A Midland company has launched an innovative locking device which aims to put a stop to the scourge of theft from shipping containers - a practice which is estimated to cost around £54 billion each year.
E-Containerlock has been developed by Droitwich-based Guardfreight and can be fitted to all types of shipping containers, roller shutter doors, trailer barn doors and bulk liquid tankers.
The device, which has been developed by Guardfreight directors Andrew Harrison and Wayne Cressman, overcomes several security flaws experienced by conventional locks.
It also features a unique, in-built GPRS tracking system that provides location updates and immediate alerts if entry is forced.
The product has just completed nine months of rigorous testing and global trials, with more than 300 journeys across the US, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe made with E-Containerlock fitted.
Pre-release interest has seen a number of devices delivered and trialled by potential customers from the US and Mexico to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Explaining its benefits, Mr Harrison said: “There are numerous ways of breaking into shipping containers, taking the contents and then closing them so it doesn’t look like they’ve been tampered with.
“We knew we could come up with a universal solution that would help tackle this issue.
“The E-Containerlock is fitted in seconds and offers a host of security benefits, including wraparound fitting, hub shield and extended housing that prevents tampering, handle rotation and left hand door opening respectively.
“The innovation comes in the multiple sensors and GPRS technology that are built into the device.
“This gives clients the chance to monitor their cargo at any point of the journey and also receive alerts if the container is opened or tampered with.
“This is ideal for preventing theft of goods and for proving the exact place where the incident has occurred. It also ensures freight integrity from the time the locking mechanism was fitted to the time it is removed.”
And although the device was created purely for shipping containers, other potential uses are already being explored.
Government revenue authorities have expressed interest with view to clamping down on tax evasion caused by companies or individuals not declaring the transportation of transported goods through their provinces, regions or countries.
Guardfreight also believe its system could be used for tackling illegal immigrants, as the operator will know the moment a lock on any trailer or even a curtainside has been breached.
Mr Cressman said: “The trials have gone really well and we are already using the results to effectively market the product to resellers, governments and intermodal freight specialists.
“Customers can buy the E-Containerlock as a one-off purchase or alternatively they can take out a licensing agreement where they pay a monthly fee and then use it as and when is required.
“Every user gets access to our secure online portal, which helps you track the route your consignment is taking and its current status. It fires you immediate text and email alerts if there is an issue and a complete online audit of the shipment integrity is also available.”
He added: “We’ve built in a reverse logistics solution so that each unit is able to easily and seamlessly be repositioned ready for the next trip.
“This is achieved by carrying the necessary documentation and, in some cases the packaging, to make this previously complicated and costly process easy to complete.”
Guardfreight is now aiming to tap into the ‘Made in Britain’ brand after establishing UK supply chain links to manufacture and supply the various components that make up E-Containerlock.