By Gill McShane
Across the globe, sustainability and food waste remain big buzzwords. Swedish developer MOST is aiming to play a role – by creating a transportation tracker that makes it easy for exporters, retailers, importers and distributors to monitor their shipments, respond faster to problems, optimise their transportation methods and, ultimately, offer a better quality product with less waste. As global business expands, PBUK speaks with MOST CEO Jon Hjertenstein to find out more.
The MOST Device is a real-time transportation monitoring solution from departure to arrival. It works off a SIM card that connects to a GSM network connection (2G signal) via a strong antenna to continuously upload to the internet updates on the external factors affecting cargo.
MOST, which is headquartered in Stockholm, is selling the device across five continents, including to fresh produce importers in key receiver markets, and to exporters in countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Testing is also underway with a number of international retailers, as well as leading global sea freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel (K+N), Feusisberg, Swtizerland, which just announced expanded trials.
“Kuehne + Nagel, which is a really big carrier in the fresh produce industry, has been doing trials with us during 2017,” Hjertenstein tells PBUK. “The feedback has been good, and that’s why they are now expanding the trials on a global scale. Receiving this level of interest from a market leader like K+N is the best evidence we can get that we have a great product and solution.”
Hjertenstein said that MOST is currently running trials with major supermarket chains in the UK, South Africa and Central America, although he cannot disclose any names at this stage. “Sustainability is on everyone’s lips, and this is one way to reduce food waste,” he points out.
Hjertenstein says the device, which took two years to develop, was designed to help tackle the mounting food waste problem.
By being able to monitor in real-time the temperature, light, humidity and shock, as well as the location of any given shipment, users can take full control of their supply chain. Often, that means making informed decisions to carry out proactive intervention and/or optimising their cargo’s environment or transportation method.
“Customers love it because the device can reduce the risk of damage,” claims Hjertenstein. “It has enabled them to offer a better product, and incur fewer returns and charges.
“The beauty is that it has more sensors than other devices. It gives you a higher intelligence on your shipment.”
Within the MOST Device system, users can programme their minimum and maximum levels for temperature, light, humidity or shock, depending on the product. Alerts are sent via email or SMS when those levels go below or above the user’s settings.
“Sometimes, the shipping line can be contacted while the shipment is still on the water or on the docks to make any necessary adjustments, such as turning down the temperature within the container,” Hjertenstein explains.
“Customers can improve their temperature levels or even change their journey route, where possible. For example, one of our customers was able to find an alternative route where the road was less bumpy.”
Adding its green credentials, the MOST Device is also rechargeable, reusable and robust. According to Hjertenstein, it takes six hours to charge via a USB cable, and has a three-month (100-day) battery life.
“We’ve not yet had a device that’s broken down due to battery,” he claims. “In theory, it can be recharged 1,000 times. It’s a green solution.”
“Either you use the device one-way, and MOST picks up the device for recycling at the entry port. Or, you take a subscription and retrieve the device to use over and over again.”
What else is unique?
Founded in 2014, MOST is aiming to become a market leader in transportation, according to Hjertenstein. The company’s first innovation, the MOST Device has been available commercially for a year.
One of the founders of MOST used to work for Nokia, which is where the expertise was gained to develop an antenna capable of connecting to the 2G network from inside a container.
“It’s so strong that it transmits out of a steel container – we are getting a signal when others aren’t,” points out Hjertenstein.
Although satellites could be used to track shipments on the water, Hjertenstein says currently it is too expensive to get connectivity at sea to monitor a container the entire way from farm to port and beyond.
However, he is quick to point out that for sea-bound shipments the MOST Device will resume its data information transmission on the water as soon as it regains a 2G signal – often on entering a port’s harbour.
“Also, sometimes you can get 2G connectivity between coasts, like between the UK and France,” adds Hjertenstein. “So you can receive the data before the shipment even reaches the port.”
Even where a coastal connection is not available, the MOST Device can still provide information faster than traditional data loggers once the shipment arrives at the port.
“In order to download the information off manual devices, like a USB stick, shipments might have to spend days at the port to clear customs before you can take the device out to plug it into a computer,” Hjertenstein notes.
“USB devices are also small, so they’re often lost. Whereas with our device, wherever it can connect to a signal, the data information is uploaded continuously to the internet with automatic back-up to the Cloud. It’s completely web-based – you’ll never lose data.”
How the device works
Before leaving the producer, the MOST Device is placed inside a container facing the doors. From then on, it monitors temperature, light, humidity and shock via digital sensors, as well as location.
Wherever a 2G network is available, the sensor data and location is uploaded to the internet. That information is accessed by users by logging onto the web-based MOST Control Panel interface at any time of the day via a computer, phone or tablet.
Large-scale exporters, importers or retailers have the benefit of seeing all of their shipments on one page via a map view. All users can share device data and generate tailored reports.
The MOST Device requires no installation and can track shipments across a range of industries, including fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, electronics and textiles.