SECURE PACKAGE SYSTEM AND METHOD
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims a benefit of priority based on U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/331,844, filed November 20, 2001, the entire contents of which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference into the present application.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates in general to the field of packages. More particularly, the present invention relates to an improved parcel and delivery method that increases security and decreases the risk of contamination or theft.
2. Discussion of the Related Art
The shipping, transportation and postal service industries as a whole have, for years, been exposed to liability from lost, damaged or stolen goods currently estimated to impact the economy with $54 billion in losses annually. As of the September 11, 2001 U.S. bombing tragedy and following anthrax scare, these industries have scrambled to investigate and develop safety measures to protect parcels and reassure nervous consumers.
The term parcel is defined herein as any package or packaging used for containing, transporting, and delivering goods, documents or media. This may include, but is not limited to: envelope, package, box, shipping tube, shipping trunk, canisters, drums, corrugated box, shipping container or handheld container.
A courier service is defined for the purposes of this document as any entity that receives parcels and delivers them to a destination. A courier service may be, but is not limited to: in-house delivery service, commercial mailing service including Federal Express, United Parcel Service, RPS, etc., a government postal service including the United States Postal Service or the postal service of any foreign government, a local courier service, taxicab service, messenger, limousine service, manufacturers, distributors, broker, shipper, custom agent, consumer, buyer, carrier, supply chain asset provider, third-party logistics company or any company that delivers parcels as a primary or otherwise portion of their operation.
Parcels used in today's economy must be strong to withstand rough handling and provide a high degree of security. A parcel will usually pass through several hands before reaching its final destination. The parcel may, for example, be transported by one or
more courier services and be loaded and unloaded by numerous parcel handlers at two or more air and ground terminals before final delivery. Parcel handlers and others having access to a shipment during transit can usually determine the contents of a shipping container from a bill of lading or a packing slip which may be attached to the container. Theft losses often occur because a thief absconds insecure parcels, which are then readily opened and pilfered.
The disclosures of the below patents in their entireties are hereby expressly incorporated by reference into the present application for at least the purposes of indicating the background of the present invention and illustrating the state of the art. U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,178 to Malloy teaches that a tamper evident shipping container comprising a generally rectangular box formed from corrugated paper board includes a pair of overlapping top closure panels adhered together in sealed condition by multiple strips of pressure sensitive adhesive disposed therebetween and a pair of overlapping bottom closure panels sealed together in a like manner. U.S. Pat. No. No. 4,888,175 to Burton, Jr. teaches an aseptic package of a material susceptible to bacterial or viral infection utilizes a film or sheet of a plastic packaging material having a biocidal agent dissolved or dispersed therein.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,097,306 to Leon et al. teaches locks for transportation trucks are programmable with a keypad and with handheld activators, the activators being programmable by a central system and activators via IR transmitters and receivers. U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,114 to Weisburn et al. teaches the use of packages and in particular a mechanical locking mechanism for a security package to securely hold and display a rectangular-shaped article such as a storage box for recorded media, such as CD's. U.S. Pat. No. 6,265,973 to Brammall et al. teaches the use of a molded transparent thermoplastic housing has a programmable transmitting circuit for transmitting seal identifying serial number, seal location, container identification and other data to a local receiver.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,069,563 to Kadner et al. teaches the use of a seal system is comprised of a custom integrated circuit utilizing a special CMOS gate-array technology that can be utilized so that when interrogated, transmits that state via a 35-bit data word to a seal reader device, allowing remote monitoring and control of containers and expensive goods. Any attempt to tamper with the seal will be recorded in the circuit for later transmittal to the hand-held seal reader/verifier.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,581,978 to Hekal et al. teaches the use of an irreversible tamper evident system for a button closure is provided. The irreversible tamper evident system is provided by a color change system carried by the flexible button portion of the closure.
U.S. Pat, No. 5,885,706 to Bergmann et al. teaches the use of plastic shipping containers to possess static dissipative characteristics thereby reducing, if not eliminating, ESD damage of the parts during shipment of sensitive electronic parts.
