Mike Fitzgearald, Net Feasa (left) and Mike Hayes, Tyndall (right) Image: Brian Lougheed
Tyndall National Institute researchers working with Irish SME Net Feasa to make 25 million steel containers smarter and more energy efficient
Shipping lines, freight forwarders and haulage companies are under increasing pressure to minimise transport costs, ensure on-time delivery and meet the increasing need for the goods they carry to be closely monitored to ensure that environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and air quality are maintained at the correct level. Globally, 90% of goods are transported via ship, truck or rail using standardised steel containers. Approximately 89% of the global fleet are dry containers, which equates to 25 million and numbers are expected to grow by 4-5% year on year.
The cargo within these containers needs to be constantly tracked and monitored to ensure it has a safe and compliant journey to its final destination. The most efficient way to do this is to install smart sensors, also known as IoT (Internet of Things) devices, on or within the container. Currently the batteries, which power these sensors, have a life span of less than two years making it unviable to retrofit sensors on containers without a major maintenance regime. The Energy ECS (Electronics, Components and Systems) teams at Tyndall National Institute at UCC and Net Feasa, an Irish wireless IoT service provider focused exclusively on connecting assets that move across the global supply chain, are working together to develop the future of cargo transport in the form of a smart container.
Mike Hayes, Head of ICT for Energy Efficiency at Tyndall, explains, “Our researchers are developing a PMIC (Power Management Integrated Circuit) that will dramatically extend the battery life of retrofitted wireless sensors. This PMIC will not only reduce battery drain, but will also use tiny amounts of previously unusable ambient energies available on the container’s journey, such as vibrations, heat and light and harvest them as an auxiliary power source. In many cases this will mean that the sensor will have full power autonomy.”
This advancement is a potential game changer for the intermodal transport industry, where currently only 5% of containers, predominantly refrigerated (Reefers) are wirelessly connected and sensorised. Removing the need for frequent in-service battery replacement means the sensors and their power source will match the lifetime of the container.
Mike Fitzgerald, Chairman of Net Feasa stated; “This is a critical IoT Use Case in the digital transformation of the supply chain. We are complementing this important research in Tyndall with an open standards based global wireless network making Net Feasa the trusted and dedicated service provider. Our IoTPASSTM edge device, together with any 3rd party devices, will communicate back to our cloud based EvenKeel TM device management and performance monitoring network. We will also deliver the benefits of this new meta data through data analytics and machine learning to shipping companies. This will enable a significant carbon footprint reduction, cost reductions and new revenue generating services.”
This research forms part of the new Energy ECS (Electronics, Components and Systems) project launched in June 2021, with 30 participants from eight European countries which will pave the way for an emerging new European business and technology ecosystem aimed at tackling various energy related challenges for the future of mobility.
The advancement of e-mobility is a key part of the green energy transition. Together with its direct role in reducing emissions, the adoption of e-mobility also has a crucial indirect role as a grid stability element. E-mobility accelerates the transition to wind and solar energy production, and thus reduces the use of fossil fuels in the energy mix.
“We are proud to drive European innovation and technology ecosystems as a part of the Energy ECS project. Addressing problems in the now helps our society to transition towards a low-carbon economy. E-mobility is an excellent area to drive the transition in practice. Collaborating in ecosystems is the way towards innovation and joint benefits for all the partners involved,” says Ari Järvelä, Head of Operations at TietoEVRY, the overall project coordinator for Energy ECS.
About Tyndall National Institute
Tyndall is a research flagship of University College Cork and a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) materials, devices and systems. Tyndall is Ireland’s largest Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) specialising in both electronics and photonics. Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-tech and the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, they are focused on delivering human and economic impact from excellence in research. Tyndall is home to a research community of 600 people of 52 nationalities.
About Net Feasa
Net Feasa is a trusted service provider to the global supply chain. We have over 30 year of experience in wireless communications, IoT, cloud, big data, machine learning and network security, having pioneered cellular (GSM) connectivity for both the maritime and aviation industry since the early 2000’s. We are a fully licensed IoT network operator with a global extra-territorial mobile license. Since 2015 we have been squarely focused on providing standards basedwireless IoT connectivity solutions for the container transport industry, pioneering the industry’s drive towards digital transformation, moving from manual, paper centric processes to real-time, cloud-based digital information systems.
About Energy ECS
Energy ECS project is an extensive 3-year project that develops smart and secure energy solutions for future mobility and green energy transition. The project has a total of 30 partners from eight European countries and an overall budget of 33 M€. It is co-financed via the ECSEL Joint Undertaking of the EU Horizon 2020, national funding agencies of the participating countries, and the consortium partners. The project is coordinated by TietoEVRY and consists of 16 small and mid-sized enterprises, eight large enterprises, and six research and technology organisations from Finland, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland. The project consortium and proposal were built with the help of Spinverse.
About ECSEL JU
The “Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership” (ECSEL) is a Joint Undertaking established in June 2014 by the European Union Council Regulation No 561/2014. The ECSEL Joint Undertaking – the Public-Private Partnership for Electronic Components and Systems – funds Research, Development and Innovation projects for world-class expertise in these key enabling technologies, essential for Europe’s competitive leadership in the era of the digital economy. Through the ECSEL JU, the European industry, SMEs and Research and Technology Organisations are supported and co-financed by 30 ECSEL Participating States and the European Union. A total of approximately 346 M€ European and national grants have been awarded to proposals with total eligible costs of about 748 M€ arising from the ECSEL JU, making another step forward in the 5 B€ programme to be supported by ECSEL JU.