Smart Labels

DB Schenker has adopted ‘smart label’ stickers, incorporating GPS tracking devices thin enough to be used for pallets, gaylords, and even individual cartons – but success hinges on industry-wide adoption, experts say.

Developed by Sensos, a division of Sony Semiconductors, the trackers with their batteries are just millimetres thick and small enough not to be distinguishable from a conventional label, said DB Schenker. They can alert the customer if their package is tampered with during transport.

David Pollender, product owner business development IoT, at DB Schenker, said: “Tracking technology now fits into a millimetre-thin sticker.”

But the emerging sector is contingent on mass-adoption, as well as collaboration between providers, Reinier Danckaarts, head of development and innovation at Kuehne+Nagel, which offers similar technology, told The Loadstar late last year.

“If freight forwarders were to adopt this [label tracking], it will really have some power,” he said.

Mr Danckaarts said since the trackers were disposable, manufacturing needed to scale up dramatically to bring down costs.

“It’s all about size. We need to print millions, and then the price comes to below a dollar… less than 50 cents in a couple of years.

Further, it is not only the development of the labels themselves, but also the technology to print them that must develop in parallel, he added. “We are calling on the industry to say ‘let’s get this started’. It could change the industry.”

The ability to track individual parcels to such a high degree of accuracy will sidestep disputes by not relying on the diligence of carriers to keep location data up to date. But the additional visibility afforded by the trackers will empower customers to hold carriers and freight forwarders to a higher standard, explained Aviv Casto, CEO of Sensos.

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