Additionally, other current attempts of reducing parcel theft include:
• Better hiring including background checks.
• Implementation of security policies and procedures and conducting more intensive training.
• Installing video camera systems at loading areas.
• Sealing shipping containers with RFID and GPS tags.
• Attaching RFID tags to parcels.
• Using temper-evident tape. Secure Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), airfreight Unit Load Devices
(ULDs), roll cages, pallets and totes which hold and contain the parcels are also being used. Nonetheless, theft of parcels is still very possible.
Despite these efforts, the shipping, transportation and postal service industries as a whole are still greatly exposed to liability from lost, damaged or stolen goods. In reviewing the art mentioned above, one can appreciate that currently there is no parcel or delivery system and method with a sustained-release, antimicrobial and antistatic feature, which also provides tamper resistive security measures to ensure secure parcel delivery in transit, to authenticate access to opening parcels and technologies, and to destroy the parcel or its contents upon unauthorized attempts to open said parcels. Thus, while many have tried, the problem has not been addressed in the same fashion as the present invention.
What is therefore needed is a solution that addresses the security and safety of individual parcels being moved in the daily global supply, distribution and delivery chain.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States, concerns about security have focused primarily on people and places. This focus has seen the rapid implementation of stringent security measures at airports, office buildings, shopping
centers and at major athletic events. However, there is one area that's been a longtime security problem that's just now beginning to get the kind of attention it deserves. Historically, parcel and cargo security has been one of the weakest links in the global supply chain. Because of limited and random security around tens of millions of shipments flowing constantly in and out of global seaports, airports, truck terminals, rail yards and across international borders, the potential for mayhem is and always has been high. Explosives, biochemical agents, lethal chemicals and other weapons all can be shipped or slipped into containers with relative ease and never become discovered. The sheer volume of international cargo traffic renders traditional security measures nearly futile. Every day last year, the U.S. Customs Service reports it processed an average of 38,000 trucks and railcars, 16,000 containers on 600 ships, and 2,600 aircraft. At the same time, it's estimated that just 1-2 percent of inbound containers at seaports are ever opened and inspected.
One indication of how large the problem of cargo security has become, is the sheer amount of cargo that is stolen every year. Cargo theft last year is estimated to be a US $54 billion annually. What is most troubling is the apparent ease with which this larceny is carried out and the lack of information on how these thefts are perpetrated. As valuable shipments are transported around the world, there is very little visibility into how different carriers manage security or where goods are actually stolen. The National Cargo Security Council notes that 85 percent of all business security losses are attributed to the theft or loss of products while in transit.
In general, newer technologies have attempted to reduce these loses through temper-evident features and real-time package and bulk container (Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), air freight Unit Load Devices (ULDs), roll cages, pallets and totes) tracking used by a courier service. Additionally, several companies offer improved sealing techniques which send wireless transmission of unauthorized entry of bulk containers, but not for the packages they contain.
Unlike traditional corrugated parcel packaging which requires no less than a cutting knife to gain access to contents of package resulting in theft, the invention utilizes lightweight yet high-strength plastic and exotic materials which affords high strength and durability and contains a high degree of security technology to prevent against unauthorized entry resulting in significant reduction in losses due to theft.
Presently, parcel packaging does not offer integrated technologies which provide on-the-package biological or explosive contamination detection. Nonetheless, alerts on the inventive secured parcel package reveal possible contamination.
Moreover, the secured parcel package of the present invention is adapted for shipping products and goods of all types by itself as an independent shipping container or in conjunction with traditional non-secure containers or packaging for delivering products, goods, documents or media through a courier service.
The present invention represents an end-to-end logistics security solution where products or goods are placed in secured parcel packaging by a sender (e.g., manufacturers, business, wholesaler, distributors, brokers, shippers, customs, consumer, buyer, carriers, shippers, supply chain asset providers, fulfillment centers and/or third- party logistics companies) from which the parcel originates and remains inaccessible until the parcel is delivered to the intended destination or receiver or recipient (e.g., manufacturers, distributors, brokers, shippers, customs, consumer, business, wholesaler, buyer, carriers, shippers, supply chain asset providers, fulfillment centers, third-party logistics companies, and/or individual addressees). At this point, the receiver or addressee is able to open secured parcel package via a variety of entry authorization requests.
