Innovative Measurement Systems – technologies for monitoring load transport conditions

Nowadays, the geographical distance does not constitute an obstacle and is not even the main factor when choosing production sites, searching for suppliers and new markets. All means of transport develop and complement one another in such a way that the only worrying issue is the timeliness of deliveries and the condition of delivered goods. Large number of competing companies in a given branch of industry leads to the point that the margin for further competing with the time of delivery and its price becomes very narrow. The transport conditions of the delivered goods is the factor that soon is going to be decisive when concerning the quality of freight transport. Why is it going to be this way? Namely, the goods and the vehicle are both under the risk of many dangerous phenomena. Some of them are caused by humans and others result from the natural environment. Meanwhile, most damages are impossible to be detected until there is physical contact with the goods when they reach their destination. However, it is often too late to determine where and who is responsible for a given damage.
 
 

Is it really a  problem?

 
According to ECE Global, manufacturers and distributors of perishable goods (pharmaceutics, frozen foods, dairy, seafood, medicines, chemicals) annually transport 5 billion pallets with the total value of 2.6 quadrillion of US dollars. Moreover, the total sales value in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors is expected to grow from 142 billion of US dollars in 2011 to 215 billion of US dollars in 2018. According to the same institution, the loss from improperly executed logistic and transport operations also run into billions of dollars. For the 
frozen food sector it was 32 billion dollars in 2013, for the dairy sector it was 34 billion dollars, and in the pharmaceutical sector the damages reached 5.4 billion dollars.
 
The losses attributable to damages incurred in the logistic chain have various origins and causes. They are normally analyzed for responsibility of the logistic process participants and risk, frequency and value of the events. This, on the one hand, allows to create proper compensation mechanisms while, on the other hand, allows to develop effective methods for limiting the risks of such events.
 
Chart1: The value of damages and frequency of loss events in the logistic chain
 
 
Source: Monitoring cargo conditions - a crucial component of risk management in intermodal transport, Transport Week 2014

As one can see, the damages in warehouses constitute only 2% of the incidents, 48% of the incidents occurred during road transport, 25% of the events concern maritime transport and about 18% air transport. However, it is worth noting that the value of damages in air transport is disproportionately high when compared to other means of transport.

The next chart depicts the most frequent causes of loss:
 
Chart 2: The value of damages and frequency of loss by the individual causes.
 
  
Source: Monitoring cargo conditions - a crucial component of risk management in intermodal transport, Transport Week 2014
 

Rough handling, which is careless handling of the load (excessive stress, shock, impacts, etc.) causes 60% of the events. On the other hand, the environmental conditions (e.g. inadequate humidity, atmospheric pressure), collisions and improper temperature are the causes of a relatively small number of events, but they generate substantial loss. This is because they affect the entire load that is in a given vehicle.

 

Solutions to the problem

Partially the problem is tackled by insuring goods. Unfortunately, it is just an apparent solution. Firstly, payment of compensation does not proportionally compensate the loss of time required for manufacturing and transport of new goods, what can play a crucial role e.g. in the case of pharmaceutical products or for stability of companies, whose business activity depends on highly specialised products. Secondly, it is simply a problem of wastage which is disastrously ignored in the developed countries. After all, the money does not contribute to finding the exact location and cause of the damage. Nowadays, a great amount of goods are shipped by several means of transport within a single supply chain. What is more, several different contractors may be involved in a single type of transport. “The problem arises when the insurer compensates for the damage and the companies suspected for inflicting its start casting blame on each other. This leads to dilution of responsibility, and in practice makes it impossible to clearly indicate the one responsible for the damage and to establish at which stage of transport the damage is inflicted. Having this in mind, it seems even more difficult to rationally determine the risk and to predict some events before we start a logistic operation” – says Jakub Fijewski, an expert in implementation of Internet of Things in logistics. This state of affairs makes it impossible to choose a reliable contractor and build positive business relationship. With more and more efficient reloading procedures in the intermodal freight transport, the possibility to detect the failures will become even harder.

 

The omnipresent Internet is the solution

The global network has spanned almost the entire Earth. Along with its development, people started connecting further parts of reality with the virtual world. Even now it seems that the Internet and technologies are present in our every activity. However, as Maciej Szeptycki, technical director of Cisco Systems Poland, said during one industry meeting , it is estimated that currently there are 12.5 billion of devices connected to the Internet, but it constitutes only 1 percent of all objects that can be connected to the network. The global network of computers is being transformed to the global network of devices and things, the so called Internet of Things, and for every computer or smartphone there are several other devices connected to the network. However, before long something will be created, or rather it already exists, something what was named by Szeptycki the market of “The Internet of Everything”. Three sorts of connections are present there: machine-machine, human-machine, and human-human.

