In The News

SkyBitz product tracks cargo for intermodal shippers

Cellular tracking device traces chassis and containers over Web links.

DC Velocity
February 29, 2016
By Ben Ames

Logistics telematics provider SkyBitz Inc. has released a new type of real-time asset-tracking platform, saying the product could help intermodal operators obtain better visibility over their cargo chassis and containers.

Intermodal chassis providers and carriers that use the platform, called the Falcon GXT3100i, can gain a fuller picture of every chassis' location and whether a container is loaded on it, the Herndon, Va.-based company said in a statement. The real-time tracking data can help them improve on-time cargo deliveries, reduce delays, and trim turn-cycle times.

The system uses a mounting bracket on each chassis that holds a cellular tracking device and an ultrasound-based SkyBitz Container Detection Sensor. Both devices report data over a satellite communications link, sending updates to a data center at predetermined intervals. To conserve battery power, managers can program the device to shut down in certain geographic zones and time periods, such as when the cargo is traveling by rail, SkyBitz said.

"The actionable information from this solution allows intermodal businesses to gain better utilization, avoid misuse, and increase their customers' satisfaction by improving on-time delivery," SkyBitz president Henry Popplewell said in a statement.

The Skybitz announcement is another example of technology being brought to bear to remedy the chronic problem of chassis provisioning in the U.S. Since ocean containerization took wing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, shipping lines controlled the chassis fleets and provided chassis with every container. In recent years, though, liners have been fed up with the rising costs of chassis ownership, and seeing the U.S. was the only sea freight market where vessel operators controlled and provided the chassis, began exiting the business and selling off their equipment to third parties.

The transition has been a difficult one, as motor carriers working the ports found that the new chassis owners were often not repositioning the equipment where it was needed. In many cases, drivers had to go where the chassis were dropped off, which could be a distance from where the trucker entered the port environs.

Actions: E-mail