Fleetwide implementation of 'smart' containers could give better visibility of cargo conditions, make customs processes smoother and create value along the whole logistics chain
Internet of things (IoT) startup Loginno is aiming to create a global internet-of-shipping container infrastructure utopia – or as the company describes it, 'Contopia,' by partnering with shipping companies to make entire fleets of boxes IoT-enabled, mining cargo and voyage data from a small device that can easily be installed on individual boxes.
The Tel Aviv-based company’s co-founder Shachar Tal explains the technology that will make this utopia possible, and how it could change operations right along the logistics chain to Maritime Digitalisation & Communications.
While using technology to track containers is not entirely new, Loginno’s approach differs as it involves converting the entire fleet of a shipping company’s containers into smart containers with an easy-to-install, low-cost device that has the same footprint as a fixed container vent.
As well as monitoring GPS sensors and temperature, Loginno incorporates vibration and acoustics-detectors that have their backgrounds in Israeli military applications, developed to sense footsteps. “We’re able to tell if the container has been lifted, or detect various behavioural profiles that could indicate mishandling,” Mr Tal explains, adding that a further technology to monitor a container’s weight is also being trialled.
But the potential implications extend far beyond monitoring individual containers, he adds. “Wherever you go, once you have a smart container you can enact smart processes and sometimes even disrupt current conduct.”
As an example, the Contopia concept replaces the need for physical seals on cargo with software certificates or cyber seals monitoring exactly when containers are opened and where. This ties in with the idea of frictionless borders, maintaining effectiveness of customs operations while making voyages between borders and checkpoints as smooth and efficient as possible by removing the need for manual checking and allowing so-called green lanes to be created for untouched containers.
Loginno’s device acts as a kind of black box with several years of data storage capacity that records exactly what has happened to a container and where, allowing insurance companies to pinpoint responsible parties much more easily. “Instead of sending investigators you just get the data, you save a lot of time and gain insight you don’t have today,” says Mr Tal.
Shipping companies will benefit by having fleetwide access to detailed data on the containers' status, and ship and terminal owners and operators will benefit by integrating information from smart boxes into their existing systems. For example, it will be easy to know at a glance which boxes require special handling or contain hazardous or fragile materials, and which boxes require storage below deck or above deck. “You can avoid mistakes and you can give personal treatment to each cargo,” says Mr Tal.
Loggino’s baseline hypothesis is that smart boxes are lower-cost than ‘dumb’ boxes, with a targeted return on investment within a year of use, Mr Tal explains. To test this, and to create a testbed for demonstrating the use cases Loginno and its partners foresee for the technology, a competition named for the Contopia concept was launched in December 2018, inviting small- and medium-sized shipping companies to submit applications to have their entire container fleet transformed into smart boxes.
Partners in the project include Lloyd’s Register, Ashdod Port Company, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, law firm Shibolet, export/import AI firm AiDock, and more. Not only will the winner benefit from enhanced visibility of their fleet of boxes, but the potential of the use cases outlined by Loginno can be demonstrated and a smoother, more cost-effective logistics chain may be established.