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DropTag: A Logistics Dream Come True

Have you ever been the recipient of a package that looked perfectly fine on the outside, but the contents were seriously damaged? The first question is, “How is this possible?” The second question is, “Did they package up a broken product without realizing it?” And then comes the hapless declaration distancing oneself from any responsibility or liability. “I am not paying for this!”

This is usually followed by a quick call to the carrier service informing them of the damage status so they can ask the stock question, “Was the outer packaging punctured or crushed?”

After those questions, an inevitable referral to the original shipper is offered, ending with a “heartfelt” apology and “Have a nice day.”

But I have great news! There's a new product, that when released in its final form and function, will perfectly fit our needs. It's called: DropTag.

This is not the sticker or gizmo that is attached to or thrown into the packing carton that turns color if a package is accelerated and comes to a sudden stop. This is a tag that will tell you when in transit the package was dropped. Once you know when, it's a simple matter of tracing the “who,” and then all the innocent bystanders such as I are off the bloody meat hook for damages.

Logistics-Damage Solution

A $2.50 wireless device from Cambridge Consultants can  help identify where in transit a package was dropped and damaged.

A $2.50 wireless device from Cambridge Consultants can
help identify where in transit a package was dropped and damaged.

The When and the Who
Developed by Cambridge Consultants, headquartered in the UK, DropTag uses a battery-powered Bluetooth transmitter with onboard memory and an accelerometer. The accelerometer checks for G-forces above some pre-determined level.

When a package reaches its destination, a Bluetooth connection to the package is initiated via a phone app. The DropTag status is then forwarded to the display on the phone. This product is still under development, currently reporting only a binary output to indicate if the package has been dropped.

Cambridge says it's developing the sensor platform further to log critical event data so that when the DropTag is interrogated, it can provide information on exactly what happened to the package and when. Once the sensor interface and technology is worked out, the tag will be able to transmit other data like changes in temperature.

Here is a potential example: If I order salmon steaks from Alaska, a DropTag will be able to tell me if the temperature went higher than the limit for safe transport guaranteeing zero bacterial growth.

In its final form, the tag will cost about $2.00 to make and will sell for $2.50.

My last mishap was with a rack mounted, 4RU power supply that, when received, had the front panel bashed in and the rack mounting ears twisted. Even if I straightened out the ears and could flatten the front panel, and even if it worked, I had no guarantee that there wasn't some kind of latent damage that would show up via an early failure incident in the field. I could not use this power supply and it was heavier than a boat anchor, but there was no damage to the box.

The mystery went unsolved and the shipper would not take the power supply back. That was about $1,675 down the drain. I would have paid $2.50 for a DropTag without blinking an eye. It would have been a heck of a lot cheaper than paying insurance at $8 per hundred weight.

Unseen damage
I have received packages where the connectors I had ordered were all out of their preformed plastic mold trays and scattered throughout the carton, mixed in with the popcorn packaging material. The pins on many of the connectors were bent and could not be inserted into printed circuit board through-hole patterns. The box looked fine, but somewhere along the supply chain, someone had mishandled the inner packaging, breaking the clear seal cover over the connector trays. Unfortunately, examples like this are numerous.

Handy Device

While not cheap, the DropTag  could save customers thousands  in damage and insurance.

While not cheap, the DropTag
could save customers thousands
in damage and insurance.

The supply chain needs to be monitored 24/7 for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, unreliability, and malpractice. DropTag seems to be one very promising product for resolving some of the ambiguities that arise when people start playing the blame game.

I personally feel like celebrating this breakthrough, as it has the potential to break all of the boney little fingers that point at me, insisting I must carry all the accountability for goods received with no evident package punctures or carton deformations.

Would you be willing to add $2.50 for DropTag on-demand technology on specific and discrete orders that would assure reimbursement cost for damages as a result of handling mishaps? If you could buy a hundred reusable tags for $250.00 with flash memory re-programmability, would you?

It works both ways. If your company is sending an expensive, long-lead time or customized product to your customer, you can employ the tag to prove the damage did not happen before the product was shipped.

Write and tell me if this technology is worthy of your company's consideration.

1 comment on “DropTag: A Logistics Dream Come True

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    March 21, 2013

    Truly , this is something of a really smart solution to the everyday and everybody's problem involved in the logistics.

    Such tags will be better than those seals which only certify that the package has not been opened but do not guarantee whether the inside contents are not damaged.

    With market acceptance the price of such Drop Tags should come down to a few cents a piece i hope.

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