Monday, February 06, 2006

GE and Siemens to partner on container security device

General Electric's security subsidiary said it has signed an agreement with German conglomerate Siemens to market its security device for detecting unauthorized openings of ocean container doors.

Under the agreement, Siemens' Building Technologies Group will have exclusive marketing and distribution rights in Europe, and will take a minority stake in CommerceGuard AB, the GE Security subsidiary that is developing the container security device. It will also be the preferred company to integrate the product with other systems.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is testing CommerceGuard as part of its Smart Box initiative expected to become the centerpiece of the agency's "Green Lane" effort to eliminate container security inspections for pre-vetted shippers that belong to the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

The partnership is noteworthy because GE and Siemens are two of the largest diversified companies in the world, and compete in areas ranging from industrial machinery and appliances to medical equipment and lighting. Fortune ranks GE as the world's ninth-largest company and Siemens 21st.

Last October, GE Security struck a similar deal with Mitsubishi Corp. to sell, distribute and support the CommerceGuard product to terminal operators, ports, exporters and transportation companies in Japan and Asia.

The GE device magnetically attaches to the inside of the container and uses an electronic proximity sensor to detect and record when the door is opened. Fixed and handheld readers used at ports and other locations can pick up the signal with the identification number and status from the internal transmitter.

GE Security officials say they have corrected problems with nuisance alarms and that the false positive rate now falls well below the 1 percent threshold required by CBP and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

GE Security officials say they are moving ahead with plans to commercialize CommerceGuard, and that the Siemens endorsement indicates there is interest in the product from shippers and carriers with or without approval from CBP.

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