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Content archived on 2024-05-28

ISO Shipping Container Tracking and Monitoring System

Final Report Summary - ISOTRACK (ISO Shipping Container Tracking and Monitoring System)

Executive Summary:
The ISOTRACK project proposed an initiative to improve the security of shipping containers. The objectives of the project were to show how dangerous and human cargo can be detected in a ISO shipping container and how that knowledge is processed, transmitted, received and relayed to security services and other stakeholders who can act to make any incident safe. Electronic sensors and tracking equipment systems are robustly encapsulated within a shipping container door which is made of composite material and is transparent to radio frequency transmissions. Events monitored include the presence of chemical explosives, radioactive substances, stowaways and unplanned intrusion. Our solutions include using integrated systems employing GPS, GSM and Zigbee meshing network technologies. This initiative will provide benefits to our European SME membership by way of significant reductions in cargo insurance premiums, in addition to giving Europe a foothold in the worldwide growing movement towards improved security for container transport systems.
The Isotrack project involved the development of an innovative composite container door which is transparent to radio frequency communication. Securely encapsulated in the composite door panel, are modular elements for detecting/sensing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC),radioactive material and the presence of stowaways.

Event processing, transmission and reception of information will ensure that significant events will be acted upon by the relevant authorities in order to prevent a security breach or potential act terrorism. This will involve design of efficient human decision support systems and the availability of suitable. Communications networks to relevant government, national, or local authorities who have the power and resources to take difficult decisions and deal with any emergency flagged by the system.
The results of the project have satisfied the requirements of the research programme and Isotrack has the potential to be taken forward into full commercialisation by an enthusiastic consortium.

Project Context and Objectives:
The main objectives were as follows:

To develop a robust composite container door which can withstand typical operational loads and stresses.
To comply with the requirement of ISO 1496-1:1990 to withstand an evenly distributed load of 0.4xPg where P is the maximum payload or 113 kN for a 20 ft container (1TEU). Target weight of door is 40Kg
To develop the manufacturing process to enable integration of the electronic device.
To develop a suitable tracking and telemetry system based on GPS GSM and 2.4GHz Zigbee self-organising mesh network.
To locate the container to within 7 metres and to operate with a signal drop out time not exceeding 5% when located in a stack of containers representing maximum operational stacking densities.
Understand the performance characteristics of metal oxide thin-film and semiconductor sensors for presence of volatile organic compounds and for ionising radiation detection devices.
To design a prototype system capable of detecting any quantity of explosive at any location within the container that scientifically could be categorised as capable of producing a “significant event”.
To develop a combination of sensors and Data Acquisition System that can adequately detect volatile organic chemicals, chemical explosives, gamma rays (radioactive substance), stowaways and door opening. Sensor confidence levels such that detection accuracy will exceed 99.5% and the confidence level of any alarm event will exceed 98%
For radiation detection-the ability to detect a radioactive source of a scientifically significant dangerous level, while not raising false alarms for events due to natural background radiation sources.
To develop a retro-fit-able composite container door with integrated tracking, hazardous material sensing, stowaway and door opening detection, that meets ISO 1496-1:1990. Within target cost of 740€ and still able to meet ISO 1496-1:1990 after 10 years service.

Project Results:
The main project achievement are liste heere:
Produced detailed specifications for wireless communications
Researched Sensors for VOCs, C02 and Radiation
Researched 5 different method of manufacturing composite panels
Developed RF communication circuitry and PCBs
Designed and developed central controller board
Developed circuitry and PCBs for sensor modules
Developed data acquisition software and graphical user interface
Prototypes produced for subsystems
Composite door CAD designs and FEA analysis completed
Reception hardware development complete
Door manufactured
Door was tested for the ISO 1496 approval, three separate tests were performed – Door deflection didn’t meet required standard. Retest required

Potential Impact:
The final result from the project is a composite container door with integrated communications and sensor electronics. It will be capable of being fitted to new and existing shipping containers. The impact that the results of this project will have could be significant in the areas of conatiner security and reduced insurance premiums for operators. With this system installed, valuable time and effort maybe save in the checking of conatiners at ports and security services will be able to monitor suspicius cargo anywhere in the world via satellite communication. The technology is aimed at European container transport companies when they operate in other areas of the world where port security is stingent and more checks are carried out. Delays at these ports are currently excessive and can impact on the economics of a small company.

List of Websites:

The project website can be found at the following address:
The details for the main contacts for the Isotrack project are as follow:

Project Coordinator:
Mr Ray Lee
ADS Group Limited
Tel: +44 (0) 1428 607788
Project Exploitation Manager:

Mr Dougie Bryce
TTS (Shipping) Limited
Tel: +44(0) 1664 410 441

Project Manager:
Mr Orlando Davy
UK intelligent Systems Research Institute
Tel: +44(0)1664 501501

In addition, another website has been created by the Isotrack consortium who will be taking the project forward into commercialisation. The website address is shown here:$sitepreview/