Smart airline freight containers and Industrial Data Space
A container that can book its own flights when a connection is missed or delayed
All the efficiency and careful handling on the ground won’t help perishable goods arrive in their best condition if not looked after and maintained when flown on an aircraft.
Just as there is Business and First Class seats for human passengers, ideally there would be an upgrade available to help this type of freight arrive in its best shape. Researchers at German application-oriented research organisation Fraunhofer have had a few ideas in this area.
Industrial Data Space
What they’ve come up with, in essence, is a smart airfreight container. It’s a small part of a concept outlined by Fraunhofer President Professor Reimund Neugebauer, called Industrial Data Space.
“The Industrial Data Space is opening up smart services and new and innovative business models and processes. Now we can continuously monitor goods in transit, for instance, share production facilities, and even connect sensitive medical data to make more effective use of it.”
Fraunhofer’s stated aim for Industrial Data Space is “to create a protected data space in which companies can share information using standardised, secure interfaces while at the same time retaining full sovereignty over their proprietary data.”
What could a smart airline freight container do?
Fraunhofer has conceived around 70 applications in which the ideas of Industrial Data Space are applied to the supply chain, one of which is the smart airline freight containers. Sensors in the container could monitor:
- Control and maintain the correct temperature(s) within the container
- Also humidity, shock, vibration, light, air pressure, acoustic waves, or magnetic fields
- Monitor exactly where a container is in the transport process
Additionally, the containers could ‘look after themselves’ in instances of supply chain interruptions and delays. Smart, connected airfreight containers could, for example:
- Have the ability to book its own flights should it not make a connecting flight
- Advise all concerned parties in real-time of any delays or issues during transport
An Australian perspective
Ian Christensen, the Managing Director of the iMOVE CRC, said “This German innovation is part of a wider trend that is affecting freight of time- and condition-sensitive products worldwide.”
“There are many Australian producers of fresh food who know they could achieve substantial growth in sales if they could ensure that their valuable products were delivered quickly, regularly and reliably to Asian markets.”
“Australian producers understand that to maintain their reputation in export markets for clean and fresh produce they will soon have to demonstrate that their products were held under optimal conditions for the whole journey.”
“The iMOVE CRC is keen to encourage collaborative projects in Australia to deliver these opportunities.”