A Bright Idea: Utilities Turning to Satellite M2M and IoT for Smart Grid Visibility

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Smart Grid initiatives are grabbing headlines all over the world:


What’s driving global smart grid initiatives?

How Southeast Asia is innovating with smart grid technology

Smart grid informationBut what does Smart Grid really mean?  The traditional electrical grid is a ‘one way’ system with power going from the grid operator (Utility) to the customer with no feedback loop. The term ‘Smart Grid’ describes a power grid that’s integrated with a computerized, two-way communication network. Power is provided to the customer and feedback is provided on system operation, outages, and electrical use (among many possible parameters) to the Utility and power suppliers. Using this information, operators and suppliers can optimize the performance of the power grid to accommodate peak loads and anticipate problems and service disturbances. In addition, by being aware of how the grid is performing, operators can ensure that small local problems do not become large regional outages.

The power grid is a fundamental infrastructure in modern society and the Smart Grid is a work in progress that takes it to the next level. In fact, there will be several stages in evolving from the traditional ‘dumb’ grid to a mature Smart Grid. The first stage is focused on traditional ideas like adding more wire, installing better grid protection, and improving reliability. The next stages involve integrating information technology and creating the ability to add capacity from non-traditional sources like wind and solar power to accommodate fluctuations in power demand and ensure increasingly reliable and cost-effective service to create a true Smart Grid.

Today, many electrical utilities have implemented equipment to do just that. For example, reclosers1 have been implemented in electrical distribution systems to keep segments of the grid active even after temporary short circuits like when a small tree branch temporarily leans against a power wire in a wind storm. Without reclosers, grid protective equipment would take that segment of the grid offline causing a power failure that would require a crew to come out to reactivate adding to the operational cost of managing the grid. There are many other examples of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) that are installed on the grid that make it more reliable and robust.

smart grid monitoring

Satellite-based monitoring solutions allow electricity distribution companies to ensure proper operation of equipment in areas with limited cellular coverage.

These devices can send information like voltage, power factor, current, and more back to a centralized operations center which is vital to improving the integrity and reliability of the grid. The key is to reliably communicate this information to the operations center.

satellite tracking device kitUnfortunately, there are some serious challenges to reliably getting this information from the source (reclosers and IEDs) to the operations center. Read more ›

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Posted in 4. Oil & Gas / Utilities, 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with: , ,

Moving from AOBRDs to ELDs: The Guide for Carriers and Drivers

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aobrd to eld telematics solutionsDecember 16, 2019 may feel like a long way away, but for truck carriers and drivers using existing AOBRDs to comply with the ELD mandate,  time will surely fly by.

On that date, the final phase of the ELD Mandate will kick in. Carriers with existing AOBRDs can continue to use them until then but, from that point, carriers that fall under the rule must move from using AOBRDs to use certified and registered ELDs or face operational, financial and safety scoring penalties.

When preparing for this transition, many fleet executives see technology as the highest priority for change. However, the technology that allows AOBRDs to change to ELDs is straightforward for the most part. AOBRDs can be updated via over-the-air software updates, as long as the hardware is ELD ready.

Instead, the real challenges are expected to come in the non-technology processes and procedures, which will affect almost all areas of carrier and driver workflows—from safety and compliance to driver training, dispatch, shipper and receiver relationships, right down to the driver’s daily routine in the cab. Drivers have more control over their own RODS but also new responsibilities to account for their activities. Fleets must adjust also, from helping drivers to deal with a lack of parking before their hours run out, to identifying tardy shippers who delay drivers unnecessarily at the dock. Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , ,

Fleet Safety Takes Center Stage at the National Private Truck Council Conference

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aobrd to eld telematics solutionsThe National Private Truck Council (NPTC) annual conference drew more than 180 exhibitors and 1200 attendees who gathered in Cincinnati last week to learn about the state of the industry and share insight with peers and subject matter experts on how to overcome new and existing challenges. Over the course of three days, participants were treated to a series of networking events, interactive workshops and roundtables, educational sessions and an exhibition showcasing some of the latest products and services available to the trucking industry.

