South Korean IoT tech turns boxes into smart containers

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) will offer to install Internet of Things technology on containers to enhance export competitiveness.

The roll-out was announced today, after the ministry completed a two-year container IoT equipment pilot project, involving distributing 4,160 retrofitted containers to local shipping companies.

IoT technologies track the location and status of containers and, in the case of reefers, temperatures.

Subsidies of around $121 for each installation, or 30% of the cost, were provided.

The MoF said when containers were digitised, shipping companies would be able to ascertain the location and status of cargo, creating added value for customers.

Shipping companies can use IoT equipment to periodically provide cargo location, status information and temperature control services to shippers. In addition, conventional accounting standards do not usually recognise containers as assets because they are difficult to locate in overseas ports, but with location tracking, shipping companies can strengthen their balance sheets with these assets.

The ministry’s head of smart shipping and logistics, Hong Geun-hyung, said in South Korea, shipping fulfilled 99.7% of import and export cargo transport, of which containers were an essential element. The government was, therefore, investing in new technologies for the logistics industry to make container shipping smooth sailing, he added.

The pilot project is part of a government $6.6m scheme to develop practical technologies for smart containers, including sensors that can determine if boxes have suffered any trauma or if the doors are not properly closed. It will also explore functions that can automatically adjust reefer temperature. Such technology could maintain reefer cargo in optimal condition and prevent theft.

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