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Sunday, April 10, 2005

RFID Solution For Tracking Marine Containers

The conventional wisdom is RFID solutions are to be used to track small items,frequently used items or items which are parts that need to go into a larger product for optimising movements. Nope - here's a case of RFID technology being deployed for tracking marine containers as these move through ports. Informationweek reports,Marine terminal operator SSA Marine is testing a new cargo-container tracking system to see if it will help the 225-year-old company more accurately and efficiently track shipping containers as they flow through its California ports. Excerpts with edits and comments:
Currently, when cargo containers are unloaded from ships, workers must go to each container to log the container's identification number. The cargo containers are often stacked five high and six lanes wide throughout hundreds of acres of land. Ed DeNike, chief operating officer of SSA terminals at SSA Marine, which had $1.2 billion in annual revenue last year, says 10% to 20% of the container IDs aren't copied correctly, which causes the company to lose track of containers. "We have two or three people working every day to find containers," DeNike says. "You need technology to help automate the process." The company began testing a system that uses active RFID tags on container-handling equipment such as cranes to track their location. An optical character-recognition system installed on the cranes captures an identification number from the side of a cargo container. That ID number and the location of the cargo-handling equipment is wirelessly transmitted to business-intelligence applications, which pinpoint the location and status of each container. The solution should help the terminal keep track of cargo containers and reduce the costly errors that result from lost containers as they move through the port.
My Take: Wireless and RFID is a deadly combination that can help a lot - a powerful solution has to combine good middleware, transactional,buisness intelligence, anlytics and reporting system - the key here would be managing the huge explosion of data that RFID brings within the system for processing and well thought out analytics is needed to bring in best results. Look forward and integrate this RFID enabled feature with customs and port movement system -you have a highly integrated framework in place for the port authorities and the marine operators.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"