Friday 19th Jan, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Information Technology

Photo: Maersk Line
Photo: Maersk Line

MAERSK Line’s My Therese Blank spoke to Daily Cargo News about the introduction of the company’s Remote Container Management (RCM) in Australia and the insights customers are getting about their supply chains.

As sales and country manager for Maersk Line locally, Ms Blank understands well the needs of customers transporting fresh and sensitive cargo from Australia often over long distances to reach export markets.

“The early feedback we have from local customers is very positive, with the general consensus that RCM introduces much-needed data transparency and peace of mind knowing that perishable products, such as meat, fruits and vegetables, are delivered in optimal condition,” said Ms Blank.

Maersk Line describes RCM as “unique”, a simple M2M technology consisting of a GPS, a modem and a SIM card has been installed on all 270,000 of Maersk’s refrigerated (reefer) containers.

The RCM technology enables location, temperature, humidity and power status readings to be continuously collected and stored. That information then reaches customers and RCM global support teams via satellite transmitters on 400 of Maersk Line’s owned and chartered ships.

“RCM was launched in Q3 2017 and has been well received by Australian reefer shippers,” said Ms Blank.

“We were very pleased with the ‘Highly Commended’ recognition we received at the recent Australian Shipping and Maritime Industry Awards; it is a great acknowledgement of the industry game changer that is RCM.”

The technology is well suited for traditional reefer commodities like agriculture, however the company also expects RCM will open doors for new opportunities in sectors like pharmaceuticals.

“Companies with less robust, high value cargo have in some cases been reluctant to deploy sea freight. With RCM, we can now start a dialogue with those customers on how they can better harvest the important economic and environmental benefits of sea transport without compromising on product safety requirements,” said Ms Blank.

The development of smart assets and digital supply chain integration holds a high priority for Maersk Line. Given it’s early days for RCM, the company says it will improve and expand on the value of RCM as it receives feedback and learns more from its customers.

With clarity about the location and condition of the cargo at all times, not just during the ocean transport but throughout the journey of the container, RCM will help identify problem areas in customers’ supply chains and ways to improve them.

“For example, if a customer’s reefer container is not being pre-cooled as agreed at the farm, the customer can easily see this in the temperature graph on their screen and can contact or follow up with the supplier and the farm.

“Likewise, if a truck driver or port worker turns off the power to the reefer, this will be visible,” said Ms Blank.

Shippers can also respond if the container settings are incorrect or malfunctioning, due to human error or equipment failure.

“Data from the first months of 2017 showed more than 200 cases where our RCM technology could uncover substantial deviations and thereby avoid potential lost cargo.”

For any landside movements, whether carried by Maersk Line or a third party transport provider, the exact GPS location and cargo condition of an RCM smart container will continue to be tracked and reported via GSM network coverage anywhere in the world.

“The primary benefit of a ‘smart container’ fitted with RCM technology lies in the real-time data recording throughout the entire journey of the container, no matter the location,” said Ms Blank.

“Some 30% of the food produced by the world is lost each year, and smart reefers have a part to play in tackling this, improving cold chain stability and reliability in a globalising food market,” said Ms Blank.

“Particularly for our customers with very sensitive, higher value refrigerated cargo, RCM significantly raises the total value proposition of refrigerated container trade.”

From the print edition December 14, 2017

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