DHL Offers Real-Time Tracking Technology
Published: February 6th, 2012
The modularly designed DHL Smart Sentry device is customizable for monitoring conditions including pressure, shock, and humidity.
DHL has launched DHL Smart Sentry for real-time tracking of data for high-value cargo. The multi-mode wireless device monitors temperature, pressure, humidity, vibration, speed, shock, light, and GPS location via global cellular network
The top five U.S.-based global airlines including Southwest Airlines Cargo and American Airlines Cargo have accepted the device after FAA approval was earned through a long certification process, says Matt Groppe, director, global sales, DHL Global Same Day.
“We had to work closely with the airlines while they developed test protocols to make sure the device is safe for the traveling public. The airlines had to make it a priority and take aircraft out of service to get the testing data. We had to wait on the potential for changes in lithium battery legislation to ensure the devices are below the threshold of concern for battery configuration and lithium content.
“With acceptance of the device by some of the larger airlines, we now have the market coverage where we can start talking to customers. We are testing and certifying it with other carriers and regulatory authorities in other regions,” he adds.
The monitoring solution is offered through DHL Global Same Day, the DHL Express division that provides on-demand and expedited door-to-door delivery. Among the specialized services offered in the white glove service, cargo is consigned to the next flight out rather than consolidating shipments to DHL gateways. Shipments are recovered from one airline and transferred to another for the sake of speed, as clients receive timely information if flights are delayed.
In the Smart Sentry service, a DHL Global Same Day analytics team monitors shipments’ status 24/7. Clients can track the condition of cargo on demand via a secure web portal, or set up min/max ranges for notification only if thresholds are on verge of being exceeded.
“We develop our SOPs around the customer’s requirements to react to instances based on the data we receive,” says Gail Triplett, regional sales manager, DHL Global Same Day.
The telemetry device controls its functions to comply with FAA regulations and enable the use of the wireless system in air courier delivery service. Wireless radio transmission is shut down without human intervention, the device uses minimal power, and features redundant modes of aircraft detection.
“In many cases our customers already have their own packaging. We are in discussions with some customers to secure Smart Sentry as part of their package. The device is also meant to be an add-on for someone just looking for location capability,” Triplett says.
DHL developed the service through its DHL Innovation Center which evaluates the use of emerging technologies for supporting DHL Group business requirements, in cooperation with DHL company Agheera GmbH, which focuses on technology for supply-chain visibility.
The logistics provider has recognized OnAsset Intelligence Inc. for the development of the Sentry FlightSafe device, and worked jointly with OnAsset Intelligence to get the devices accepted by airlines.
Groppe says Smart Sentry is now being tested for use by other DHL divisions including in ocean freight
Smart Sentry’s data from continuous monitoring is automatically transmitted when the aircraft has landed with no need to open the box.
“In today’s current environment, you can only see the shipment history and react to packaging in distress only after the fact. (Additionally), some of our customers are looking to get above and beyond temperature monitoring. They want to track humidity or how often was the package opened for better control while in transit,” Triplett says.
Shippers faced major delays after the 2010 volcano eruption in Iceland that enormously disrupted air travel in all Europe over a week long period.
“Our customers in the life sciences sector want control when unpredictable events occur. They want to know where the shipments are and what is necessary to get to the destination in stable condition. Smart Sentry provides the real-time window on geographic location to predict what they can do in transit to avoid the product or specimen from going bad,” she adds.