Facing increasing air cargo volumes and terroristic threats, efficient security checks for air cargo are needed. The controls must ensure security at the highest level, meet international requirements and be economically viable. In order to simplify control procedures and increase efficiency, new concepts of securing air cargo are required.
The project “Enhanced security for logistics” has the objective to develop new methods for air cargo security checks. In the future, containers and pallets are about to be tested more quickly and reliably for security threats. The concrete aim of the ESecLog project is to check the identity of a cargo freight based on its appearance from the outside and its internal structure on the basis of so-called freight fingerprints and to detect possible manipulations over the course of the air cargo process chain.
For this purpose, various methods, such as an electronic article lockup, 3D depth images and X-ray images, should be used. In addition, multi-scanners for mobile and stationary control, as well as a freight fingerprint information system for matching the scans, are designed. In cooperation with the end-users and authorities, the results are evaluated with demonstrators. Furthermore, audit strategies are being developed for areas inside and outside the airport's security zone. These are examined in a cost-benefit analysis.
The result of ESecLog is a freight fingerprint information system for the safe identification and verification of air cargo shipments. With a combination of different features, an individual freight fingerprint is generated for each package, which can be controlled by the new information system along the entire transport chain from the system entrance, through the warehouse, and the loading into the aircraft.
One of the control features is the RFID seal, which is applied individually to air-freight packages. The RFID seal has two central functions within the framework of the ESecLog concept. First, the package is clearly identifiable by an ESecLog ID (ID) stored on the RFID transponder. Second, the RFID seal has a fuse wire. If the security wire is torn, the affected package must be checked for further security features. Thanks to a contactless RFID reading, the package can be quickly identified and the status of the RFID seal can be checked.
Another important component of the ESecLog concept is the tracking of cargo at the airport apron. The tracking allows the continuous surveillance of the positions of the airfreight pallets and containers (so-called ULDs) on the apron of the airport in order to be able to react accordingly to safety-relevant events, such as leaving valid routes or unscheduled stops. For this purpose the airfreight pallets and containers are equipped with passive RFID tags. These can be automatically identified by reading devices on the towing vehicles and the transport trailers. In addition, a passive radio switch registers a possible opening of a container.
The development of a freight fingerprint information system is an important contribution in order to avoid costly and time-intensive X-ray scans and manual checks. In cooperation with end users, the results of ESecLog are evaluated in the form of demonstrators. New audit strategies for areas inside and outside the security zone of the airport are developed. The ESecLog solution contributes to a significant reduction in the security check effort and to a good integration of the new testing processes into the logistics processes of air cargo. This can significantly increase the security at airports for the ground and air crew as well as the passengers.
Findings of the study are published in detail by several final reports of the project partners (German only) which are available online via the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB):
Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF:
Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH:
Bundesanstalt für Materialprüfung, Berlin:
A short video about the ESecLog project is available via: