Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DHL Smart Sensors

Everyone has had the experience of waiting for weeks for a parcel to arrive, and not getting any useful information from the tracking system provided by the courier. We all wish that we could track our packages as they travel from the source to our door steps. The wait is finally over,  DHL has introduced a new service where it allows customers to get real-time information about their package’s location, temperature, humidity, light exposure, pressure, shock and vibration. This is the first service of its kind to have been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used on commercial airlines. The sensors placed in the packages have been specially designed not to interfere with the airplane’s avionics. The device use both GPS and GSM radio to transmit data to DHL’s data centre.  Customers can then access information about their package through an online portal.

Customers can order the sensors to be placed in the packages. This service caters more towards customers that regularly ship urgent and valuable materials. The service has been in demand by pharmaceutical companies that have to ship medicine and antidotes for emergency use.  Hospitals and Organ banks have shown interest in the service to shipping organs.

The Sensors took three years to develop and were manufactured by a third party. During initial trials the sensors were programmed to send status updates every five minutes but that was resulting in the batteries running out too quickly, so the status reports were set to one every hour. This allows the sensors operate two weeks on batteries.

From a supply chain respective this technology gives security and enhanced visibility along the entire supply chain. A client can know in real time where their package is and what condition it is in. 

The link below is a rather humorous video introducing DLS’s Smart Sensor service 


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