Many of the formal (and informal) discussions at NPTC revolved around fleet safety and what companies can do to ensure that every single employee returns home safely to his or her family, every day. According to Greg Molloy, Group Safety, Health & Environmental Sustainability Leader for Nestle USA, accident reduction is no longer good enough—one accident is one too many—which is why companies like Nestle are constantly in pursuit of perfect safety records. Drivers want more than compensation, said Molloy, making a case to improve the overall quality of life for drivers on the road, to improve driver satisfaction, recruitment and retention.

fleet safety for nestle

Private fleets like Nestle’s are constantly in pursuit of perfect safety records.  Accident reduction is no longer good enough. 

Road collisions are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the United States. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 2,000 occupational motor vehicle deaths occur every year, accounting for 30 percent of the total number of fatalities from occupational injuries. Driving a truck, says Forbes, is one of the deadliest jobs in America ranking at number seven, reinforcing why safety needs to be a top concern for any for-hire and private fleet operator. Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , ,

Top Telematics Resources You Should Bookmark Today

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aobrd to eld telematics solutionsFor the most reliable and informative online resources pertaining to transportation telematics, here is our list of blogs and websites to bookmark today. Covering everything from telematics-related news to articles on fleet management, compliance, fleet safety and more, these resources provide valuable collective insight into how technology is driving change in transportation. Read on for our picks, in no particular order: Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation, 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with:

AIS Data Helping Track Fisheries’ Global Footprint

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ais data advantagesAccording to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are approximately 38 million fisherman or fish farmers in the world, and fishing and aquaculture provide direct and indirect employment to over 500 million people the world over. In fact, fishing is the most widespread means by which humans harvest natural resources.

Given the importance of fishing to the global economy, the better this sector is understood, the better we can ensure the resource is available for future generations. This is an objective of the paper, “Tracking the Global Footprint in Fisheries”, by Global Fishing Watch in collaboration with their research partners and recently published in Science.

The paper analyzed billions of AIS messages provided by ORBCOMM to develop insights into the global fishing industry. Global Fishing Watch and their partners took advantage of new technology and creative use of data sources to identify over 70,000 commercial fishing vessels, the sizes of and engine powers of these vessels, what type of fishing they engaged in, and where and when they fished down to the hour and kilometer. This new global view of fishing takes advantage of advances in satellite technology and big data processing and opens a new window to improved ocean and fishery management.

ais data showing global fishing activity

New research by Global Fishing Watch, aided by ORBCOMM AIS data, reveals when and where fishing occurs on a global scale for the first time, expanding opportunities for marine conservation and ocean management.

Read more ›

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Posted in 3. Maritime / AIS Tagged with: , , ,

Telematics Helping Private Fleets Tackle Industry Challenges: 5 Hot Topics Ahead of NPTC 2018

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Free e-Book: Distracted DrivingDriver turnover of more than 80% at some for-hire fleets? 22% increases in spot rates in the last year? It’s a good time for corporations to own a private truck fleet. A huge competitive advantage in the current market, private fleets are a critical in-house competency which protect companies from some of the challenging conditions the transport market is experiencing.

This week, private fleets are gathering to review best management practices and model benchmarking standards. The 2018 Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition of the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) takes place in Cincinnati from April 29 to May 1, 2018.

On the agenda, there are challenges common to all fleet types: driver scarcity, rising fuel prices, ELD regulations and driver safety challenges. Not surprisingly, technology will play a significant role as the solution to many of these themes but five hot topics to be discussed can benefit specifically from telematics: Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , , ,

ELD Mandate Update: FMCSA Announces ELD Violation Severity Weights

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e-log solutionThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced the violation severity weights that apply to CSA scores as a result of ELD violations. The figures show the exact score that will impact carrier safety scores in the Safety Measurement System since the start of the ELD deadline on April 1.

