Air Freight Forwarder and Logistics Group Utilises RFID Technology for Reefer Movements

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SWITZERLAND –WORLDWIDE - In the first half of 2012, 20% of freight forwarder and logistics group Panalpina’s air cargo, which was moved on its Luxembourg-Huntsville route, was temperature sensitive and each temperature-controlled shipment was equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors. Demand for such shipments is rising and as a consequence, Panalpina is extending its cool chain network with this SmartView technology to ensure seamless monitoring, control and documentation and the feature is also being integrated into the company’s IT platform.

Panalpina first introduced SmartView at its air freight hub in Luxembourg in November 2009 and since has equipped six more airport facilities with the technology. The growing demand for temperature-controlled shipping and the company’s success may mean further network extensions. Panalpina is also working on a solution to make the temperature monitoring of individual shipments directly accessible to its customers. Vice President and head of air freight at Panalpina Matthias Frey said:

“We are much closer to the cargo, we control aircraft on specific routes, and we design and oversee processes on the ground. Therefore, we have the best possible control from door-to-door. The integration of the SmartView technology into our IT platforms is a crucial part of our PanCool initiative. The data is there in abundance and we have access to it via special website from around the globe. In the near future, our customers will be able to access this information directly via our track and trace tool PanTrace. This way, our customers get live end-to-end visibility for their temperature-controlled shipments.”

As part of the PanCool initiative, Panalpina has in the past few years established a door-to-door proactive monitoring, control and documentation system for temperature sensitive cargo. Panalpina’s new flagships, two wet-leased Boeing 747-8 Freighters, marking the latest investment in its mission to build a global state-of-the-art cool chain network. The Panalpina aircraft have the ability to maintain different determined temperature ranges at the same time. Since the introduction of SmartView, the company has monitored and documented over 3,000 temperature-controlled shipments.

The active RFID sensors of the SmartView system are attached to the shipments where they record the temperature every 15 minutes. For security reasons, recorded data is not immediately transmitted to the central database during flight. The radio signals may otherwise interfere with the aircraft’s technical systems. But as soon as the cargo is unloaded at the airport and in reach of a router, the data is automatically transmitted and fed into the database. The firms routers are typically located in airport transit warehouses. The same type of RFID sensors also monitor the environmental temperatures of designated cool cells within Panalpina facilities, again every quarter of an hour around the clock.

The temperature monitoring of air cargo can also be expanded to road transport in both pre-carriage and on-carriage. In road transport, Panalpina would combine active RFID technology with GPRS and GPS technology to fulfil any additional monitoring requirements, in relative humidity, shock and light exposure, air pressure or location.