Intellect Protects Cold Chain in Transit

Wireless intelligence solutions monitor the cold chain and reduce risks in transit—by land, sea, and air.

With millions of research dollars at stake, the transportation of sensitive pharmaceuticals and medical products is serious business. OnAsset Intelligence Inc. (Irving, TX) provides platforms that enable companies to create and view a transparent supply chain. To mitigate cold-chain risks, the company provides solutions to monitor temperature-controlled medical products. The company, which is led by Adam Crossno, president and CEO, provides remote monitoring and freight intelligence solutions, specializing in covert, highly intelligent applications for air freight, trucking and transportation, and intermodal and ocean freight.

“The biggest challenge in pharmaceuticals is the cold chain,” says Nikki Cuban, VP, marketing and business development, OnAsset Intelligence. “We monitor for condition and chain of custody in real-time.”

The one area in pharmaceuticals where OnAsset has seen particular interest is in the area of transporting products for clinical trials. Only small batches of a new drug are made during a clinical trial and if the drug or product goes out of spec or becomes stuck in customs, this can result in millions of lost research dollars. One of the biggest transportation challenges has been in the area of air freight.

Many high-value critical shipments are shipped via air because they are very time sensitive. Cuban says a major challenge has been monitoring and mitigating challenges that happen within the supply chain in real-time, such as temperature excursion, humidity, or impact from a G-force or a heavy shock that can lead to breakage.

Intelligence in Transit
OnAsset’s SENTRY is an advanced, self-contained, self-powered wireless telemetry device for GPS tracking, remote sensing and monitoring of fixed and mobile assets. The modular design of the SENTRY unit has been created to enable rapid customization to meet the toughest needs of any machine-to-machine application. Customers are able to choose from an array of sensors to configure the exact device requirements needed. In addition, OnAsset provides a variety of accessory kits including tamper loops and external temperature probes. The SENTRY is capable of single or multi-mode radio communications that include GSM/GPRS, CDMA, Iridium Satelllite, and Zigbee.

In September 2010, OnAsset Intelligence was awarded a U.S. patent for its flagship device called SENTRY FlightSafe, which is a patented technology for onboard device intelligence in air-freight deployment. Belonging to the OnAsset SENTRY product family, FlightSafe is an intelligent wireless GSM device equipped with a full sensor array to address the most demanding needs for cold chain monitoring, chain-of-custody management, and package integrity. This product is a key component to the company’s SENTRY product portfolio and a required feature for customers who track the integrity of their high-value freight over national and international trade lanes.

SENTRY FlightSafe is the M2M industry’s first wireless device with multi-mode and redundant means for aircraft detection.  FlightSafe is the only unit with more than three unique methods available to guarantee the shut-down of its wide-area radio transmitters during a flight making it the first M2M device safe for air travel via commercial airlines. With FlightSafe, temperature-sensitive, high-value packages can be shipped with constant monitoring of condition and chain of custody. 

The FlightSafe technology solves a wide variety of technical challenges that specifically impact the ability to use wireless devices during air travel. Challenges overcome by FlightSafe include: no human intervention needed to suppress radio transmission; minimal power drain during flight; multiple, redundant modes of aircraft detection; and always-on data logging during flight for multi-use, multi-purpose monitoring application requirements. FAA guidelines for autonomous devices that meet regulations must include redundant modes of aircraft detection and be able to engage in radio suppression without human intervention.

The technical capability of OnAsset’s SENTRY FlightSafe is compliant with these FAA guidelines. In January of 2009, OnAsset kicked off the FlightSafe program to support major commercial airlines in their processes to accept SENTRY devices for use with high value air-freight shipments. Among the airlines now in the program, early participants include commercial airlines as well as express delivery carriers.

In December 2009, OnAsset’s President and CEO Adam Crossno received top honors from Deutsche Post DHL when he was recognized at the DHL Innovation Award Ceremony in Bonn for the development of SENTRY FlightSafe. Named as “Most Innovative Junior Scientist,” the aim of the award is to recognize the achievements of a dedicated expert who has developed integrated solutions to track and monitor cargo in a real-time environment. The DHL Innovation Center highlighted that no other technology to date guarantees a complete surveillance of air cargo as it is transported. According to Mr. Crossno, the goal was to create a premium product with high sensing capabilities to ensure temperature and product quality during transit from the point of origin to final destination.

Technology in the Works
The company is also introducing newer technology, such as its next-generation Quantum Fingerprint technology, which is slated to launch in 2011. Quantum Fingerprint technology allows a sensor to sense any environmental change within a container. This sensor is the only sensor available that can sample the environment in milliseconds on a parts-pertrillion basis and that can perform this unique capability at a distance of up to 10 meters. For the world cargo business, this is a major break through, making it possible to validate the load integrity throughout the entire container with one sensor.

In March 2010, OnAsset Intelligence acquired exclusive marketing and distribution rights to the Quantum Fingerprint Sensor Technology from United States Semiconductor Corp. (Independence, MO)  and NxGen Electronics Inc. (San Diego, CA) for the consumer, commercial, and industrial markets. This technology enables environmental sensing of explosives, chemical and biological agents, biological cargo, and illegal drugs. Combined with OnAsset’s wireless SENTRY device used for monitoring and securing freight for intermodal, ocean, and air cargo shipments, customers of OnAsset will be able to monitor cargo location and security as well as whether any dangerous, illegal, or possibly hazardous materials have been placed inside the container with their cargo.

“Maintaining cargo security as shipping containers move between countries is critically important to the world economy,” Crossno says. “During this time when security concerns are at an all-time high, deploying a sensor that determines whether the container space has been in contact with an illegal or dangerous substance provides a new, unprecedented level of awareness.”

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