Connected tracking services are a dime a dozen these days. They include real-time location tracking services as well as services that provide tracking that’s a little less rapid, sending location data every few minutes or once an hour. There’s a big market in knowing where stuff is at any given point.
With a large market and so many options, it can be hard to stand out, which is why I was interested to see a company called Moeco launch what it deemed as the most sustainable tracking service out there. (It also has a 5G component, for those who like their buzzwords.)
Moeco provides a sensor and tracker combo that tracks real-time location, temperature, humidity, light, and shock data using cellular connectivity, including 5G. The trackers start at $14 and run on a battery. The sensors last for up to a month, but are designed to be thrown away once the shipment being tracked reaches its destination.
These devices are designed to go in shipments of anything that might need special handling. For example, Apple might include them in the boxes it sends to people for packaging up their MacBooks for repair. Or a high-end food shipper might affix a tracker to a box of perishables so the shipper — or the buyer — can track the box’s progress and whether or not the food got too warm en route.
At $14, such a tracker could easily become part of the insurance offered by logistics companies for B2B shipments, and even consumer shipping. Once the item arrives, the tag can be thrown out or partially recycled. Today Moeco’s clients are big companies tracking their own products such as Colgate and DuPont. Rand McNally is also a customer, using the tracker almost as a canary in a coal mine to understand where disruptions in its logistics business might arise
Each tracker contains less than two grams of lithium and can be recycled with plastic waste, according to Moeco’s press materials. Alexa Sinyachova, CEO and co-founder at Moeco, claims that using the trackers and then recycling or tossing them is actually less carbon intensive than sending the tracker back to the original shipper.
She also told me that because of the larger battery required by rechargeable trackers, making them is more intensive. I don’t have the ability to refute these claims, and I do appreciate that Sinyachova said the company focused on recyclability and sustainability while developing its product. However, I also think a tracker that can subsequently be tossed is an easy business model to develop and an even easier sell, which means I cynically think this may be a case of greenwashing.
What I can’t deny is that if we can track shipments and ensure that the first time something gets shipped, it is done so in a manner that prevents waste, that’s all to the good. Of course, monitoring a problem as it occurs and changing the circumstances that led to that problem are two different things.
But I do think if we want to improve something we first have to measure it, so I guess I am excited by a cheaper tracker that can help us monitor shipments for waste and loss.