The Ericsson company prepared a report  where they estimate that after the year 2020 there will be over 50 billion of online devices worldwide. What is more, as Mr Szeptycki indicated, the value of the “Internet of Everything” market may reach 19 trillion of US dollars. Therefore, we will gradually develop new solutions which will connect the elements of physical world which, until now, have not been present in the virtual world. The way of using and analysing the data generated from these connections is the second and equally important element of this process. This trend covers all aspects of life, including transport in its wider sense.

 

It is happening now

Even today, almost every transport company uses at least the simplest telematics system. Nevertheless, the solutions concentrate mainly on monitoring the working time and activity of drivers, communicating with them, assistance in achieving an eco-friendly style of driving and choosing the best routes, as well as tracking their current location. When taking allthe above mentioned aspects into account, the systems strictly caring for the load will become a natural complementation of this branch of economy.

The solution to this are loggers - devices recording parameters of various physical forces affecting a given load. These devices are already present on the market, but majority of them work offline and just collect data. Most of the devices store limited data (usually temperature and humidity). The reading takes place after the goods reach their destination what makes it impossible to react quickly and minimize the losses. A complete and valuable solution is where the transported goods send real-time information if they are carried in unfavorable conditions. “If all carried loads (and every single shipment – editor’s interjection) sent the data about the conditions of their transport, it would be possible to precisely determine the cause of each damage and, as a result, indicate the entity responsible in a given moment for the carried goods. Analysis of such data would certainly streamline the process of loss indemnification and provide the data for the risk assessment. Today we are lacking a clear-cut tool to easily determine markers of risk in the entire supply chain, and especially in the transport process or so called logistic gap (reloading, loading, unloading)” – Fijewski explains. Moreover, real-time data about damage to the carried goods like vaccines, human organs, blood, etc. will make it possible to react quickly and send another delivery before the “customer” identifies the problem at the place of destination. This functionality is also crucial for detecting abnormalities when transporting hazardous goods which, if damaged, may in large scale endanger third parties.

 

There are already some solutions concerning this aspect available on the market. For example, Fedex from February 2014 provides a service of monitoring the status of consignment. “The system consists of two tools that record the parameters of a given shipment, which is placed into the container with the shipment. The second part is a web application, which enables the customer to monitor the location and other parameters of the shipment in near real-time” – explains Mariusz Mik, the Chief Executive Officer for operations in Poland. The sensors record relative humidity, temperature, exposure to light, shock and barometric pressure. The device is equipped with a dry ice probe, which measures temperatures from -80°C to +60°C, and also a cryogenic probe which can monitor shipments within the span of temperatures from -195°C to +60°C. Unfortunately, the given service is available in Poland only for international shipment, moreover, it is not simple and easy in use and as Mik indicates, it is most often applied by medical and pharmaceutical industries. As proven by time, functionality and usefulness of this service is extremely narrow and available only for units that do not have an access to other alternative market.

More accessible, efficient and cheaper device may, however, prove to be a product, developed by the Polish capital. That device is available for all shippers and carriers regardless of their size and area of operation. The Green Logger device developed by the Green IT company, apart from a wide span of parameters (its possibilities are depicted on the two graphic diagrams), is distinguished by small size – 5-7 mm thick, 50-80 mm in diameter – depending on the design version, independence from external energy sources (1.5 year of battery life), or an executive control module (remote switch-off, or switch-on of the logger, e.g. temporarily during air transport to prevents interference with aircraft instruments). In fact, all the data is collected simultaneously by one device. The device itself constitutes a component of a much broader system that has a high degree of functionality and ability to adapt to multiple tasks. The monitoring system is an open system that is constantly developing, enriching itself with new functionalities. 

 
 
 

As was mentioned earlier, Green Logger is just a single element of the entire system – the Green Control System, which comprises of peripherals (data recorders) and applications integrating and processing the measurement data in the cloud computing - the Green Cloud.

The Green ASR loggers are designed for geolocation of a vehicle, monitoring its technical parameters, diagnosing and detecting states of emergency. Apart from standard data like speed and location in relation to GPS satellites, the loggers will collect information about their battery levels, overload, gradient and tilt. It differs from the classic telematics systems in such a way that an automatic detection of accidents and collisions can be set on the basis of the measurement data. It can also automatically send alerts about emergency situations, and also even remotely control the central lock and closing of side windows. Green ASR is also the element that helps taking advantage of all functions of the logger.

