Container tracking: RFID vs. Satellite – an honest evaluation



Bert Moore, Editor, ‘RFID Connections,’ AIM Global, USA


One recent article contrasting RFID and satellite tracking for cargo containers raised some interesting points. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on positive aspects of what satellite tracking could offer, it concentrated on making some fairly dubious assertions about the ‘faults’ of RFID. So, what is the truth about satellite versus RFID for container tracking?

Satellite communications that go beyond mere GPS information can provide information not only about the location of a container but also about its environmental conditions, whether it has been tampered with, and other useful data. What’s more, this can be achieved with in-transit containers virtually anywhere in the world. For some applications, such as tracking of munitions, hazardous materials, pharmaceuticals and other sensitive goods, having access to that kind of information in real time can enable the cargo’s owner to take immediate corrective action (if any is possible). For the majority of supply chain applications, however, access to this type of data at the point of receipt is perfectly adequate.

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