RFID for trucks coming to California ports

PierPass, a nonprofit company owned by marine terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, plans to equip up to 10,000 trucks with WhereNet Corp. RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to enhance security around the trucks entering the two facilities. WhereNet is also installing RFID readers at each marine terminal to read the truck tags as a driver arrives at each port and approaches a security check point, according to a statement from WhereNet.

Marine terminals are required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard to make sure that only individuals who have business at the ports are allowed inside. The terminal operators, who will cover the US$1.2 million cost of the program, are launching TruckTag as part of this requirement, according to the statement. There will be no cost to the truck drivers or trucking companies.

Under the TruckTag program, which is expected to be fully operational by March, PierPass will distribute 10,000 RFID tags to trucking companies through eModal, a database company that tracks trucking companies and drivers. The trucking companies will then distribute the tags to their drivers, said Bruce Wargo, president and CEO of PierPass. When driver information changes, eModal will work with WhereNet to update the database.

When a truck arrives at a terminal, the RFID tag will automatically be read by the electronic reader. At the same time, the driver will insert his commercial driver's license into a machine that will verify that the driver and truck have authorized business at the terminal, Wargo said. Currently each driver displays his license to security personnel when entering a terminal.

"The program leverages the technology used in the WhereNet tags and will be used to ping against the eModal database of known drivers and companies as they enter and leave marine terminals," Wargo said. "Our job is to distribute the tags and administer the program."