Mark-It Services
GPS Container Tracking
World Cargo News – February 2008 - “Mark-It Goes Wireless”

World Cargo News Februray 2008 - Mark-It Goes Wireless Leading US reefer monitoring service provider Mark-It Services (MIS) has launched a wireless asset monitoring (WAM) solution for reefer containers called WAM-D. MIS has been providing reefer monitoring services in the US since 1989 and serves all major shipping lines and intermodal providers there, monitoring over 75,000 containers per month.

The new WAM-D solution enables wireless monitoring and control through a hardware and software platform that is available to reefer owners through MISís core service offerings and to ports and intermodal terminals as a standalone system. It is based around a proprietary data acquisition device, effectively an active RFID tag with a full two-way radio, that is connected to the reefer unit data port. The unit is powered by a replaceable longlife battery so it can operate independently of the reefer container itself. The tags are read in the yard by a single reader node that can pick up tags in a 200-400m radius. Data is then sent from the reader node to a server in the control room.

With WAM-D terminals, reefer service providers can monitor information such as container number, setpoint and status and perform pre-trip inspections (PTIs) remotely. A big advantage of the system is that marine terminals can purchase the hardware and the licence for the software from MIS without the actual container owner needing to be involved. By attaching the WAM-D devices while containers are in the terminal, port operators can take greater control of the reefer monitoring process and automate many existing manual procedures.

With the WAM-D software, terminals can see the full range of monitoring information, including status and alerts, displayed graphically and generate reports to meet information requirements. They can also download a container’s full data record for future reference should any issue of liability arise.

Through integration with the core TOS application the container ID can be linked to position information to enable any problem containers to be quickly identified on the terminal. Alarms can be generated when containers enter the terminal and are not fitted with a WAM-D device within a certain timeframe or when a container is disconnected from a WAM-D without being gated-out by the TOS.

MIS is also marketing the system to reefer owners, who can improve their whole asset management system by attaching the WAM-D devices to reefers permanently. Real time status information can be integrated into existing management applications and notification systems to improve the asset cycle and protection for refrigerated cargo. Significant time can be saved by performing procedures such as PTIs across all the containers in a reefer stack simultaneously.

The system infrastructure is designed to keep the set up cost low and to allow a terminal operator to implement WAM-D without needing to involve the existing wireless LAN provider. The cost of each WAM-D device itself is comparable to an active RFID tag and the reader node costs less than a typical 802.11 access point. To carry data back to the control room, MIS installs a point-to-point WiFi with a range of up to three miles. Terminals could use an existing 802.11 network, but MIS has found most customers prefer a separate link to avoid overloading or coverage issues as well as needing to involve the original wireless provider.

As a “localised” asset management system, WAM-D does not require the user to subscribe to any public communication or satellite networks and pay the associated user fees. For customers who require global monitoring integrated with tracking, MIS is developing a variant with GPRS.
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