor data and communicates it to EyeSeal’s cloud platform when it is within range again.
The instant alerts and reports with verifiable date benefit everyone in the logistics chain, from cargo handlers to insurance companies. These alert and end of voyage reports provide users with factual data that can be shared with key stakeholders” And over time, the data provides insights to drive shipping decisions. “For example, service providers can identify and avoid high-theft areas.Luis M. Balzac, Chief Communications Officer, EyeSeal
An Ideal IoT Partnership
To meet their goals of designing a discrete and internationally compatible solution, EyeSeal needed an IoT partner with the experience and technology available to meet their demands. Telit’s robust hardware portfolio in collaboration with Paragon Innovations brought the combination of size, battery life, global compatibility, and power to make their hardware design a reality.
The Telit xE910 family offered EyeSeal a unified form factor comprised of multiple types of radios including 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE-M and NB-IoT products sharing a common form factor as well as electrical and programming interfaces.
Because shipping containers travel all over the world, EyeSeal needed a global connectivity solution that could keep up and provide the flexibility they needed. Telit brokers connectivity for its customers around the world, with more than 200 countries and 580 operators represented to date. In addition, the Telit IoT Portal allows EyeSeal to manage global connections and SIMs on a single pane of glass.
“Combined with our engineering team at Paragon Innovations, Telit’s IoT expertise enables us to make a tremendous positive impact on the shipping industry,” Balzac says. “By identifying breaches immediately, we’re protecting cargo and improving transparency in the logistics chain.”
The EyeSeal team’s choice of cellular network communication, rather than satellite, offers some distinct advantages: a much simpler installation process, an impressive four-month battery life, increased reliability compared to GPS solutions and a device that is more cost-effective.
Looking to the Future
EyeSeal works with key standard-setting bodies in the maritime shipping industry to encourage the use of such solutions. To date, the devices operate in more than 190 countries worldwide. In addition, EyeSeal is exploring applications of similar technology for intermodal ground transportation. Many trucking companies use similar or identical door designs and shipping containers, presenting another large potential market for the solution.
EyeSeal is many times smaller than competing devices and nearly undetectable from outside the container — an industry first.