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The next level of cargo care

ORBCOMM A woman at a computer screen with ReeferConnect on it
Incorporating lessons learned, industry feedback, and recent technological advancements, the latest January 2023 release of CargoCare provides users with unparalleled data, says Christian Allred, ORBCOMM'S Executive Vice President of International Sales.

Carrying perishable foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive goods to market depends on the cold chain. This complex transportation system requires a highly regulated operating environment, typified by strict commercial quality control standards and extensive compliance rules.

So, it’s not surprising that shipping lines with refrigerated containers have always been ahead of the game when it comes to embracing technology such as telematics. Berg Insight estimated that by the end of 2021, approximately 34% of the global reefer container fleet was fitted with permanent telematics. The adoption of real-time container tracking and monitoring via IoT solutions has helped improve asset movement through the supply chain and enhanced traceability. It has also simplified the task of gathering and maintaining auditable records of cargo storage conditions.

However, it is not enough to merely track, monitor and collect a large amount of data. The data also needs to be analysed, quickly refined into actionable information, filtered to prevent information overload and made accessible to decision makers. In ORBCOMM’s case, this process is managed by CargoCare, a business rules engine in ReeferConnect, ORBCOMM’s container software platform.

Automated alerts

Reaction time is vital in refrigerated shipping as temperature-related cargo spoilage is usually the result of the reefer unit breaking down or the unit being off-power for a protracted period. Seamlessly combining data from IoT devices, microcontrollers and wireless sensors, CargoCare monitors various customer-defined performance parameters, known as cargo profiles, and helps safeguard against spoilage by sending anomaly alerts to reefer technicians, who can quickly react to prevent damage to goods.

CargoCare can send the alerts to any number of stakeholders. Alerts may be of temperature deviations from the prescribed setting, prolonged off-power situations (for example during gate-in and gate-out at the terminal or loading and discharging), reefer units that stop messaging or door openings prior to the reefer arriving at its destination.

Accessible data

Integrable with third-party enterprise management systems or available through ReeferConnect, the data granularity provided by CargoCare enables administrators to interrogate and control reefer units, while at the macro level the location and status data allows them to improve reefer fleet utilisation, reduce dwell and cycle times, minimise repositioning costs and inform corrective maintenance schedules.

Access to reliable location and condition data over time also provides container shipping lines and their customers greater insight into the root causes of spoilage, empowering them to rectify systemic deficiencies in the transportation chain. Additionally, the historical data can be used to demonstrate regulatory compliance by presenting a digital audit trail.       

Customisable to suit different applications

When it was first launched, ReeferConnect provided a single CargoCare profile that users enabled or disabled for reefers that required scrutiny. Now, multiple profiles can be created and assigned to different groups of containers depending on the cargo—such as frozen or chilled— rather than having to set a unique profile for each container, saving operational managers considerable time. And the rule sets for generating individual alerts are configurable to suit each customer’s operational procedures and tolerances for the type of cargo being carried.

CargoCare is therefore inherently flexible. It can be configured to meet internal business needs and external service-level agreement obligations, and user roles and data access rights can be tailored to meet specific terms of contracts. Both ReeferConnect users and API clients can easily add multiple CargoCare profiles and assign individual or multiple reefers to a profile based on sixteen cargo-affecting elements. Examples include set point changed during a booking, excessive defrosting, controlled atmosphere excursions or late-reporting reefer. Importantly, all performance parameters, including temperature, reporting frequencies and alarm priorities, can be tailored to the specific requirements of each shipment. 

CargoCare supports many use cases and provides unique functionality. It analyses conditions on the reefer and in the booking to manage alerts in a smart way. It improves efficiency by maintaining an electronic asset log and allows users to focus on notable exception events that may result in spoilage or loss, rather than having to manually administer their entire fleet. In fact, experience shows that CargoCare can reduce messaging by up to 80%, significantly reducing the burden on both system administrators and technicians on board ships. Easing operational and administrative workloads can help to reduce the likelihood of human error and increase business efficiency.

Telematics is also increasingly being used to differentiate services to win business from competitors. For example, in addition to providing supply chain stakeholders with location and cargo condition reports and alerts, access to data enables container shipping lines to share data with shippers to help them find capacity faster and reduce customer costs while informing the development of more efficient and sustainable transport schedules. IoT creates value by tracking inventory, boosting efficiency and improving customer service. The flexibility of CargoCare, in particular, also creates new value-added service opportunities and potential revenue streams for ship operators.

Determining cargo responsibility

Insurance premiums make up a substantial proportion of shipping costs, covering risks including spoilage, cargo theft, tampering, fraud, accidents and misplaced goods. The visibility offered by IoT tracking enables stakeholders to determine cargo responsibility throughout the logistics chain, making it possible to accurately attribute liability. Shipping insurers are also evaluating how telematics data and AI technology could feed into premium calculations for reefers equipped with IoT solutions. While still in the early stages of consideration, ultimately the market is likely to adopt tracking solutions driven by shipping insurance risk ratings.

Market recognition

Since ReeferConnect came to market, it has gained considerable market share. Ten years on, CargoCare is still included for ReeferConnect subscribers. The utility of CargoCare continues to solidify ORBCOMM’s position as a premier reefer telematics provider and, at the end of 2021, Berg Insight ranked the company as the second largest container tracking player worldwide, with 267,000 units installed on containers. With its enhanced functionality, the latest evolution of the offering will play a crucial role in eliminating waste and improving cargo care through the cold chain.

ORBCOMM is  a leading provider of industrial IoT and M2M solutions, delivering remote real-time visibility, traceability, monitoring and control to multiple industries, including container logistics, the cold chain and cargo distribution across land and sea. It also the world’s largest provider of maritime AIS data, tracking vessel locations across the globe.