In another embodiment, if a predetermined rule regarding authenticated access is violated, e.g., loss of pressure within the secure packaging parcel, breaking or cracking of the secure packaging parcel itself or unauthorized entry into the secure packaging parcel via a variety of electronic authorization processes, or other unacceptable conditions captured by associated sensor-enabled data-collection systems, such as related to changes in temperature, humidity or bio-chemistry, the contents of the parcel are destroyed or rendered useless.
Similarly, in one other embodiment routing, process and contamination violations may be captured by comparing the actual status of a container with its expected handling procedures and environmental tolerances and using sensors or processes to detect the presence of biological or explosive agents. In this embodiment, the parcel itself and a wireless transmission of parcel data alert the sender, receiver, and inspector or law enforcement agent of violation. These agents then can set aside parcels that have been "mishandled," even if the secure packaging appears to be intact. The secure packaging parcels can be made also environmentally friendly because they are reusable and returnable containers.
The present invention also addresses the unique challenges of managing and securing parcels being handled and moved within a supply chain across multiple modes of transportation. It protects individual parcels and cargo while reducing financial loss due to lost or stolen parcels. This secure packaging and authorized access technology, which protects the physical security of parcels and their contents as they pass through the global supply chains is unique in that it can ensure that all parcels remain secure from point of origin to destination and it provides immediate alerts of any unauthorized tampering or exceptions to defined security processes. The inventive security solution is further enhanced through a common language software translator that enables interoperable "plug and play" functions between a computer platform and various data collection hardware, such as bar code scanners, biometric devices, GPS-based systems, and many other data collection and communication systems. As a result, information captured by these different data collection technologies can be automatically aggregated and leveraged by this security parcel. All parcels being shipped need to also be protected externally from all forms of bacteria, mold, fungi during packaging, in transit from point of origination and final destination and parcel delivery including receipt, opening and retrieving contents of said parcel. Consequently, it is desirable for parcels to possess antistatic characteristics and antimicrobial/antibacterial characteristics thereby reducing, if not eliminating, bacterial contamination of the parcels themselves during shipment. In some cases, it is desirable that such parcels be sufficiently transparent or can be made to allow inspection of the contents without opening the package.
In such embodiments, antistatic and antimicrobial characteristics may be incorporated into parcels by including such antimicrobial and antistatic powders, agents, solutions with the paper, plastic, corrugated cardboard, non-corrugated cardboard,
TYVEK, vinyl, olefin, polyester, PVC, ABS, spun polyester, corrugated plastic, or metal of any type prior to forming the parcels. For example, in some cases volume filling these materials with the antistatic and antimicrobial agents, powder, resin, dispersant, and solvents or by coating the materials or substrate with the antistatic and antimicrobial agents, powder, resin, dispersant, and solvents. This process helps saturate the product with the desired property. The process involves milling together the coating composition comprising antistatic and antimicrobial powders, resins, dispersants, and solvents wherein a relatively stable dispersion is produced.
By "stable" dispersion, it is meant that the dispersion is resistant to agglomeration of the water, bacteria, spores, fungi, mold within the dispersion and that the materials of the present invention retain their antistatic and antimicrobial effectiveness even after heating. Accordingly, it is also the general aim of the present invention to provide antistatic and antimicrobial properties to prevent the attachment of bacteria, mold, fungi and thus prevent bacterial contamination.
Alternatively, a process to coat already formed parcels may be used. This may be accomplished by spraying the coating on parcel or wrapping the parcel in a plastic wrap material. The coating and wrapping contains the anti-static and anti-bacterial properties. It is a further aim of the invention to provide an improved security plastic or paper-based parcel which affords high strength, durability and a high degree of security against unauthorized entry to discourage pilferage.
