Air New Zealand keeps tabs on cargo with Bluetooth

Air New Zealand says it is installing more than 5,500 Bluetooth tags on its cargo containers, pallets and unit load devices
  • Stuart Corner (Computerworld New Zealand)
  • 09 November, 2017 16:04

Air New Zealand says it is installing more than 5,500 Bluetooth tags on its cargo containers, pallets and unit load devices and deploying more than 100 readers at 29 airports in New Zealand and overseas to provide real time information on cargo movements.

The system is claimed to be a world-first large-scale deployment of New Zealand technology, but the airline is being very vague about its origins.

Air New Zealand says it operates an average of 3,566 cargo flights per week and exports 42,000 tonnes of goods from New Zealand annually

General manager of cargo, Rick Nelson, said Air New Zealand expected to generate “enormous efficiencies” from the deployment.

“This technology has been introduced as a result of direct feedback from our cargo and airport staff who saw an opportunity to enhance our handling processes,” he said.

“These Bluetooth tags and readers will not only allow us to speed up cargo handling but also improve our accuracy and inventory management and help to locate any missing items.”

The technology is only being used internally at this stage, but the airline says it hopes to give customers access in the future.

Nelson said: “We see significant potential for this technology – it could be rolled out at airports to monitor ground service equipment, or used to manage mail shipments and eventually we would like to see it become customer facing so our cargo customers can more easily track their shipments.”

Air New Zealand said it been working with “Core Transport Technologies Inc on the technology which has been designed and manufactured in New Zealand.”

Core Transport Technologies Inc is based in Florida. However the company’s website shows offices of Core Transport Technologies NZ in Nelson and in Hong Kong. The website states it is copyright Core Technologies NZ, suggesting that this is the parent company.

Air New Zealand’s announcement quoted Core Transport Technologies managing director Ian Craig as saying he believed Air New Zealand’s deployment to be the first large scale deployment anywhere in the world.

Air New Zealand provided no details of the technology. However Hungarian company Ranger Aerospace issued a press release in September saying “CORE Transport Technologies, Inc. of New Zealand and ACL Airshop LLC of the US [a Ranger subsidiary] have joined forces in an exclusive strategic alliance for bringing innovative new, field-proven Bluetooth enabled logistics technology to the global air cargo industry, to jointly provide automated tracking of Unit Load Devices (ULD Equipment).”

The press release explained that data from the Bluetooth trackers would be transmitted to the COREInsight Global Network via cellular or Wi-Fi connections and that ACL's airline clients on the network would be able to access their ULD's status anytime, anywhere – through desktops, laptops, tablets or smart phones or any Internet-enabled device.

The release described Core Transport Technologies as “an agile software developer, focused for over 10 years on services that provide significant improvement to the transportation process in multiple industries, with offices in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Orlando.”