FedEx intros BLE tracking solution ahead of COVID-19 vaccine shipments
FedEx has introduced a new Bluetooth based asset tracking system in time for anticipated shipping of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for other emergency pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Customers in the aerospace and retail sectors will also be able to access location data from the new tracking system, from initial launch in the US.
Its new SenseAware ID solution uses a compact lightweight sensor to transmit location data every two seconds over a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection. The signal is received by BLE beacons in the FedEx Express network in the US, and transmitted to the cloud via Wi-Fi access points or other wired or wireless gateway devices.
SenseAware ID sensors are tracked hundreds of times versus dozens of times with traditional package scanning protocols, said FedEx. As well as positioning data, the company suggested other environmental data will also be available, such as for temperature, humidity, and vibration. Customers will be able to “proactively” monitor and protect shipments, including cold-chain storage, thermal blankets, and temperature controlled containers, it said.
It is unclear whether the solution also relies upon GPS and / or cellular positioning for outdoor connectivity, when out of range of BLE beacons and WI-Fi hotspots.
Customers, particularly those dealing in mission critical healthcare supplies, will be able to “reimagine their supply chain” through real-time updates on a package’s location. It stated: “Detailed location data is a critical differentiator for healthcare industry customers, and FedEx expects to use this new technology with anticipated COVID-19 vaccine shipments.”
The initial roll-out will see SenseAware ID sensors applied to next-day (First Overnight) FedEx Express shipments in the US. Customers in the healthcare, aerospace, and retail industries will receive access to the new location data from November 2020. Access will be expanded through the first half of 2021, and offered eventually with a range of premium delivery services.
FedEx has offered IoT tracking of postal assets for the best part of a decade already. Its SenseAware portfolio has been around for at least five years; the new SenseAware ID iteration utilises the latest version of BLE, and is designed to bring asset tracking to a wider customer base. The new solution will improve the safety, security, and speed of deliveries, said FedEx.
Robert Carter, executive vice president and chief information officer at FedEx, said: “Package tracking and visibility are more important now than ever, as businesses have become increasingly reliant on timely deliveries. SenseAware ID was designed to give our customers the precise level of tracking they’ve been looking for, enabling them to optimise their supply chains and make any necessary adjustments during the journey of their shipments.”