It is a further aim of the invention to provide an improved security of parcels by pressurizing or depressurizing parcel during parcel preparation at point of origination with an indicator showing loss or gain of pressure, which would suggest tampering. Yet another aim of the invention is to provide an improved parcel of tamper indicating evident or resistive mechanism whereby entry authorization properties prevent theft in transit. In summary, the parcel and method of the present invention provide safe shipping via a courier or postal service by having one or more of the following features; antibacterial or antimicrobial properties, antistatic properties, tamper evident and resistive properties, entry authorization properties, and content destruction properties.
These, and other, aspects and objects of the present invention will be better appreciated and understood when considered in conjunction with the following description and the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the following description, while indicating preferred embodiments of the present invention, is given by way of illustration and not of limitation. Many changes and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof, and the invention includes all such modifications.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A clear conception of the advantages and features constituting the present invention, and of the construction and operation of typical mechanisms provided with the present invention, will become more readily apparent by referring to the exemplary, and
therefore non-limiting, embodiments illustrated in the drawings accompanying and forming a part of this specification.
Figs 1-10 are schematic and perspective views of one embodiment of the invention. Figs. 11-20 are schematic and perspective views of another embodiment of the invention wherein the package contains wires.
Figs. 21-26 various views of another embodiment, which contains a significant third dimensions and added inner compartment protection.
Figs. 27-31 illustrate possible wiring diagrams for top loaded and side loaded packages.
Figs. 32 and 33 each illustrate a safe shipping method of the invention.
In describing the preferred embodiment of the invention, which is illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, it is not intended that the invention be limited to the specific terms so selected and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents, which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose. For example, the word "connected" or terms similar thereto are often used. They are not limited to direct connection but include connection through other elements where such connection is recognized as being equivalent by those skilled in the art. DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
The present invention is a container or parcel that holds goods or documents to be shipped. The container is preferably constructed of lightweight, high-strength plastic and exotic materials to limit direct access. The container also preferably includes an embedded computer and means to enter a pass code to authorize entry into the parcel.
This embedded computer technology may also act as a substitute for a traditional street or P.O. Box address. An added benefit is that this can significantly reduce the likelihood of identity theft.
The pass code may be generated automatically by the embedded computer and used later to gain access. Access to the pass code is only granted after the recipient has passed a predetermined set of authentication rules. These rules may rely on common identifying information, purchase information, biometric testing, etc. Other component parts preferably include a latching mechanism, intrusion detection by pressure transients
or light path interruption, RF communications (bluetooth or other), and a method of rendering documents or contents useless (specialty inks or dyes).
The inventive method provides secure parcel containment of goods and products during shipment within a mail/parcel delivery process or supply chain ensuring that only those receivers or addressees who the parcel is intended for have access to open parcel. Senders may also transmit shipping data to a receiver via Internet through a computer server. The receiver can then authenticate that the parcel package comes from an intended sender. Moreover, upon sale of goods between sender and receiver, the authorized sender and/or receiver may transmit in real-time purchasing data including item purchased, encrypted code, purchaser name and related identifiers (credit card number, address, etc.) to a server.
Thus, this system provides an extra measure of security before attempting final delivery or when accessing contents and combines superior parcel packaging materials with real-time authenticated access upon delivery to the intended recipient. 2. Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments
The present invention and the various features and advantageous details thereof are explained more fully with reference to the non-limiting embodiments described in detail in the following description.
The inventive parcel and package transport system 1 shown in the various embodiments illustrated in Figs. 1-33 is intended to be shipped via a courier or postal service with one or more of the following features; antibacterial or antimicrobial properties, antistatic properties, tamper evident and resistive properties, entry authorization properties, and content destruction resistant properties.
The parcel 1 is preferably made of one or any combination of the following materials; paper, plastic, corrugated cardboard, non-corrugated cardboard, Tyvek, vinyl, olefin, polyester, PVC, ABS, spun polyester, corrugated plastic, Kevlar or metal of any type, although other materials may be used.
