Electronic seal (e-seal) technology is maturing and may be applied to container security, according to a study by the Cargo Handling Cooperative Program (CHCP). However, e-seals would likely have to be standardized in order to be widely used, and the study did not find any one type suitable for use as a standard.
The CHCP, a partnership between the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration and private industry, compared five electronic security seals proposed for use on intermodal freight containers. The study found that the technology will continue to improve, and that it is critical to allow for growth in performance in application to the industry.
“There's an urgent need for effective technology in this area,” said United States Secretary of Transportation Norman Y Mineta.
Seals tested were All Seal by All Set Tracking, DataSeal by Hi-G-Tek, eSeal by eLogicity, MacSema + Navalink by CGM, and SmartSeal by Savi.
E-seals have container information and can show if the seal has been subjected to tampering. The tested seals can be “read” by direct contact or on a specific radio frequency, which varies with the type of seal. For a system using e-seals to be efficient, seals would likely have to be “read” by one kind of reader, using one standard radio frequency.
“For e-seals to be useful, there will have to be an accepted international standard,” said Maritime Administrator Capt William G Schubert.