CouriersPlease tracks cages through Sigfox network

Couriers

by Steve Rogerson

Parcel delivery company CouriersPlease is using Australian telco Thinxtra’s Sigfox network and Optus LPWAN-based, battery-powered asset tracking.

The aim is to help the courier scale efficiently while reducing instances of lost transportation cages and operating costs amid significant business growth.

CouriersPlease, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Post (SingPost), delivers across Australia through its 850 franchises and 350 delivery partners. As a result of the online shopping boom resulting from nationwide lockdowns, the company has experienced an 80 per cent increase in business in the past two years, and now moves more than 30 million parcels a year.

To support this growth and maintain high services standards for franchisees and customers, CouriersPlease partnered with Optus to implement asset tracking devices connected to the IoT. The devices will be fixed to 3500 cages, providing real-time data for visibility over its national fleet.

“With demand for our services on the rise, we found our transport cages – which can carry between 60 to 600 packages each – were increasingly going walkabout,” said Phil Reid, chief operating officer at CouriersPlease. “They were disappearing due to theft, or simply left sitting in our commercial customers’ facilities, unidentified for return. We have doubled our assets, and that introduces increased risk. As our business continues to expand, it has become crucial we can track their whereabouts in real time.”

He said the move would nullify losses of the expensive cages, which cost $1000 per unit, while allowing the company to keep pace with higher volumes of deliveries.

“We looked at various vendors, including 4G options, and partnered with Optus and Thinxtra as they offered collaborative asset tracking backed by battery powered LPWAN-based IoT sensors, that we don’t need to mess with or replace for years, making it an extremely cost-effective value proposition,” said Reid.

CouriersPlease started deploying Thinxtra’s IoT devices in October, with all units to be installed ahead of an anticipated second peak parcel boom. Once implemented, the devices will send location information from the cages to a dashboard where CouriersPlease can see their location in real time. Every pre-configured Thinxtra device has a battery life of more than five years, eliminating the need for ongoing maintenance – and associated costs – for the lifetime of the sensors.

“There are multiple ways to handle asset tracking, but the main challenge organisations face is doing so in a cost-effective manner,” said Zorawar Singh, head of product at Optus Enterprise. “It doesn’t make sense to put $400 trackers into $1000 cages, nor do we want to overwhelm our clients with huge amounts of data they don’t need. We built an IoT solution based on LP-WAN technology for CouriersPlease, which is connected to Thinxtra’s powerful and national 0G network as we believed it provided the best solution at the greatest value for the customer.”

As part of the company’s goal to expand its use of IoT technology to support its growth, CouriersPlease will extend its use of the Optus to track other parts of the business in the future.

According to Reid: “We are keen to get to the point where we can track individual, high-value parcels and know where they are at any time.”

Nicholas Lambrou, chief executive officer at Thinxtra, added: “By digitalising its delivery services with efficient, low-power sensors connected to the IoT, CouriersPlease is bolstering its rapidly-growing business to support the increasing number of Australians shopping online, while eliminating the risk associated with an expanding set of assets. Through our partnership with Optus, we are enabling real-time visibility for CouriersPlease’s national network so its franchises and delivery partners can ensure high-value cages, responsible for carrying millions of parcels monthly, aren’t left unseen or ultimately lost after transit.”

Thinxtra provides IoT connectivity because it owns and operates the Sigfox 0G network in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.