Erich H. Franke
When it comes to critical transportation tasks, such as in chemical and nuclear freight, standard telemetric supervision systems generally do not provide a sufficient level of reliability and integrity.
The key is the fully automated routing of information on a mobile multi-mode platform. Long-range communication (satellite and land-based mobile communication) is combined with short-range-radio technology. The truck and the trailer, or the different cars of a freight train, are linked through encrypted and protected short-range radios that can be individually addressed and enumerated. Unlike traditional RFID technology, this function will provide comprehensive, automatic freight protection inside containers and trailers.
To realise this, a flexible, mobile, multi-mode platform is needed. A patented solution extends the sensor capability of the system. More radio-attached sensors can be added to fulfil customer needs. Moreover, a specifically designed radio protocol is used to address the important issue of power consumption. Since the amount of data conveyed is very low, low-bandwidth links can be used at relatively low cost. Special focus is given to the intermodal transportation of swap bodies and containers: Apart from traditional truck trailers, these conveyers generally lack a power source.
The main target for the multi-mode platform is the transportation business, particularly in protecting the transport of any manner of critical freight, from chemical and nuclear to valuable goods (tobacco, pharmaceuticals).
With the improved redundancy, the solutions targeted are those that require a higher level of security and integrity than traditional telematic systems. The benefit is the reduction in freight insurance cost and risk. The return on investment for the customer depends strongly on how the system is used. As a rule, customers are interested if the break-even point is within 1.5 years. This will first be achieved in critical transportation tasks. In the long run, it will become feasible for more common transportation tasks.