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Smart airline container self-monitors its environment

By Tim Sandle     Sep 1, 2017 in Technology
As part of the digital transformation of the air freight sector, some carriers have begun to use 'smart crates'. These are freight shipping containers that are capable of self-monitoring.
The same transportation of many materials relies upon the careful monitoring of the environment. Often this is achieved externally, through the use of alarms or by having people carry out periodic checks for parameters like temperature and humidity. External fluctuations do not necessarily indicate what is happening to a precious cargo inside a crate. In addition, crates do not, until now, have the capability of correcting the environmental conditions. Such variations can have greater impact in flight since the holds of aircraft cannot be accessed by personnel in-flight.
To address this, researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have devised a 'smart craft' for aircraft transportation. The idea for this, according to Fraunhofer President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, comes from the appreciation that the digital economy relies on companies being able to exchange data securely and link it efficiently. A company that has placed an important cargo in the hands of an airline wants to know that the cargo has been flown as required, as does the customer.
The academic expands on what he terms the 'Industrial Data Space'. This new aspect of the digital transformation of the supply chain is "opening up smart services and new and innovative business models and processes. Now we can continuously monitor goods in transit, for instance, share production facilities, and even connect sensitive medical data to make more effective use of it."
With this the aim is for data exchange to be made secure across the entire data supply chain, that is from data creation to data capture to data usage.
The most important feature of the containers is temperature control. Airlines cannot keep their aircraft at 0.5 degrees; by having temperature regulated containers, that can adapt the internal temperature to cope with changing environments, then many perishable goods can be successfully transported. These devices represent a step-forwards for airlines and supply chains in their digital transformation initiatives.
More about air freight, smart crates, Logistics, Supply chain
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