Tuesday 18th May 2021

Trailer and cargo container tracking improves supply chain visibility and transport security

Published on May 2nd, 2018

Berg Insight anticipates that there will be a strong focus on increased supply chain visibility and transport security in the coming years. Tracking of trailers, intermodal containers and rail freight wagons is increasingly common, says CEO, Johan Fagerberg, and technology advancements allow for ever-smaller logistics units such as individual pallets or cargo boxes to be tracked at a reasonable cost.

General acceptance of remote tracking solutions will first be established in specific usage scenarios such as high-value, time-critical or refrigerated goods. Trailer tracking can be part of fleet management solutions including both trucks and trailers. The history of fleet management solutions goes back several decades while tracking and monitoring of shipping containers came into focus after 9/11.

In order to make freight transport efficient, products are packed into collective logistics units which can remain intact throughout the delivery chain. Smaller logistics units such as boxes and pallets are often grouped into larger units and loaded on trailers, semi-trailers, swap bodies, rail freight wagons, air freight unit load devices (ULDs) or intermodal shipping containers. These loading units can be applicable to one or more modes of transport.

Trailers and semi-trailers are mostly used in road transport, swap bodies can be transferred between road and rail transport, rail freight wagons are used on railways, ULDs are used in air freight transport and shipping containers can be carried on several transport modes. More than 20 million intermodal containers and over 13 million trailers are in use worldwide.

Berg Insight estimates that shipments of remote tracking systems with cellular or satellite communication capabilities for cargo loading units including trailers, intermodal containers, rail freight wagons, air freight cargo containers, cargo boxes and pallets reached 0.9 million units worldwide in 2017. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9%, shipments are expected to reach 2.4 million units in 2022.

During the same period, the installed base of remote tracking systems is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 19.6% from 3.7 million units at the end of 2017 to 8.9 million units by 2022. Trailer tracking is the largest market segment, estimated to account for 49.3% of the total installed base of tracking units deployed on trailers and cargo containers in 2017. Intermodal container tracking is the second largest segment with an estimated share of 32.9% of the total installed base at the end of 2017.

We rank ORBCOMM as the largest provider of tracking solutions for cargo loading units, having a significant installed base of trailers as well as containers. The company has in the past years been highly involved in merger & acquisition (M&A) activity related to real-time asset tracking, including notable acquisitions such as Blue Tree Systems, Euroscan and WAM Technologies.

The latter was involved as a subcontractor for the Maersk/AT&T project to roll out a system for real-time tracking of Maersk’s entire fleet of 270,000 refrigerated containers. The project is one of the largest cellular-based industrial IoT deployments of its kind.

The North American trailer telematics market is dominated by ORBCOMM and SkyBitz which both have more than 300,000 active units, while Omnitracs, Spireon and I.D. Systems all have surpassed 100,000 units. The European trailer telematics market is considerably smaller. Idem Telematics are the leading player with 60,000 active units while other top Europe-based players include Schmitz Cargobull and Novacom with over 25,000 active trailer units each. Mecomo and Agheera, also based in Europe, are strong vendors in the adjacent swap body segment.

Envotech and Numerex, based in Malaysia and the US respectively, have large installed bases on containers. Amsted Rail, Asto Telematics and Nexiot have all deployed thousands of tracking devices on rail freight wagons. Other significant players include Sensitech that has an installed base of more than 200,000 units in the general cargo segment and OnAsset Intelligence which is active in the air freight cargo tracking market.

The author of this blog is Johan Fagerberg, CEO of Berg Insight

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