The FMCSA posted the details on the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) website earlier this month. The body that governs road safety across North America says that the violation scores only apply after April 1, when the hard deadline kicked in. There is no retroactive application of these points.

With this update, the severity weighting now ranges from seven points for failing to provide supporting documents in the driver’s possession upon requests, to one point for failing to manually add location description, failing to maintain ELD user’s manual or instruction sheet. The violation severity weight for operating a CMV while ill or fatigued is 10.

The full list of violation severity weight is here and detailed below: Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: ,

Heavy Equipment Telematics: Driving Growth Through Technology

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As we pack our bags and get ready for INTERMAT 2018 in Paris, it’s a good time to take a step back and think about the wider challenges that the heavy equipment industry will be discussing at the exhibition.

FleetEdgeAt first glance, the industry trends look healthy. Average annual growth in the global construction market is set to reach an estimated US$17.5 trillion by 2030. This brings with it many opportunities but also a host of challenges for heavy equipment OEMs, fleet owners and rental companies. In every region of the world, the construction industry needs to deliver on ambitious and far-reaching development objectives – increasing urbanisation, the expansion of city regions, energy infrastructure and environmental protection.

In addition to these pressures, competition remains fierce and margins can be thin. In this competitive environment, targets are ambitious and there is a need to deliver quality – of equipment, of project management and, above all, of service. For example, some industry participants are talking about their ambitious “Triple Zero” target – zero emissions, zero downtime and zero accidents.

Delivering visibility, reducing costs

A revolution is happening in productivity and technology that is affecting all areas of our lives, and the heavy equipment sector is no exception. Telematics can help industry participants to deliver on their goals by enabling benefits in three core areas:

  1. Gaining full visibility of their assets to prevent loss or theft;
  2. Driving revenue growth by maximising asset utilisation, and;
  3. Providing the data to enable preventive maintenance, which can help avoid equipment unexpectedly (and expensively) breaking down.

heavy equipment rental marketHow does telematics deliver these benefits exactly? Satellite IoT technology can now deliver complete visibility of industrial assets operating in remote areas, allowing for remote monitoring and control of fixed assets. For example, the technology can create mining vehicle reports that include engine run hours, utilisation reports, engine data and tyre monitoring. Telematics can even help device owners detect when brake performance is deteriorating, helping companies to stick to their “zero accidents” pledges.

These reports can help fleet owners and other industry participants to put in place predictive maintenance systems, where insight gained from analysis of existing data can be integrated into a service programme to help predict the failure of a particular heavy equipment part. This allows repairs to take place before a breakdown happens, thereby avoiding lost revenue. The analysis can also look in more detail at utilisation and identify, as an example, if drivers are pushing their machines too hard or overloading them, which could create safety issues. Data produced by equipment telematics can also benefit the environment by reducing fuel consumed by idling equipment and making sure work is being done as efficiently as possible, identifying drivers who are wasting fuel (supporting the “zero emissions” aim).

construction equipment big data

Predictive Maintenance, based on predictive analytics, detects possible failures ahead of time to take corrective action at the right time, to avoid unscheduled maintenance and unplanned downtime.


Data analytics: A new paradigm for the heavy equipment industry

Data analytics has more to offer than just preventive maintenance. Greater productivity and better utilisation of assets is a compelling proposition for all participants in the supply chain. Our mission, and the mission of our customers, is to find information patterns that will improve their workflows and business models, delivering valuable return on investment. For example, telematics data can lead to more accurate job costing and estimates, allowing industry participants to submit more competitive bids and avoid unwelcome surprises further down the line.

This helps to explain why, in addition to the growth forecast in the construction industry, a new market report forecasts that the global telematics in heavy equipment market is expected to reach a value of US$6.5 billion by 2025. The market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 15.1% during the forecast period from 2017 to 2025. ORBCOMM intends to be at the forefront of that growth.