Figs. 1-10 show one embodiment of the parcel 1. The parcel's antibacterial or antimicrobial properties 5 are preferably derived from an additive 10 included during the manufacture of the material used to make the parcel. The term microbial or microbe is used herein to describe any microscopic organism including bacteria. Further, these properties are most effective when they occur throughout the volume of the material such that abrasion or damage to the parcel will not alter the effectiveness of said additive. The parcel 1 further includes a first wall 11, a flap 12a connected to the wall, on an opening in
the wall 12b. Alternatively, these additives are applied to at least one of the surfaces 14 (see Fig. 2) of the parcel before or after the finishing of sheet or other goods used to make the parcel.
If the package is constructed of or covered with plastic materials, this can cause problems. For example, high electrical charges on the surface of plastics can cause following problems: risk of electrical discharge causing fire or explosion, handling problems during transport, storage and packing, dust contamination, affecting both appearance and performance of end-products, and risk of electrical shocks to employees working at the machines. Therefore, it may be beneficial to add antistatic properties to the parcel. Additional benefits of internal antistats (besides reducing the build-up of electrostatic surface charges and the danger of fire or explosion caused by the electric charge on the surfaces of plastics), antistatic agents: improve parcel processing efficiency, reduce transport and packaging problems, and minimize dust pick-up.
As best shown in Fig. 3, the parcel's antistatic properties 20 are preferably derived from an additive included during the manufacture of the material used to make the parcel and to have said properties through out the volume of the material such that abrasion or damage to the parcel will not alter the effectiveness of said additive. Again, in the alternative, the antistatic properties are at least applied to the surface of the parcel during the finishing of sheet or other goods used to make the parcel wherein the substance is applied to in a plurality of the surfaces.
Fig. 1 shows an envelope package 1 of the present invention, in perspective view, before being used. The adhesive strip 18 shown by a large black line is covered with a wax paper like strip between the flap 12a and the envelope 1 as can best be seen in the side view shown in Fig. 6. Fig. 2 shows the envelope in an open position ready for the contents to be placed into the interior 16 through opening 12b. The flap 12a simply folds upward as the arrow A shows. Fig. 3 shows the removal of the wax paper from the adhesive strip 18 the arrow B shows the direction to pull. Fig. 4 shows the flap 12a folded into the envelope around the contents such that the adhesive strip 18 is facing the opposing side of the envelope. The flap 12a is then folded as shown by the arrow C. Fig. 5 shows the flap once it has been folded inward; the corner is then depressed as shown by arrow D. A sweeping motion must then be made across the envelope to complete the seal 22.
Figs. 6-10 each illustrate how to use another embodiment of the invention. Here an inward folded envelope parcel 31 with adhesive strip 40 is shown. Figs. 6-10
illustrate a step-by-step procedure of folding the envelope making seal. As can be seen in the illustrations, the flap 38 starts outside the envelope, and adhesive strip 40 is between the flap 38 and the envelope 31. The flap 38 is then folded up and over into the envelope to close it. Figs. 11-20 illustrate an embodiment similar to those shown in Figs. 1-10.
However, in these embodiments parcel 51 includes wiring 62 necessary to have an additional security feature or tamper detector 64 having an LCD alert 60 if the package is tampered with or the interior 66 is accessed prior to delivery.
As best shown in Figs. 11-15, a security mechanism 52 having tamper evident and resistive properties is preferably included in the parcel embodiment shown to prevent unauthorized entry into parcel 51. In this embodiment, an alert signal 55 is sent to the legitimate receiver if unauthorized entry has been attempted or achieved in route. The tamper evident and resistive properties 60 may be any one of or combination of the following: an electronic device with sensing capabilities, contamination detector, rip and tear resistant parcel material, pressurization of parcel before shipping with pressure sensitive device included that is capable of indicating loss of pressurization, heavy duty material construction that resists substantial effort to entry, serial number and/or logo utilizing counterfeit resistant technologies, and an electronic sensing system consisting of conductors covering the entire surface of parcel - any break in the associated circuit would alert said electronic device with sensing. Suitable contamination detectors may be found at www.platypustech.com. These are offered through Platypus Technologies LLC of Madison, Wisconsin.
