Container Tracking Critical for Security, But...

...Necessary technologies will not see broad deployment until latter half of decade, ABI predicts

...Necessary technologies will not see broad deployment until latter half of decade, ABI predicts

Oyster Bay, NY  August 17, 2004  Container tracking is a critical component of supply chain security, but the technologies necessary to track large numbers of containers as they pass through the supply chain will not see wide deployment until the latter part of this decade, according to a new report from technology consulting firm ABI Research.

The new report, "Container Security and Tracking", examines and evaluates evolving solutions and technologies for global electronic container tracking, including radio frequency identification (RFID), GPS, cellular, satellite, Ultra Wideband, Bluetooth, barcode and optical character recognition.

More than 20 million freight containers are currently circulating the world, with about 7 million of them passing through U.S. ports every year. Yet surprisingly only about 2 percent of these containers are physically inspected. Security experts have warned of doomsday scenarios involving unchecked containers that may harbor terrorists, explosives or other hazardous materials.

The good news, ABI reports, is that enhanced container security methods  based on such technologies as RFID, cellular and satellite communications  are on the way. These technologies also promise substantial commercial benefits from a supply chain and enterprise resource planning (ERP) perspective. Depending on the technology and application, electronic tracking not only can log a container's movements around the world (sometimes in real-time), but can also alert administrators that, for instance, a container was opened without authorization.

ABI Research analyst David Schrier cautioned that deployment of these technologies for commercial cargo containers will not occur overnight. The overall number of commercial containers utilizing an electronic tracking solution will remain in the single digits until the latter part of this decade, Schrier said. "Two pivotal drivers towards mass-market adoption of electronic container tracking will be mandates to suppliers by the U.S. Department of Defense and Wal-Mart to use RFID in pallet-level supply chain solutions," he noted.

Savi Technology, long a dominant player in U.S. Department of Defense asset tracking projects, is best positioned to be the market leader in container tracking worldwide, according to ABI. Savi already operates over 1,400 RFID network checkpoints worldwide for the U.S. military and is preparing to deploy its network commercially.

For more information on solutions for supply chain security, see "Building the Secure Supply Chain," the Net Best Thing article in the June/July 2003 issue of iSource Business.