Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Descartes uses Bluetooth to help Swissport track cargo

Steve Rogerson
March 10, 2020



Swissport is working with Unilode and Descartes to track and monitor unit load devices (ULDs) using Bluetooth technology at its cargo warehouses. The cargo handling division will equip its 115 cargo warehouses with tracking sensors during 2020.
 
During 2020, Swissport will rig its cargo warehouses with Bluetooth Low Energy readers supplied by Swiss firm Unilode and Canadian company Descartes. The technology will increase transparency for Swissport customers using digitally tagged ULDs. Geolocation of ULDs enables real-time tracking and inventory control, so airlines and freight companies can plan the distribution of their vast ULD fleets more efficiently and cost effectively.
 
“Our cooperation with Unilode and Descartes and the introduction of global ULD tracking at our cargo warehouses create added value for our customers and drive the digital transformation of the cargo supply chain and the industry," said Hendrik Leyssens, Swissport’s vice president of global cargo operations.
 
Bluetooth-enabled, Descartes Core ULD tracking helps air carriers and their partners automate freight tracking, increase operating efficiencies and improve asset management by providing real-time visibility of air shipments bundled into a single ULD container or pallet. Shipments can be tracked whether in the air or on the ground via the Descartes Core BLE network.
 
In addition to location, other sensor-based information such as precise temperature, movement (for example shock, acceleration and orientation) and humidity can be monitored. Tags that support smoke and fire detection, light sensing, and doorway ingress and egress are also in development.
 
These data, combined with forecasting of asset location requirements, help carriers reduce ULD fleet losses, better match capacity with ULD inventory, and reduce the unnecessary costs associated with misplaced equipment or the requirement to lease additional ULDs.
 
“We’re pleased to work with Swissport to increase the value of its warehouse network and the overall reach of BLE-enabled tracking locations worldwide,” said Scott Sangster, vice president at Descartes. “Descartes is dedicated to delivering proven innovations in IoT and real-time network technology that help make the movement of air cargo smarter and more efficient.”
 
In 2019, Swissport International provided airport ground services for some 265 million airline passengers and handled roughly 4.6 million tons of air freight in 115 cargo warehouses worldwide. Its 64,000 employees achieved consolidated operating revenue of €2.99bn in 2018. At the end of December 2019, Swissport was active at 300 airports in 47 countries on six continents. Major cargo expansion projects are underway in Frankfurt and Melbourne, both due to open in the third quarter of 2020. Further locations in Australia will be announced soon.
 
Descartes has more than 220,000 connected parties using its cloud-based services. Its customers use its modular, software-as-a-service to route, schedule, track and measure delivery resources; plan, allocate and execute shipments; rate, audit and pay transportation invoices; access global trade data; file customs and security documents for imports and exports; and complete numerous other logistics processes. Its headquarters are in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and it has offices and partners around the world.
 
Descartes has acquired Peoplevox, a provider of cloud-based ecommerce warehouse management products. Headquartered in the UK, Peoplevox serves direct-to-consumer ecommerce customers around the world. Its web-based warehouse management and ecommerce fulfilment products help users seamlessly connect to web shop front ends, translate order information into a mobile-driven pick-and-pack process within the warehouse, and then feed parcel delivery systems for shipment execution.