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Customer story

CORE Transport Technology: New Zealand tech disrupts air cargo industry

This article was published on May 9, 2018, 2:27 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Kiwi innovation, and collaboration, is turning global aviation logistics on its head, finally giving airlines the ability to track cargo in real time.

What's in this article

    At a glance

    • With the air cargo industry seeking a cost-effective and simple way to wirelessly track cargo for many years, logistics specialists CORE Transport Technologies set out to create just that.
    • The company worked with Callaghan Innovation to optimise its designs, accessing a range of expertise that also became a solid sounding board for CORE’s young team.
    • With Air New Zealand the launch customer, CORE’s real-time, Bluetooth air cargo tracking system has been well received. Major US airlines have already adopted the technology with a queue of others ready to follow.  

    We wanted to put some scientific backing behind our design choices, so we used Callaghan Innovation to do studies that helped us create the ideal configuration.

    - Ian Craig, Managing Director, Core Transport Technology

    A desire for real-time air cargo tracking

    Losing baggage while travelling is everyone’s nightmare. For air cargo companies, the stakes are much higher and not having visibility over their goods can prove costly.  

    Given legacy technology has been expensive and not easy to use, CORE Transport Technology set out to give air cargo customers what they’ve wanted for a long time - real-time tracking and visibility. 

    New tracking technology for Air New Zealand Cargo

    [Drew Ward]

    Air New Zealand is rolling out five and a half thousand tags onto our EODs which is

    containers and pallets and about a hundred readers to every port we fly cargo into around the world.

    It's exciting for Air New Zealand for the cargo team because we're the firstcarrier in the

    world to roll out a technology like this at scale.

    The technology works by when the shipment arrives here, either it's already been built up or

    we're going to build it up in the warehouses here, it's tracked from that point on so we know

    what container we're putting the customer shipments into.

    We then see it as it progresses out of our warehouses, onto the ramp then when the

    shipment arrives in its destination port we see that straightaway, so if it's on

    its way to Heathrow, as soon as the container comes off and goes into range

    of one of our readers, we see it there, report back to our network and then as it

    moves through the handling chain there, we get information.

    Two main benefits it provides Air New Zealand as a whole,

    one is in terms of inventory control so we can see how many of each type of container and

    pallet we've got to every report in the world.

    The second one is just in that level of accuracy in shipment tracking so we know that we

    can tell where a customer shipment has at any given time.

    We are aiming to be able to get information to customers as rapidly

    as possible when their shipments are available

    It's cool to be at the cutting edge of technology like this.

    CORE also wanted to do it in a new way, ideally using a wireless Bluetooth solution as opposed to its existing systems which were based on manually scanning barcodes. 

    Core TT reader

    Core TT reader

    In it with Callaghan Innovation for the long haul

    CORE initially outsourced the design work to Asia, before eventually bringing it back inhouse. After which, the company teamed up with Callaghan Innovation, working with the Research and Development Solutions team to optimise its designs. This included reviewing existing technology, advising on systems architecture, evaluating equipment, and providing peer review of development work. 

    “We wanted to put some scientific backing behind our design choices, so we used Callaghan Innovation to do studies that helped us create the ideal configuration,” says Ian Craig, CORE’s Managing Director.

    Callaghan Innovation’s experts also helped CORE’s young team to take their next steps. “Using us as a sounding board CORE TT has grown its technical team, both in capability and size,” Callaghan Innovation Communications Research Engineer Marco Meijer says.

    Core TT screenshot showing locations on a map of Auckland airport

    Core TT screenshot

    Flying high on the world stage

    At the forefront of transport and logistics technology, CORE is now giving major airlines the ability to wirelessly track shipments in real time. In fact, major US carriers Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines have now taken it up, and CORE has other clients queuing up for the technology.

    “This is massively disruptive technology in aviation logistics,” Craig says.

    CORE’s system works via Bluetooth tags installed on cargo containers, pallets and unit load devices (ULDs). Readers at airports automatically update an online application when a tagged item goes past, providing real-time information to airlines and their customers.

    The next step is the ability to identify the exact location of an individual item within a storage facility, and CORE continues to work with Callaghan Innovation on calibrating how it performs inside densely packed warehouses.

    Overall, CORE’s wireless tracking system is a fantastic example of a New Zealand company developing its own solution when it couldn’t find the products on the market it needed, Meijer says. And, to bolster the home-grown success story, Kiwi electronics manufacturer Nautech Electronics makes the tags and readers required for the system, and Air New Zealand was the launch customer.

    Nathan Stantiall, Callaghan Innovation’s Business Innovation Adviser for manufacturing, says the CORE/Nautech collaboration is also a case-in-point of Kiwi businesses embracing the enormous opportunities offered by the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ - the new fusion of physical and digital technologies.

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