As carriers and distributors, especially those handling truckloads of high value refrigerated and frozen freight, seek a competitive advantage in an overcrowded market, many are looking to trailer tracking and cargo temperature monitoring to put a wedge between their business and others who want that business. Technology providers have begun to realize that the multi-billion truckload refrigerated market needs services to track and report equipment and load status.
One recent entry to the tracking market is FreshTrak Inc of Boynton Beach, Florida. The system offers real-time location and temperature information to shippers, carriers, and receivers throughout most of North America, helping to ensure that loads arrive on time and in proper condition. It uses a global positioning system receiver for vehicle location and a programmable temperature probe for constant cargo monitoring. Information flow to the FreshTrak system is two-way, using a wireless data link across a cellular network. Access to information by all parties involved in a transportation transaction is provided across the Internet from a central fleet tracking information center.
Tracking and temperature monitoring technology provides shippers, carriers, and receivers precise location and load condition data. That information is available for a modest monthly fee, a fee that has the potential to save substantial sums on cargo claims for carriers and to extend shelf life for receivers, says Wayne DuBois, founder and chairman of FreshTrak.
Prior to his involvement with FreshTrak, DuBois spent 45 years as a produce grower and fleet operator. Monitoring produce in transit gives retailers a better opportunity to control inventory, because they know load conditions before arrival, he says. This allows distributors to rotate warehouse stock according to condition, in addition to arrival date. It also allows buyers to reroute inbound loads and seek backup shipments if a load suffers a refrigeration problem in transit, he says. In addition to produce, FreshTrak has applications for meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and a wide range of other temperature sensitive goods, the company says.
The system uses Cellemetry, an extensive cellular control channel data network for nationwide coverage. Axiom Navigation Inc acts as a technology partner to FreshTrak in developing hardware and the server infrastructure for the Internet connections to technical specifications and operational requirements set by FreshTrak. In particular, the system uses Axiom's AVL GPS receiver. The Internet data center is capable of providing vehicle information to an almost unlimited number of users.
The system is trailer-mounted, providing temperature monitoring even when a load is parked awaiting dispatch, or at a receiver waiting to unload. It uses an FT 200 12-channel global positioning receiver, microprocessor control module, and data link receiver/transmitter. The temperature probe feeds data to the control module at programmed intervals, usually one, two, or three hours a part, depending on user requirements. If load temperature is outside programmed parameters, the system sends an alert by e-mail, digital pager, or text-enabled cell phone. The Cellemetry cell phone control channel data network provides coverage throughout the US and most of Canada and Mexico.
The two-way data network allows trailers to be interrogated remotely, as well as allowing them to send data automatically as programmed. An entire trip log, including a temperature graph and complete location data can be downloaded from the Internet at any time. The system provides for easy addition or deletion of loads, and access to load information throughout a delivery.
Founded in 2001 by a team of farming and agribusiness veterans, FreshTrak says it combines advanced tracking and monitoring technology with an understanding of what the produce industry, including motor carriers, needs to ensure efficient delivery and distribution. The company introduced its first product in 2002. For more information, visit the FreshTrak web site at www.freshtrak.com.