Transforming the Cold Chain

Kansas-based Tiger Cool Express stood the reefer world on its head in 2014 when it launched with an innovative and technology-intensive intermodal offering. When its original telematics solution proved unreliable, it turned to Coretex’s IBRIGHT – and hasn’t looked back.


Over a long career in logistics, Ted Prince has seen just about anything the industry could throw at him. But even he was surprised in early 2014 when a core component of the technology suite underpinning his new business failed from day one. It was the telematics solution, responsible for tracking and controlling Tiger Cool Express’ fleet of refrigerated containers. “It didn’t work,” Prince, Tiger’s co-founder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, says, flatly.

The Situation — Unreliable telematics

“There were problems between the latency of the reporting and the updating. The vendor had very serious server issues – it required 36 hours to process 24 hours worth of transactions. It was also very hard to go in and do queries. “We persisted for a week. It did not appear the system was going to solve itself and the telematics was a key part of our value proposition. We moved on.”

The Solution — Integrated, real time remote fleet management

Tiger, just a week into its market launch with an innovative intermodal business model for the long-haul perishables market, had to move fast. Based on a recommendation from a trusted supplier, it adopted IBRIGHT from Coretex.

Coretex IBRIGHT now maintains the integrity of all 733 Tiger refrigerated containers. It integrates readily with Tiger’s two transportation management systems to provide the company’s operational intelligence – everything from network modeling to execution, accounting and FSMA compliance

Coretex is critical to a business model that relies on precise control of everything from container doors to cargo temperatures and, critically, the synchronization of rail haul and drayage into a lower-carbon, 95 percent-plus on-time door-to-door service. Tiger uses IBRIGHT’s two-way monitoring and control to remotely manage its fleet without the need for an army of operators. This remote fleet management has the effect, says Prince, of removing many of the objections draymen have to doing refrigerated work. “That’s because they don’t need to go back and do things,” he explains. “We can pretrip the container and we can turn it on remotely. The driver doesn’t have to do that.”

In addition, IBRIGHT’s real-time data stream is available to Tiger’s customers, via an interface with its customer-facing TMS. “We offer both a portal and EDI track and trace for our customers, so they get all the benefits of seeing where their shipment is, where it’s going, what the temperature is and what the probes are saying,” Prince says. “It’s a single point of contact for our stakeholders to go in and get the IBRIGHT information.”

“Data harvested by the Coretex units has given us a valuable look at our cold chain performances during transport.”


The Results — Reliability and Business Intelligence

Back in 2014, Tiger’s immediate need was for reliability – a reefer telematics solution that didn’t break down. With only a couple of exceptions, says Prince, that has been achieved and, in his experience, Coretex has “a very high level of service”.

A less obvious benefit is the ability to lift the covers on Tiger’s operations. IBRIGHT shows Prince’s staff exactly where their containers are and that, says Prince, makes all the difference in managing the last mile.

“In the intermodal business, most of the drayage companies have been pretty manual. So the typical thing would be when you’d call the drayman and say, ‘Hey, the appointment is at 10 o’clock. Where’s your driver?’ And they’d say: ‘Oh, he’s right there’. And we can say: ‘No, he’s not. We can see he’s in a rest stop 200 miles away and he hasn’t moved in three hours,’” Prince explains.

“With IBRIGHT, if the tractor is connected to our box, all of a sudden we can see where they both are and we have a much better idea of whether the driver is going to make the appointment or get back to the rail on time.”

The same visibility has helped Tiger spot instances of fuel theft from its containers and has also put the brakes on the abuse by receivers of Tiger’s assets for free storage. “Now you can see when it was turned off, when it was turned on, and when the door was opened and closed,” Prince says. “We’ve had cases when another party has taken our box, unloaded it, put other stuff in it and then taken it 100 or 200 miles away to deliver it. Well, we have rather draconian penalties for misuse of equipment; with the GPS we’ve now got the data and we can bill it.”