As one indicator of the growth of technology in the intermodal market segment, Swift Transportation announced it would deploy I.D. Systems’ VeriWise management system on its domestic intermodal containers. The contract is valued at about $3.1 million over five years.
The VeriWise system includes motion detection to identify the start and end of each drive segment, a cargo sensor that monitors the full length of a container to determine its load status, and power management technology for long battery life.
“(VeriWise) gives us real-time visibility of that critical last mile,” says Richard Stocking, president of Phoenix-based Swift. “It tells us when and where containers are taking longer than expected to unload, and enables us to quickly pinpoint empty containers. With this information, we can turn containers around quicker, minimize deadheading, reduce chassis rental costs and maximize the revenue generated by each container.”
“This is proving very popular among our customer base.”
– Charlie Cahill, chief executive officer, Blue Tree Systems
Last year, SkyBitz saw revenue grow by a record 22 percent and new unit shipments increase by 65 percent. In March, the company announced a new product tailored to the intermodal industry. The Galaxy Series is designed to provide two-way global tracking and monitoring of assets from arrival to departure and all events occurring in between.
Keeping it cold by rail
Temperature management is another factor for technology used for intermodal shipments, both domestically and globally.
In late 2010, C.R. England began an initiative called TempStack that double-stacks specially designed high-volume reefer containers on railroad flatcars. By using StarTrak technology, the company can provide quality assurance through two-way communications. With StarTrak, management can do everything to a unit that they could do in person, from adjusting settings to checking fuel levels and temperature.
Central Refrigerated Service began using the Qualcomm T2 untethered trailer tracking system in November 2009. Its primary goal was to reduce cargo claims by tracking load temperatures through integration with its back-office dispatch system. The following year, cargo claims dropped by 50 percent, says Allen Lowry, director of safety for the Salt Lake City-based fleet.
For intermodal shipments, Central can monitor reefer units on railcars remotely and respond to units that need urgent attention. This year, the company equipped 500 trailers with Qualcomm’s latest 210 system that was released in January. The 210 has a built-in solar panel to extend battery life and costs less than the T2 system, says Jim Griswold, senior product manager for Qualcomm Enterprise Services.
Blue Tree Systems’ R:Com technology allows the carrier to download reefer data and temperatures to provide proof of transit temperatures to a customer by e-mail – all while the trailer or container is at the customer’s loading dock. Blue Tree’s management system utilizes GSM cellular technology and reports every 5 minutes when tethered and every 12 hours when untethered.
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