The Green Control Web is a superior system managing the work of loggers and working in the cloud computing environment where data virtualisation from the loggers, exchange of the data, its analysis, and communication with the external environment takes place. The software is installed by the service provider, namely Green IT which is responsible for its maintenance. Such a model of using this application is convenient for the customers (logistics, forwarding agents and transport companies) and allows them to make additional savings because it does not require to hire an entire IT team to manage it. Each user logs into the system by using his/her unique identifier (Green ID). Green Control Mobile, which is a set of applications for Android 4.0 / 5.0 platform for mobile phones and tablets, ensures functionality of the Green Control Web platform on mobile devices. The applications are based on the user ID which is shared with the Green Control Web.

The crucial features of Green Logger include on-going data recording in the logger memory (if the memory volume is full, the older data is replaced by the most recent records), automatic data transfer to any Green ASR logger which is in range – after the pre-set memory volume is full or in the event of emergency situation, possibility to set alerts and threshold values of parameters from the web application and mobile application, possibility to work without the Green ASR logger and to manually send the data to the server by means of NFC technology or a mobile application. At present the Green Control System is undergoing tests of the prototype of the entire system and peripherals (loggers). By the end of 2016 it is planned to introduce a pilot system and conduct its commercialization in the form of a SaaS (Software as a Service).

 

Is it going to work?

The problem was noticed by global institutions and governmental organisations, which work on introducing legal solutions which would accelerate the changes in this sector. For example, the European Union introduces the 2013/C68/01 – Good Distribution Practice of Medicinal Products for Human Use regulation where indication of functionality of environmental parameters of the carried goods measurement constitutes one of the most significant factors. Another example is the SFDA – Good Supply Practices Guidance regulations in China. In Poland, a project of The Centre for Analyses in Transport and Infrastructure based on monitoring environmental parameters is aimed at certification of carriers for safety of carried goods, and development of a national system for collection and analysis of damage data.

 
 

Loggers provide benefits for all participants of the logistics and transport chain. Each of the involved entities will be able to use the data for its own purposes and, at least in a minimal way, influence the entire process of transport quality improvement, thus improving its attractiveness among the competition. As a result of such solutions, the forwarding companies can control the processes and quality of services provided by carriers. Loggers will become an essential link in the already developed future systems, e.g. controlling conditions in a given container. They may be applied completely outside the transport industry if human resourcefulness chooses that way.

 

Universality not only for logisticians

Green Control System operates in GreenCloud cloud computing environment, which is the basis for Green Team – a business and development services platform created by Smart IT cluster. Green Control System is only one example of applications that can be based on it in many areas of life and economy – from logistics through intelligent power grids, city management to telemedicine as well as corporation and SME management. Green Team Platform is open and available to everyone who is interested in creating IT products in SaaS model (Software as a Service). The cloud computing is a model enabling common, comfortable, available on demand access to shared range of possible to configure processing sources. Cloud computing refers to renting computer infrastructure (devices) as well as apps, shared via the

 

Internet

The use of cloud computing possibilities in case of Green Control System enables the client to avoid costs connected with the necessity to employ the whole IT team and constitutes a great alternative to company data center. Making only small investment in IT infrastructure, the user is able to work with personalised system, managed and maintained by the supplier. While configuring proper scope of services, the customer can manage, for example: its fleet using GreenCars, the management of the team and information flow using Green Office or Green CRM and many others.

The advantage of GreenCloud system is its continuous expansion and the fact that it is designed for individual needs of customers. The universality of the software is proven by the system of available apps. Such model enables the client to gain additional savings. They do not have to invest in their own server room with proper infrastructure and system that would guarantee uninterrupted operation.

The main functions of cloud system are as follows:

  • system of storing and exchanging data in the cloud,
  • management of the resources,
  • safe authorization of servers and services to the resources,
  • integration with external systems on the resources center level,
  • integration of device designers with apps creators.

 

The applications integrated with GreenCloud have high

  • level of protection which is ensured by:
  • control of access to CRM data,
  • tracking the data,
  • confidentiality and integrity of the data,
  • backups,
  • physical access to the device.

Why is it successful?

The system, as all other systems, has its flaws and merits. Unique and in fact the most important is the human factor. It is the one that plays the supervisory role over smooth operation of the system, software, applications and all other elements which in fact are interesting to the customers and are assessed by them. We all know the old saying: “Fine feathers make fine birds”. It does not matter how stable the system is or how fast does it process the information. What is very important, if not the most important, is the extent to which the system is customer-friendly, and what is also crucial, what advantages can it have for its user. In this case, modularity of the system is an unquestionable asset, its ability to be modified and its constant development, that the staff of experts is taking care of, adopting the products to individual expectations and working on its reliability all the time.

 

Source: Green Economy
 

 

 

 

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