Heavy equipment solutions that deliver insight and control

ORBCOMM will be showcasing a number of developments at INTERMAT, including an enhanced fleet management solution for the heavy equipment industry that includes additional features and functionality for its asset tracking device and FleetEdge web platform. We have a wide range of market leading cellular and satellite modems and devices that delivers unique visibility and actionable data. Come to Hall 5A Stand L 057 to find out more from our team, or check out our website.

Our heavy equipment management technology stands out for three reasons:

  • It has been built by a team that understands the heavy equipment industry and can develop products that are hardwired to work according to the needs of the industry.
  • We produce technology that is easy to customise or rebrand and which can work specifically for OEMs, by allowing them to control how much information they share with fleets or rental companies.
  • In a complex and fast-moving industry, we understand the need for simplicity, creating simple interfaces that are easy to customise.

Heavy equipment solution

This is all backed up by a technical, commercial and operational team that is available wherever and whenever you need us.

If you are attending Intermat, be sure to schedule a meeting with us (we still have a handful of slots left) or drop by Hall 5A Stand L 057 to discuss the latest technologies that can help the heavy equipment sector drive increased visibility and greater efficiencies. You can also get a sneak preview of some of our latest satellite and cellular devices, developed specifically for the sector.

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Posted in 2. Heavy Equipment Tagged with: , , , ,

Tachograph Rules: What European Drivers and Hauliers Need to Know

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live tachograph data“How long can drivers legally work in a day?”

“What vehicles require a tachograph?”

“What are tachograph regulations? What are tacho breaks?”

These are just some of the Google search terms used around tacho and tachographs. It shows that while HAU drivers and hauliers may well be familiar with the broad tachograph legislation, there are plenty of nuances and country differentiations to consider.

tachograph trends

Image via Google Trends, worldwide search for “Tachograph” over 12 months.

Although European and International tachograph regulations have been in place for decades, new entrants to the trucking market and even veterans still have questions. Here we take a closer look at the regulations across the EU and how international and domestic rules work hand-in-hand.

European Tachograph Rules Combining Domestic and International Rules

tachograph rules in truckingThe EU regulations underpin truck safety campaigns and rules at a national level.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) have a defined set of base rules that govern working hours. These rules govern the working hours and outline daily and fortnightly driving times as well as rest breaks. The objectives of the rules include improving road safety by reducing driver fatigue, avoiding competitive driving and improve working conditions for drivers within the EU.

The common rules of Regulation (EC) no. 561/2006 cover driving times for road haulage and passenger vehicles. It encompasses international and national journeys, over long and short distances, employees and self-employed and drivers for their own account and for hire and reward.

The rules are measured using a tachograph. Tachographs collect driving time, speed and distance and are used to make sure drivers and employers follow the drivers’ hours rules.

The rules that apply to drivers in the EU include:

These rules are part of an international and national effort in creating awareness and ensuring a continued road safety emphasis across the region. In addition to European rules, many EU countries have their own national rules and campaigns.

Adhering to two sets of tachograph rules can be complex, as drivers and carriers need to negotiate both. For example:

  • (EC) 165/2014 is a requirement for digital tachographs in vehicles over three-point-five tonnes total weight, including the trailer.
  • (EC) 561/2006 defines rules for drivers of vehicles which fall under 165/2014 regarding Shift-, Work-, Drive- and Rest-time.
  • 2003/88/EC non-enforceable EU Working Time Directive.
  • All members of the EU must incorporate the directive into their national legislation. This can lead to several different interpretations being enforced across the EU. 2002/15/EC takes precedence over relevant provisions of the basic Directive 2003/88/EC on working time because it contains more specific provisions.

The main EU rules on drivers’ hours state maximum driving hours of:

  • Nine hours in a day; this can be exceeded – up to 10 hours – twice in a week.
  • 56 hours of driving in one week.
  • 90 hours over any consecutive two-week period.

