Though radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology would seem a natural choice for tracking intermodal containers as they move through their multi-stage journey, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. What's standing in the way is a lack of data-collection infrastructure for tracking ocean containers once they leave ports and head out over the road to their destinations.
Horizon Services Group (HSG), the technology subsidiary of container shipping and logistics specialist Horizon Lines, aims to change all that. Working with state and federal transportation officials, HSG is looking at using RFID reader infrastructure that's already in place on highways to form the backbone of a real-time intermodal container tracking system across the United States, said Duncan Wright, HSG's director of business development, during a presentation at this year's RFID World conference.
When matched with event management systems, the RFID network could provide detailed shipment information throughout a container's transit, from origin loading facility through to final destination. "This will be a significant step in solving the intermodal 'black hole,'"Wright said. "We could track assets in real time, reduce unnecessary repositioning of containers, address congestion issues, improve asset utilization, and last, but certainly not least, increase supply chain security for everyone's benefit."