Track shipments

Ukraine-led Moeco uses IoT sensors to track home supplies • The Register

When Russia invaded her homeland, Ukrainian expat Alexa Sinyachova was immediately inundated with requests from friends and business partners asking what they could do to help.

Sinyachova was in an ideal position to lend assistance as CEO of Moeco, a five-year-old startup developing wireless trackers that can be attached to shipments to monitor their movements through supply chains. As people started donating funds, medical supplies and other necessities, the problem arose of getting them to Ukraine, a beleaguered country where supply chains aren’t exactly stable.

Attaching Moeco’s 4G and 5G parcel trackers to every shipment provided that assurance.

“We had to make sure that the packages, collected through the efforts of hundreds of people, arrived safely and at the right address,” said Sinyachova, who lives and works in Germany.

The packages arrived at their destination, we are told, and since then Moeco has been coordinating with the Ukrainian health and defense ministries to deliver $2.5 million worth of medical supplies, body armor and other necessities to the Ukrainian government for distribution.

We note that Moeco is not the only provider of wireless shipment trackers; Lightbug, Acculink from Sierra Wireless and Tive come to mind, for example.

Decoupling carrier tracking

Moeco was in the right place at the right time to help Ukraine, and this isn’t its first case of serendipity giving its carrier-independent IoT trackers a huge business opportunity: COVID-19 has also helped.

“During the first peak of COVID, there was a huge demand from businesses around the world because logistics and carriers, especially in China, were completely frozen, leading to many losses,” Sinyachova said.

Moeco’s Global Beacons, which periodically connect to 4G or 5G networks to relay location and other data about their attached package, can be attached to boxes and activated by pulling a tab. They can be monitored via Moeco’s cloud-based dashboard after scanning a QR code on the label. When activated, they relay GPS location (or cell tower triangulated coordinates when GPS is unavailable), temperature, humidity, light, and shock data. Data is transmitted only when necessary to save battery power.

Moeco may be in the right place for the third time, as the future of package tracking data freely available from carriers is coming to an end: shipping giants are blocking third parties from aggregating and providing information on parcels and shipments to others, increasing the need for independent physical trackers to relay this information.

The popular iOS package tracking app Delivery recently said that carriers – apparently FedEx and DHL – had made changes limiting the software’s ability to leverage tracking services to monitor shipments.

“Unfortunately, FedEx has made the decision to block third-party trackers such as Delivery from their API,” Junecloud, developer of Delivery, said in a statement. Tweeter. Junecloud said it expects more shipping companies to adopt similar tactics, essentially forcing people to use shipping providers’ own tracking websites or apps.

Either way, these types of trackers are supposed to provide real-time insight into deliveries. “We want to understand what’s happening inside that shipping container, what’s happening between a package going from a truck to a porch, what’s happening in real time,” Sinyachova said.

tracker technology

Speaking with customers, Moeco said it has found that 95% of items moving through a supply chain go one way: simply from source to destination. That means expensive reusable trackers are kind of pointless.

To that end, two of Moeco’s sensors, the Global Tag and the Logger, are said to be fully disposable with multi-year battery life, and a recently announced third model called the Act Tracker can apparently be recycled with regular plastic waste.

The Global Tag and Act Tracker gadgets use the aforementioned cellular and GPS connectivity to report the conditions a package is in and contain an array of sensors designed to be as cheap and disposable as possible.

The recorder contains the same detection technology, but without the cellular radio. It stores the data it accumulates throughout its journey, then relays it to a smartphone or gateway via Bluetooth.

The Global Tag and Act Tracker are small, and the Logger is essentially flat. Both the Global Tag and Act Tracker have a bump where the batteries and extra hardware live, with the Global Tag bump sticking out just over half an inch. All three have adhesive backs and are activated by tearing a tab from the bottom.

Pricing information for specific sensors varies by volume. The lowest price for a tracker advertised by Moeco is $5 per shipment, which may apply specifically to the recorder. Moeco said in a statement that the Act Tracker starts at $14 per unit, and Sinyachova said her company hopes to reduce all of its unit prices as it grows.

A Future of Seller-Centric Tracking?

Moeco generates a lot of data, which it says is all encrypted in transit and stored on the company’s cloud platform, which also hosts the tracking dashboard.

Some of Moeco’s biggest customers, including DuPont and Colgate, were apparently happy that Moeco’s platform had full ownership of their data, even though they still didn’t want their data in Moeco’s cloud: they needed an on-site solution.

“We didn’t know it would be the killer feature. As we found out, most of our customers’ supply chain data is also their customer database. They can’t share that with third parties. , especially a small startup,” Sinyachova said. .

Late last year, with their COVID-19 jamming in the rearview mirror, Sinyachova and her Moeco co-founder Mit Gorilovskiy realized they wanted to white-label Moeco for logistics and transport companies. other customers, thereby expanding their potential reach. “It’s easy for us to deploy, white label and be the technology provider. They’re the logistics experts,” the chief executive said.

Sinyachova said that in five to ten years Moeco and similar products could and should be a new industry standard. “That’s what I’ve been hearing recently from customers and new customers. They’re very interested in adopting it as soon as possible,” she said.

Sinyachova may not be too far off the mark: Forrester said connected devices have the potential to completely transform supply chains. Complexity makes it difficult to modernize entire supply chains all at once, and Internet of Things gadgets can solve key problems to get things done piece by piece. Track-and-trace sensors, Forrester said, are a common way to begin digital supply chain transformations.

“Supply chain solutions are complex, interconnected and difficult to disentangle. Strategic prioritization and technology investments reduce implementation challenges and provide additional capabilities,” Forrester said. ®