A Midland firm, which has created a new satellite-tracked lock for cargo shipments, is promising to deliver dozens of jobs on the back of it.
Birmingham-based Guardfreight International this week launched E-Containerlock at the city Subcon conference – in a bid to prevent £70 billion worth of cargo going missing every year.
The new lock can be fitted to shipping containers and provides an in-built satellite tracking system that provides location updates and immediate alerts if entry is forced.
The company is projecting a £16 million turnover by 2018 in its business plan, and believes it can create up to 50 jobs directly and in the supply chain.
It is working alongside the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN), a collective of 10 manufacturers from the region, to bring the lock to market, and inventor Andrew Harrison said he expects to start selling within six months.
The product uses GSM – global system for mobile communications – and GPS – global positioning system – technology, and Mr Harrison told the Post the marketplace was expected to grow strongly.
He said: “There are 20 million shipping containers doing 300 million different movements per year. In the first year we are talking about doing 350 movements in the marketplace, so we have been conservative.
“If you look at the expected growth of the cargo tracking industry, it is supposed to be worth 1 billion US dollars by 2016.”
He added: “The marketplace has been there for quite a long time, but the problem has been that the technology to service the market – GSM for communications and GPS for positioning – have only reached maturity for technology and affordability in the last few years.
“Prior to that there was only radio-frequency identification, which could only be read using readers, but now we can use cell phone networks to track cargo.”
Cargo theft is a growing concern for businesses operating globally, and Mr Harrison said there was demand for products like E-Containerlock for several reasons.
Companies want to know shipments are secure, shipping firms want to be able to prove products were not lost under their management and there is an increasing demand for logistics visibility – people want to know if shipments will be on time.
The E-Containerlock will be hired out and the device carries documentation so it can be sent back to Guardfreight. The product, which also has technology to prevent tampering, can also be supplied by a dealer in China. Mr Harrison said he had already raised much of the £150,000 investment needed to get the product to market.
The Midlands Assembly Network is made up of ten companies including Advanced Chemical Etching, Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, FW Cables, Grove Design, Mec Com, PP Electrical Systems, SMT Developments and Westley Engineering.
The collective, which employs more than 700 people and turnover in excess of £65 million, will provide pre-production, manufacture and assembly of the E-Containerlock.
Steve Gaston, business development manager for the Midlands Assembly Network, said: “In this instance, we will be tapping into the expertise of four companies. The project lead will be Barkley Plastics to look after injection moulding and they will bring in Mec Com for the fabrication, Westley Engineering for the presswork and SMT Developments for the PCB population.
“Subcon is one of our biggest shows and we are delighted to able to prove the MAN concept with the launch of E-Containerlock.”