A new internet of things solution is aiming to take parcel tracking to the next level, with the ability to monitor everything from exact location to the condition of a package in real time.
Designed for tracking high-value, fragile and time or temperature sensitive packages the ParceLive device and monitoring system is a postcard-sized device that is put into a parcel at the point of distribution. As well as GPS tracking it is able to monitor key factors such as temperature and humidity. An accelerometer identifies if it has been dropped and a light detection system tells the monitoring system when the parcel has been opened.
The company behind the solution, Hanhaa, has announced a strategic funding round, led by European packaging materials giant BillerudKorsnäs AB, which will help the company expand its team and its efforts to bring the new service to market.
The product has already undergone a series of pilots, according to Hanhaa, and is now being adopted by logistics specialists including Sigma Retail Solutions, which has the likes of Boots and Asda amongst its retail clients, and Avarto Bertelsmann.
“We are excited to be involved in the ParceLive rollout,” said Andrew Gaunt, supply chain manager at Sigma Retail Solutions. “This not only allows Sigma to track essential deliveries to tight project timescales but also improves client confidence with regular updates on location and the condition of parcels,” he said.
The ParceLive service is a subscription model where devices are rented with responsibility for the device, including return, maintenance and charging handled by Hanhaa.
The first wave of the product’s rollout, which will launch at the end of this month, will see 500 ParceLive devices tracking real parcels on their journeys across the world. Hanhaa says it plans to produce 20,000 units for general availability by the middle of this year.
“With global parcel shipping volume forecast to grow by 20% by 2018, and an increasing reliance on third-party logistics providers, businesses are under increasing pressure to improve the delivery process,” said Azhar Hussain, founder and CEO, Hanhaa.
“We are delighted to see ParceLive entering the retail distribution networks of some of the world’s leading brands and logistics service providers. We are very confident that these relationships will grow exponentially when they see how ParceLive transforms their business,” he said.
How ParceLive works
Before shipment, the sender scans the unique code on the ParceLive device linking it to the order and places it inside the parcel where stays for the duration of its trip. From this point on the parcel is “live”, giving sender and receiver a unique insight into the parcel’s location, condition and security.
Alerts are sent should something happen to the parcel, such as the time and location of a security breach. Once at its destination the receiver removes the device from the parcel and pushes a button to display a return address on ParceLive’s e-ink screen. The device is then free-posted back without the need for a stamp or envelope.
Via six sensors, ParceLive monitors a range of parcel conditions in real-time:
- Real-time GPS tracking of the parcel’s current location, accurate to street level on Google maps.
- For products that must be kept cool or warm, ParceLive monitors the parcel temperature from -20°C to +60°C (-4°F to +140°F).
- For products that must be kept dry, ParceLive monitors the humidity levels in the parcel to detect when and where contents have been exposed to water.
- For fragile items, ParceLive immediately detects when and where a package has been dropped or handled roughly.
- For products that must be kept vertical, ParceLive can detect when and where a parcel has been tilted beyond a pre-set angle
- To ensure that a package has not been opened, ParceLive detects when and where the contents of a parcel have been exposed to light.
ParceLive users can choose to be alerted based on certain changes in any of these conditions. For example, an alert can be triggered if a parcel remains in one location for too long, if the temperature exceeds a certain level, or once it arrives within a certain distance from its destination.
Image credit: Hanhaa