Using IoT and M2M to Secure Logistics Supply Chain

1. Introduction

Most traditional remote surveillance security solutions are inadequate for securing temporary shipping yards because they require high internet bandwidth which is typically not available at these remote locations. Logistics companies have been relying on guards to secure these temporary locations which proved to be both expensive and unreliable.

911 Security implemented an innovative custom solution for detecting theft on shipping yards and notifying headquarters in realtime.

2. Use case

The security operator receives a text message from his YardProtect dashboard stating that shipping container CSQU3054383 was just opened.

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The security operator uses his Video Management Software (VMS) for visual confirmation. He plays back recorded footage from the yard’s on-demand 360 camera and detects two unidentified people trying to open the reported container.

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The security operator informs local law enforcements and sends an audio message to scare off the burglars. He continues to monitor the situation until law enforcement arrives onsite. The footage is then bookmarked for evidence.

3. Hardware design

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3.1 Sensors

Wireless and battery operated sensors (door contact, photocell) are used to detect when a specific container is opened. Each sensor is identified (in the YardProtect software) by the ID of the container it’s installed on.

3.2 Camera

A 360 camera with edge storage is installed and integrated with Video Management Software (VMS) to provide a video playback with 360 coverage. This solution is optimized to use limited cellular bandwidth by recording videos locally on the camera and transferring them only on demand.

3.3 Wireless mesh network

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A ZigBee network is used for sensor communication because it provides a wide-range mesh radio coverage with efficient power consumption.

The ZigBee network is connected to the shipping company backend using a cellular modem which transfers sensor messages via 3G/4G cellular network.

As the container makes its journey from one yard to another, the attached sensor automatically connects to the next gateway and becomes part of the new yard’s security system.

4. Software design

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4.1 Firmware

A custom gateway firmware is created to route sensor messages to the shipping company backend.

4.2 Message broker

MQTT server is used as an M2M (Machine to Machine) broker and lightweight messaging protocol allowing sensor messages to be transported reliably with optimum bandwidth utilization which is a perfect fit for cellular network and battery operated sensors.

4.3 Web application

A custom web application is created to provide a user interface for displaying sensor messages and configuring notification rules to handle detected events.

4.4 Notification engine

When an event associated with a notification rule is detected, the notification engine instantly sends a meaningful notification to a person or group of people via email, SMS, or phone calls based on predefined settings.

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