The tachograph rules also govern rest breaks and obligations of drivers who must take:

  • At least 45 minutes of a break for every four and a half hours of driving. This can be a single 45-minute break, or a single 15-minute break and a 30-minute break.
  • An unbroken rest period of 45 hours each week.
  • At least one 45-hour rest and on 24-hour rest in any two-week period.
  • A weekly rest after six consecutive 24-hour work periods.

How Do Tacho Rules Differ Across Europe?

Here’s a look at how the legislation differs in some European regions:

Tachograph Regulations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland

The Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) carries out inspections onsite and at the roadside. These are in cooperation with transport authorities and the police to ensure compliance with national and international legislation and regulations.

The rules specific to Germany include:

  • FPersG / FPersV transforms the above EU legislation and regulation into binding German law. National legislation might be stricter than the EU basis.
  • 2003/88/EC non-enforceable EU Working Time Directive. All members of the EU have to incorporate the directive into their national legislation. This leads to several different interpretations being enforced across the EU.
  • ArbZG (21a) German law which incorporates 2003/88/EC. 21a is specifically addressing workers which fall under (EC) 561/2006.

France Drivers’ Hours Rules

In France, as with other EU countries, there are two key areas of legislation: EU Directives and National French Laws. French rules are unique and complex for several reasons including:

  • Drivers’ wages must be based on the hours read from the tachograph.
  • There are additional rules, such as the principle of service time.
  • “Availability time” is strictly counted as work which impacts on potential working hours and drive time capacity.

French law contains further regulations around labour rules, night hours, overtime and travel expenses:

  • g. Work time, Decree 83-40 “Short distance driver “, “Parcel services driver”.
  • g. French “Aubry II” Law of February 1st, 2000.

Driver’s Hours Rules in Great Britain

In Great Britain, it remains to be seen what part Brexit will play on national legislation. However, one thing is likely: a continuing focus on keeping roads as safe as possible. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) sets the rules on Great Britain’s (GB) drivers’ hours and tachographs for goods vehicles in GB. Within Great Britain, either UK domestic or EU rules apply.

Drivers are obliged to use a tachograph if the vehicle comes under EU or AETR rules.

Great Britain’s driving limit includes the following:

  • No more than 10 hours in a day on a public road. No more than 10 hours a day off-road if it’s outside of duty time.
  • Drivers cannot be on duty for more than 11 hours in any working day.
  • Drivers must follow GM domestic rules of 10 hours in a day. If driving in the EU, a driver must follow all EU driving limits.
tachograph application

ORBCOMM’s FleetManager enhances compliance with tachograph rules and working time legislation, and improves driver performance, fleet safety, efficiency and productivity.

Tachograph Rules Beyond the EU

For journeys outside the EU, where the countries are signatories to the AETR, drivers are subject to AETR rules. For journeys that are partly in the EU and partly in countries that are neither in the EU nor AETR signatories, EU rules apply to the journey portion in the EU. Countries outside either the EU or AETR are likely to have their own regulations around driving hours that should be adhered to.

The Future of Tachograph Beyond 2018

In January 2018, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre released the European’s 60 Stories for the 60th Anniversary, a document that gives a timeline and a story that is deemed of relevance to EU citizens. JRC Senior Scientist Jean-Pierre Nordvik said: “Safer transport involves hidden technologies as well as fancy driver aids.”

While not everyone will agree with the description of a tachograph in that way, it’s clear that the digital tachograph is a fundamental element in enforcing European social legislation for professional truck drivers” and is now deployed in more than 50 countries.

There are a lot of elements to understand for drivers, hauliers and anyone associated with tachographs. The elements increase as borders come into play and pan-European transportation increases.

As reliance on technology increases, tachographs continue to change and innovate. Smart tachographs are the next phase of evolution and will be mandatory by June 15, 2019.  The new generation will feature advanced digital technologies, like satellite position and short-range communications, automatic reading of journey times and deliver remote access.

