IoT and LoRaWAN: The Solution to Cargo Theft Prevention

Discover how Helium LoRaWAN and IoT can prevent cargo theft by detecting suspicious activity. Don’t let stolen cargo hurt your wallet – learn more in this article!

What we address is:

  • Where the cargo thefts happen and what are their consequences?
  • How this problem can be tackled with the use of IoT technology?
  • Why IoT running on Helium is our first choice?
  • How do we help our customer to prevent cargo thefts?
  • What are the other benefits IoT can provide?

Disrupted supply chains are a huge problem

Cargo transportation plays a vital role in securing functional supply chain ecosystem. However, due to the nature of cargo, it often becomes the target of theft attempts or theft itself. The most targeted are goods such as food and beverages, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and home goods. 

Thefts are therefore a growing problem in the logistics industry, causing both material and financial losses and disrupting the seamless operation of supply chains.

Aerial view from drone over cargo in container yard.

The losses can be massive

Criminals often do their work during truck stops or at rest areas. This happens during cargo transit, but cargo can also be stolen from warehouses, distribution centers, and even from ships or containers in ports. 

These losses present damage in millions or even billions. According to RiskIntelligence, in span of 18 months from 2021 to 2022 across Europe, Middle East and Africa cargo thefts were valued at more than €171 million. While in the US, as National Cargo Theft Bureau reported, such thefts resulted in $15 to $35 billion problem.

IoT as a solution to prevent these losses

Possible way to combat this problem is the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Companies can protect themselves against these thefts by using tracking technologies such as GPS trackers or surveillance cameras and secure their cargo with tamper-evident seals. 

In addition, by assigning security personnel to also have supervision over it, they can multiply the protection even more. This way, they stay informed about what is happening with their cargo and can real-time track its location and conditions.

The market offers several possibilities for these security measures. Unfortunately, current solutions are more costly and timedemanding (e.g. those using telematics). For their operation they require more challenging installation which needs cable systems and other devices. It is often quite expensive also due the need of data packages and price of roaming services. Apart from that, this solution leads to stabled vehicle what means time off the road.

A truck parked within the areal of industry parking lot.

Our choice is Helium

Then there is LoRaWAN which offers much comfortable and accessible solution. There is no need to work with any cable management or take the truck out of roads for some time. A solution put in work with a very quick installation, being less expensive and roaming-free with already extensively built-up network thanks to The People’s Network – Helium.

As we strive for expansion and support of IoT technology powered by LoRaWAN network, we helped our customer with protection against potential cargo thefts by installing sensors running on Helium network.

Why exactly sensors powered by Helium? Because of the following benefits, which are:

  • ability to last on battery for years
  • ability to be installed easily anywhere
  • ability to pay based on device usage
  • connectivity without sim cards or fees
  • ability to pool data across devices
  • unlimited data usage
  • no charges for data coverage
  • and the endless use case possibilities

However, if necessary, we can also design a solution using NB-IoT technology.

Use case by Heliotics

Back view on truck entering gateway.

A customer requested us for a solution to secure company’s trucks, and hence secure the transported load. 

Due to the value of transported goods, it is necessary to capture any unconscious intrusion in cargo space, react in time and act in the event of theft.

Freight transport is an important connector between customer and supplier. Trucks transporting cargoes to their final destinations often face various factors which impact the route and delivery time. 

“Ensure smooth running of supply chains by preventing attempted theft in time.”
Project description

Who: Freight transport company – fleet of trucks

What: Monitoring cargo space intrusion and trucks’ location tracking.

Why: Timely detection of theft or theft attempt and trucks’ location.

Where: On the route of the truck, which also includes rests at parking lots, stops at gas stations or any other parking stops during the ride.

When: As soon as cargo space doors are open, or else, when doors security is required.

Several trucks parked in line next to each other.

Goal of this project is to monitor the state of cargo space in case of handling the doors other than by truck driver. 

An authorized worker monitoring the status of loading and unloading of goods also has clear overview about the schedule of a specific truck. And this can help:

  • in detecting any issues with the loading process
  • to notify the next pick-up point about possible delays
  • with the efficiency of un/loading process by tracking its timestamps and duration

In addition, we also install: 

  • temperature and humidity sensors for cargo space
  • GPS trackers
Heliotics app interface preview showing sensor in Volvo truck monitoring of temperature and humidity.
These features bring additional control over transported goods and secure that load arrives in good quality and time. In the event of any suspicious action, operator knows where it happens.

The customer as well as the drivers are utilizing our end-to-end solution – Heliotics app & dashboard – connected with sensors, where alerts (notification via push, text message or email) can be easily created.

It works quickly, what means that when the alert is triggered, almost immediately (within few seconds) the notification is recieved.

Mobile app notification saying Volvo truck doors are open, preview on locked screen.

Let’s watch the video how flawlessly it works.

The map depicts some of the routes our customer made with the trucks. It only shows how great the Helium network already is.
Other implementations
Storage space on truck in-between tires.
Storage Boxes

Our solution is also being utilized within storage boxes where truck drivers often store their personal stuff, tooling or other things. Basically anything needed in case of "emergency".

Sensor for monitoring temperature and CO2 inside a truck cabin, put on the driver's bed.
CO2 in the cabin

On top of that, for comfort of the drivers and with regards to proper driving conditions, we also put a small sensor inside each cabin to monitor level of temperature and CO2. This way drivers can monitor the inside air conditions, properly ventilate the air, and stay fresh on their long routes across Europe.

Ultimately, all the stats and data can be leveraged and exported for more detailed analysis to streamline future deliveries. 

There is more of utility


There are plenty of another options LoRaWAN sensors could offer within transportation, such as monitoring of:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • CO2
  • petrol tank detection
  • axles and shafts friction
  • and GPS tracking
Ship being loaded in cargo port.


Utilization is also possible in other areas, such as:

  • cargo containers at shipping ports
  • ship containers
  • airport container boxes
  • vans and train wagons
  • static warehouse management
  • or basically any vehicle or carrier transporting valuable goods

In conclusion, IoT technology can play an important role in fighting cargo theft. By providing real-time visibility into cargo location and its conditions as well as alerting companies about any suspicious activity, IoT devices can help companies protect their cargo and reduce losses due to theft.

For more on the benefits of LoRaWAN and why we use Helium LoRaWAN specifically, you can read our blog post about how IoT can help in monitoring animals staying outside.

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