WAM Technologies LLC (WAM), provider of wireless M2M solutions for remote management of refrigerated, intermodal and other transportation assets, has announced the release of VesselConnect, a GSM-based tracking system to monitor and control refrigerated containers on-board container and related ships.
As the latest addition to WAM’s M2Connect suite of wireless telematics and cloud-based asset tracking solutions, VesselConnect offers a low-infrastructure, cost-effective alternative to older power line modem (PLM) technology for remote reefer monitoring, which requires ships to be fitted with cables and other control hardware. The launch of the new application means that for the first time, GPS/GSM-enabled reefer containers and other assets can now be seamlessly tracked from end to end along the supply chain, with visibility across road, rail, water and intermodal connections.
The VesselConnect system uses on-board GSM infrastructure to create a wireless local data transport network on the ship, enabling reefer and other containers fitted with GPS/GSM modem devices to continue to report while the vessel is on the water. The system automatically initiates after passing out of reach of terrestrial GSM networks, such as those at the port terminal. VesselConnect can be installed in less than a day, so unlike PLM systems there is no need for ships to spend long times laid up while the hardware is fitted. VesselConnect works on multiple ship types including container liners, barges, ConRo and RoRo ships.
Data from reefer containers fitted with GSM modems are captured by the VesselConnect application software, which runs on a server installed on the vessel. A real-time display shows the status and location of all reefer containers, which report every 15 minutes to an hour, depending on user requirements. Alarms are displayed immediately on the VesselConnect monitor, enabling prompt action to be taken by crew. As the software runs in the cloud, information can also be viewed remotely on any internet-connected device, not just on the vessel itself.
VesselConnect allows authorized users – on the vessel or elsewhere – to remotely adjust reefer set points, as well as to conduct pre-trip inspections (PTIs), on-board, reducing the amount of time needed for equipment preparation on the landside. The system also provides the precise temperature monitoring and records needed to perform cold treatment, a process required by the USDA and other food regulation agencies to prevent insect infestations in certain fruit.
A key benefit of VesselConnect is enhanced crew efficiency and safety, by eliminating the need to manually check the status and condition of reefer containers. If an alarm occurs, it will be automatically displayed on the VesselConnect console and an engineer can be sent to check and resolve any issues. As the system identifies any non-performing equipment, shore-based staff can also be alerted in advance that repairs need to be undertaken, allowing parts and repair staff to be prepared before a vessel arrives into port. As an additional benefit, the GSM network may also be used to enable crew cell phone calls and text messaging.
“As shipping lines move to the increased use of GPS/GSM-enabled containers, they need to fill the traceability gap on vessels at sea,” said Michael Dempsey, vice-president sales and marketing at WAM Technologies. “With VesselConnect, shipping lines now have a clear path forward to achieve end-to-end visibility of their reefer activities, driving reduced cargo damage and operating costs.”