Hauliers can rely on ORBCOMM’s Tachograph solution to ensure up-to-date compliance with national and international legislation. To learn more, contact us at  



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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , ,

The Future of Industrial IoT, Satellite M2M and Telematics

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Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) Member Interview | John Stolte: Executive VP of Technology and Operations, ORBCOMM & MSUA Board Treasurer

Catherine Melquist (President, MSUA):  It was great seeing you at MSUA’s awards luncheon during SATELLITE18 and I appreciate you taking time for a Mobility News interview. 

Let’s start by first talking about you.  As a senior leader at ORBCOMM, what part of the business do you focus on and what industry changes are having the greatest impact on what you do? 

John StolteJohn:  I lead ORBCOMM’s Technology & Operations group, including the development, launch and operation of ORBCOMM’s second generation satellite constellation as well as ground infrastructure development and support, customer access portals and corporate-wide information systems. I think that the proliferation of IoT technology and solutions across a diversity of new vertical markets, geographies and applications along with a greater focus on services offers many opportunities for ORBCOMM to continue to take the lead in developing disruptive industrial IoT technology – from devices to applications to analytics. In addition, customers are looking for seamless access to network connectivity. They simply want to use the best network or combination of networks to meet their requirements for geographic coverage, regulatory authorizations, the fastest service, and the largest message payloads. ORBCOMM offers the most comprehensive offering of network services, including three satellite networks and seven terrestrial networks for global message delivery to meet all of our customers’ needs.

Catherine:  Thinking now from the company’s perspective, how does ORBCOMM view the changing marketplace and what does it mean to your business overall? 

John:  ORBCOMM began as a pioneer in M2M communication technology over 25 years ago. Long before the Internet of Things became a common term, we were connecting enterprise assets. Today, we offer the broadest array of industrial IoT solutions from individual components to full end-to-end solutions and have more than two million subscribers on our networks. We believe this not only reflects the overall global growth in IoT adoption but also ORBCOMM’s expanded market penetration and widening geographic reach in this space.  As a technology leader and innovator, we continue to be inspired by the changing marketplace and the global adoption of IoT and are committed to developing best-in-class solutions that transform how our customers operate their business and stay connected to their assets.

Catherine:  Thinking about IoT, what customer markets do you target and what are their typical use cases?

John: ORBCOMM is focused on providing solutions that connect businesses to their assets to deliver increased visibility and operational efficiency. We have a diverse customer base including premier OEMs, solutions customers and channel partners spanning transportation, supply chain, warehousing and inventory, heavy equipment, maritime, natural resources and government. Typical use cases range from freight transportation monitoring, cold chain compliance and refrigerated asset monitoring to fleet management, driver safety, and cargo security systems. We shipped an astounding 336,000 devices in 2017 and have completed some of our largest deployments to date for world-class industry leaders such as JB Hunt, Oshkosh/JLG and AT&T in support of the United States Postal Service.

Catherine:  Do you see these use cases evolving and data usage increasing?  If yes, how so?

John:  Once our customers see the level of data and insights they can access through our IoT solutions, they are always looking for more data.  Many of our customers will start off with a need for simple tracking and location capabilities for their assets but will quickly take advantage of a wide range of value-added services and analytics that enable monitoring of fuel consumption, temperature, driver safety, and much more.

Catherine:  Do you see a convergence between telecom and satellite?  How about for ORBCOMM solutions? 

John:  We’ve already experienced a merging of terrestrial and satellite communications.  Many of our current solutions are dual-mode, which provides terrestrial and LEO/GEO satellite services when not in terrestrial coverage, enabling the best of both worlds in cost-effective and reliable fleet management and industrial asset tracking. Plus, all of our network services are managed in one place through our versatile ORBCOMMconnect service delivery platform…  

Read the full interview at 

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Posted in 1. Transportation, 2. Heavy Equipment, 3. Maritime / AIS, 4. Oil & Gas / Utilities, 5. M2M/IoT Trends, 6. Networks Tagged with: , ,

ORBCOMM is a single source provider of multi-network connectivity, leading edge devices and powerful applications for industries including transportation and distribution, heavy equipment, oil and gas, maritime and government.
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