Fig. 21 illustrates an embodiment, which includes a 9 in. by 12 in. package retention device 71. The package or device 71 shown in Figs. 21-26 has the following important features: reinforcing ribs 74, anti-microbial characteristics 76, a keypad 78 and locking mechanism 80, and a window 82. As shown in Fig. 22, the outside of the device has walls 83 which are reinforced with ribs to take extra punishment while the transit. The device 71 opens and closes like to clam shell. The device has an upper half 84 and a lower half 86 connected by a hinge 88 as best shown in Fig. 24. As shown in Figs. 23 and 25, the container also has a plurality of windows 82a and 82b, which are transparent to allow viewing of the contents contained in the retention device 71. A keypad 78 (shown in Fig. 22) has been added along with a locking mechanism to add security. The receiving party must know the appropriate security code 90 to punch in or enter the keypad before the device can be unlocked and the contents can be retrieved. As shown in
Fig. 26, the keypad 78 and locking mechanism 80 preferably swing an arm 92, which is connected to the main body of the retention device 71 by an arm hinge.
Figs. 27-30 show package 100 having an entry detection circuit 102, which may be used for envelopes or other packages. This detection circuit can be as simple as a battery 103 including a control device 104 and wires 106 or conductivity ink on or in the envelope and a LED. The circuit can be set so that the LED is normally off but when a break in the circuit occurs the LED turns on indicating the envelope has been opened. One advancement could be that an LCD screen 110 which includes a numerical read out for the serial number, date, time of entry and other info could be added as shown. The conductor paths shown in the drawings are designed for both side loading (path 1) and top loading (path 2) envelopes. Different designs are possible since the wires need only to connect to the sides of the envelope.
In other preferred embodiments, the parcel may also contain authorization properties that consist of an embedded computer that controls authorized opening of the parcel. The authorization hardware and software may consist of any one of or combination of the following: fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, key pad entered password, electronic key, electronic communication with a separate device, signature verification, card scan, biometrics, e.g., retina scan, face recognition, or mechanical punch card key. The electronics beyond these systems preferably are any one of or combination of the following; microprocessor, microcontroller, volatile memory, nonvolatile memory, information display, analog to digital converter(s), pressure sensor, temperature sensor, light sensor, IR sensor, strain gauge, force sensor, accelerometer, GPS receiver, RF transmitter or identification tag, cellular telephone communications, wireless networking, blue-tooth networking. The envelopes and packages disclosed herein may also be constructed of existing materials. Some of the antimicrobial-agent containing plastics considered include POLYSEPT, and POLYBLAZ from PolyChemAlloy. On the other hand, some plastics having antistatic properties include POLSTAT and FILMSTAT also from PolyChemAlloy. More can be learned from visiting their website: www.polychemalloy.com. However, other improved plastics and exotic materials may be used for parcel containment.
In another embodiment shown in Fig. 31, an embedded computer 120 is used to control authorized opening of secured parcel package 130. One advantage is that the secured parcel package does not need to include any identifiers on the packaging itself but
instead the inventive technology offers on-time communication and management functions via web and telephony platforms allowing receivers to logon to the sender's or our server/website, enters all relevant personal information including name, address, ph #, Credit Card #, Credit Card security code. The system then searches for matching personal data uploaded by the sender. The receiver is presented with list of packages received and origination/sender identification is provided. The receiver then enters product identification, product description, date and time of purchase from the receipt, as added level of security. Upon entering correct information via the web, the server provides an alphanumeric code to enter which is entered using the up and down keys 133 and 134, the display 135 and the enter key 136, on secure package parcel and gain access to package contents.
The lack of any kind of address labeling allows handheld and inventory control devices and routing/direction sensors used parcel/mail-sorting facilities including conveyances and belts to communicate wirelessly and directly with each packages embedded computer. There is no need for label scanning equipment, which unfortunately requires correct positioning for a label to be scanned. Instead, sorting software and a radio frequency (e.g., Bluetooth) communication system access the embedded computer and retrieve/display origination and destination address information to all computer entry points including but not limited to handhelds, servers, desktop computers and laptops. In this embodiment, the parcel 130 further has content destruction properties 140 that include a self-contained capability of destroying or rendering useless the contents of the parcel in the event that a predetermined rule has been violated. For example, if a seal 145 has been broken.
