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New technologies to expose suspicious cargo

EU-funded scientists are delivering cutting-edge tracking technology to detect dangerous material or stowaways in shipping containers.

Industrial Technologies

Freight and haulage operators face a wide spectrum of security risks regarding the transport of shipping containers. This may include transport of dangerous goods, theft, drug and contraband smuggling, or even illegal immigration. With fewer than 2 % of containers X-rayed or physically checked at customs, the maritime International Organization for Standardization (ISO) shipping container transport system presents the most important security risk.Against this backdrop, the 'ISO shipping container tracking and monitoring system' (ISOTRACK) project focused on designing a new and improved system. While current tracking systems require external antennas and are likely to suffer from damage or vandalism, ISOTRACK designed a technology so innovative it is capable of picking up on a radio frequency (RF) signal in a steel container.The project worked on developing a robust composite container door that withstands typical operational loads and stresses. It will be transparent to RF radiation, and incorporate electronic sensors to detect chemical explosives, radioactive substances or stowaways. To locate the container, a tracking and telemetry system was used. This was based on the Global Positioning System (GPS), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Zigbee wireless mesh network technologies.Researchers tried to gain further insight into the operation of metal oxide thin-film and semiconductor sensors to avoid false alarms for events caused by background radiation. Detection accuracy and confidence level of any alarm event should exceed 98 %.This composite door and modular elements will fit to existing and new shipping containers, making cargo shipping significantly safer and more efficient.

Keywords

Shipping container, tracking system, composite door, electronic sensor

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