TrackerSense Assigns Eyes and Ears to Parcels

Offering single-use or reusable trackers, a U.K. startup has attracted several couriers and postal agencies during its first six months.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Customers pay a flat fee $48.15 (£34.20) per unit for the Lite 1 or Ultra 1 devices. The Lite 365 and Ultra 365 devices are leased monthly for $8.12 (£5.77) or $13.51 (£9.60), respectively.

Rather than assigning trackers to specific parcels, some of Soutter's early customers—including Mark 3 International and ProFS, an e-commerce fulfillment services company that operates globally—place them inside containers of parcels, known as consoles. This enables them to track the containers' movements and the environment conditions to which they are exposed.

Other customers, including AmWorld, an international courier and logistics services firm, provide the trackers as a value-added service to their customers. AmWorld, Soutter explains, "specializes in shipping music paraphernalia, and they're using the trackers to ensure that, say, a vintage record is shipped safely" and without being exposed to extreme temperatures or shock.

PostNL, the Netherlands' national postal service, is using TrackerSense devices to perform quality-of-service checks by attaching trackers to random parcels in order to determine how long it takes for a shipment to reach its destination, and to monitor environmental conditions during transit. The devices are collected and reused continuously.

This winter, Canada Post has been testing TrackerSense devices, but due to the extremely low temperatures to which they are exposed in transit, Soutter explains, he is working with Aeris to designed a new, more rugged version of the tracker that can withstand extreme cold.

TrackerSense devices are set, by default, to report location once an hour, and the sensors record environmental conditions once every five minutes. But the data they collect, along with location information, is transmitted only if the device falls outside parameters set by the customer. TrackerSense's customers manage the devices via a cloud-based management platform.

While located outdoors or in transit, Soutter says, the devices can generally be pinpointed via GPS, which provides an accuracy of plus or minus 20 meters (66 feet). When the devices are inside a depot or some other building that interferes with the GPS signal, the devices' location is determined via triangulation of three or more nearby cell towers, thereby providing roughly 500 meters (1,640 feet) of accuracy.

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