The parcel 130 is preferably fashioned in a manner such that it is sealed from the passage of air, liquid, vapor, or air borne particles. In this preferred embodiment, this seal 145 is constructed to maintain its integrity during the rigor of shipment via said courier service. Further, the parcel 130 may be constructed such that it is molded or fashioned from a single continuous material thereby eliminating glued or mended edges and enhancing seal quality. In another embodiment, the parcel may be constructed to minimize the size of the opening that goods are inserted in to minimize the associated sealing edge and wherein said sealing edge is fashioned such that upon gluing or fastening the entire edge maintains a seal as aforementioned.
The term "computer" as used herein may simply be a data collection device (e.g., a memory). It may also include a processor with an input/output device.
3. In Use and Operation
Following are descriptions of methods on how the above-described parcels can be deployed. Please note that it is possible to use the abovementioned technology without implementing the end-to-end security and authentication system that the following embodiments describe. These embodiments illustrate systems and methods that provide additional security benefits that would be difficult to implement without the above- described secure parcel technology and these features arise out of the particular application and motivations of the sender and/or receiver.
As shown in Fig. 32, a Corporation has particularly stringent security requirements and in the wake of mail system attacks must implement a secure mailroom. This embodiment allows the Corporation to accurately control what mail pieces and packages are allowed in the facility, minimizing risk to property and life. Corporation notifies all employees and potential origins of shipments that because of heightened security measures only letters and packages that have been previously authorized will be received by the mailroom. All other items will be refused and never enter the facility. In this method, the sender sends a request 220 to send a parcel 100 to an access authentication and ship/receive coordination point 220. The parcel 150 preferably has a data collection device 155, a wireless communications system 165, an entry control device 170, an entry control mechanism 175, an interior 180, and a sensor 185. In the preferred embodiment, this is done through a computer 150 connected to a server 235 on the Internet. The coordinator 220 acknowledges 230 the request to send. An encrypted password is then sent through the coordinator back to the sender. The sender then arms a package entry control device 170 and ships the parcel to the receiving company. A shipping or courier service 240 picks up the package from the sender and transports it to the receiving company. Having already received the request to send from the sender and acknowledged and approved of this request, the receiving company authorizes via computer 260 of the incoming parcel 245 through a server on the Internet through the access authentication and ship/receive coordinator 220. Through a wireless communication system 165 the sender and the receiver may track the transportation of the parcel. The package is then received by a secure shipping/receiving department at the receiver which authorizes delivery and delivers to the addressee within the company. Delivering the package to the sender or addressee is done through the company mail services 250. The addressee accesses a server on the Internet for the entry authorization
code and the disarming of the parcel security measures which have been obtained through the authorized entry 255 using, e.g., encrypted pass code from the sender.
As shown in Fig. 33, a Manufacturer wishes to reduce theft, damage, and gray market activity throughout the supply chain and can offer security benefits of the present technology to all parties that handle its merchandise.
As illustrated in the block diagram schematic of Fig. 33, in this scenario a manufacturer or distributor arms a parcel 270 with no pass code and ships it in a nonsecure container to another distributor or retailer. This is done through a computer system 278 which sends wireless messages to a computer device located on the parcel. The retainer or end distributor then arms an entry control device 272 on the package through a wireless system 280 and the data collection device 274 on the parcel and delivers it to receiver 294. The encrypted pass code is then sent through an access authentication and ship/receive coordinator 286 via a server 288 on the Internet. The retailer then either directly delivers 292 the package to the recipient/receiver or the parcel is shipped via a courier service 290 through transportation channels 282, 284. A recipient computer 296 then accesses a server 288 on the Internet for the entry authorization code and uses the central control device 272 to disarm the package. The entry access mechanism is then set aside to allow interior access. The contents of the package are then safely accessed.