The Horizon Cargo Visibility and Security Solution
WHAT IS THIS TECHNOLOGY? The Horizon Cargo Visibility and Security solution was developed to provide real-time information in regards to the location, condition and security of high-value pharmaceutical containerized cargo shipments from supplier to destination. The solution focuses on addressing one of the larger gaps in the pharmaceutical supply chain, which includes the intermodal movement of cargo where the greatest opportunity for theft, counterfeiting and/or contamination of goods can take place. Deviations within the shipment lifecycle are measured and reported through the proper chain-of-custody to eliminate external risks of tampering, while ensuring the integrity of the shipped products.
WHAT DOES THIS TECHNOLOGY DO? The Horizon Cargo Visibility and Security solution provides a combination of advanced tracking technologies and integrated sensor components that supply real-time data against an established logistics trip plan for each customer shipment. The logistics trip plan is created on a customer-by-customer basis and identifies the scheduled cargo movements, along with the parameters for operation and monitoring of the cargo. These parameters are either uploaded to a mobile device platform that has been deployed to the shipping containers for the cargo or are applied against the data that is fed into the logistics back-office platform.
Horizon’s hardware partner has provided a mobile device platform that offers the flexibility to support a custom solution tailored to the needs of both the operations resources and pharmaceutical customer, who manage the transportation legs. The mobile device platform provided a base solution, which includes modules for communication redundancy, device-level encryption, and sensor management. The mobile device platform is also integrated with the micro-controllers on the container refrigeration units to provide a two-way interface to the temperature controlled environment required for shipping high-value, temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and bio-tech products.
While the platform is proprietary to the hardware partner, a majority of the components that go into and interface with the platform are commercially available, off-the-shelf technologies. Future functionality will leverage the mesh networking components already built into the platform for container-to-container communication, which will enable more automated data monitoring capabilities while shipments are on a vessel or within a storage facility.
The integrated Horizon solution is focused on providing visibility and security to the cargo to both customers and transportation carriers. Sensors within the container units provide ongoing information to the mobile device platform in regards to temperature, light and door security. Additional sensor-packs are available to measure and monitor parameters around shock, vibration, humidity and radiation, among others. The data from these sensors are constantly relayed back to the mobile device platform. The data is evaluated at the mobile device platform (based on the uploaded parameters for operation) to determine how and when to report the information collected. This platform offers the flexibility to modify the reporting intervals and data sets based on desired requirements for a specific location or geo-zones.
The back-office component of the solution is utilized to instantiate a logistics trip plan while providing an upload of the appropriate operational parameters to the mobile device platform based on the customer and/or shipment being processed. The back-office components evaluate the data transmitted from the mobile device platform and provide visibility to the end-users, in regards to location and current status of the shipment. These events are combined with real-time data events received from other disparate operational systems for evaluation and comparison to the logistics trip plan. If a deviation or alert condition is generated for a shipment, the data collected is logged within the system and sent to the appropriate parties for response as defined in the chain-of-custody for a specific customer. Current events are monitored for route deviations, temperature threshold violations and unauthorized cargo security breaches.
The back-office functionality also provides visibility to the operations resources that manage the transportation legs and monitor the health of the temperature controlled refrigeration units. The mobile device platform provides a direct interface to the refrigeration units that allow operational personnel to set temperatures, run diagnostic programs, monitor various unit processing cycles and to view/reset alarms as they occur while the units are in transit. This has a tremendous upside in terms of operations and maintenance cost since personnel are no longer required within a specific location in order to perform these tasks.
In addition, the location information provided within the solution allows for better planning and forecasting of assets to meet customer demand. In doing so, the transportation carriers have the ability to better manage their fleets to utilize available assets within a customer location or to reposition nearby assets at a minimal cost to the carrier and customer. This visibility further enhances the transportation carrier’s operations by providing the information required to better utilize and possibly reduce the amount of containerized assets within a fleet.
The Horizon Cargo Visibility and Security solution will continue to evolve as new functionality is built into the mobile device platform and the associated back-office solution. Beyond the pharmaceutical market there are a variety of other commercial customer and government agencies that are requesting similar monitoring capabilities to supplement their own supply chains. Military shipments, high-value electronic equipment, temperature sensitive goods (agricultural products, seafood, etc), and hazardous materials are key areas for exploiting this technology where the ROI around risk management, asset management and compliance far outweighs the cost of deployment.
Conclusion: Pharmaceutical companies are embracing this technology as it fulfills the need to provide a cohesive view of the supply chain from supplier to destination. The solution provides end-users with assurance and guarantees of location, product integrity and compliance in real-time for an industry that is highly regulated.
Horizon Services Group, LLC
600 E. Las Colinas Blvd., Suite 550
Irving, TX 75039