Food Surplus Management demonstrates efficiency of CNG-powered vehicles using ORBCOMM data

Irish company proves the efficiency and low maintenance costs of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles on its journey to a more sustainable fleet.

The company

Food Surplus Management (FSM) found the right fit with ORBCOMM to support its move to a more sustainable fleet using compressed natural gas as a proven and reliable alternative to diesel or petrol. As an after-market, mixed-fleet telematics provider, ORBCOMM was ideally positioned to provide a comprehensive and trusted system for comparing fuel savings and freight emissions across CNG- powered vehicles and a wide range of different makes and models of trucks.

Irish-owned FSM specialises in sustainable food waste collection, taking short-date and out-of-date food waste from retail, food, manufacturing and hospitality centres for recycling at its custom-built facilities. With over 15 years of experience, FSM provides a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to landfill. FSM is a company with strong environmental credentials. With sustainability at its heart, the company was one of the first in Ireland to use compressed natural gas to fuel its fleet, as it searched for a cleaner, more affordable and proven choice for its fleet. The potential for using gas for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is to reduce C02 emissions from 7% to up to 23% over diesel* depending on drive cycles and payload.

The challenge

In 2017, Gas Networks Ireland, which owns and operates the country’s natural gas network, launched the first CNG Vehicle Fund to support businesses adopting the new technology. The initiative aimed to show the viability of CNG as an alternative to diesel. In addition to introducing high capacity fast-fill CNG stations across Ireland, the project included a subsidy scheme for the purchasing of new vehicles.

FSM was one of the first haulers to apply and purchased three Scania trucks powered by CNG as part of its fleet of 32 vehicles that operate nationwide. Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management, explained that one of the main reasons that FSM got on-board with the initiative was that it aligned with its company values. “In our business, we collect food waste. The food goes for anaerobic digestion, which is the production of biogas, biomethane. CNG was an obvious fuel for us,” said Lord.

To monitor the performance of its CNG vehicles against the rest of its fleet, FSM turned to its telematics system for data. FSM had switched from another provider to ORBCOMM telematics in 2018 and uses it to enhance the visibility of their trucks, drivers, and workflow, to improve driver behaviour on the road and save money on fuel and maintenance.

Lord sees ORBCOMM telematics as mission-critical for his fleet. “We switched over more than two years ago. We have the whole fleet there. We’re tracking everything. We use vehicle management, driver management, tachograph, the whole suite of reporting. Our transport manager and transport staff use it quite a lot.”

With the detailed information available through the ORBCOMM system incorporating maintenance, fuel burn information and driver performance scoring, it was the perfect partner for the CNG initiative.

The solution

The fuel savings offered by gas-powered trucks was a big reason for Lord and FSM to get involved and the initial results are promising. Lord says, “From a monitoring point of view, from the ORBCOMM system, fuel is probably what we watch most. It is also useful for maintenance planning and obviously for routing. We can see where the trucks are.”

Using ORBCOMM telematics to monitor the trucks’ fuel usage, Lord says the results speak for themselves. While fuel economy in diesel and CNG trucks were on a par, the savings on the lower costs made CNG a viable alternative.

“Fuel is an overhead. Gas is around 70 cents while diesel is in the 90s. There’s a 20% plus saving in fuel which is substantial. If you have that across the board, it’s a no-brainer”.

– Niall Lord, Managing Director of Food Surplus Management

FSM has been carefully monitoring the vehicles’ performance during the trial period, with a close eye on ORBCOMM dashboards to watch fuel and maintenance. Lord says, “There is definitely a saving in running costs. They run a very clean engine, we’ve had little or no mechanical problems with the vehicles either, which is huge. It’s important that trucks don’t have much downtime and the CNG-powered gas trucks have little or no downtime.” The company has had success with the pilot programme of three trucks. “I would absolutely recommend it. The fuel economy in the trucks is on par with diesel; they are very efficient.”

The future

As one of the first companies in Ireland to operate CNG vehicles, FSM wants to convert the whole fleet as soon as the refuelling rollout allows. For his fleet to convert fully, Lord says they’ll need a larger number of fuelling points. Without that, he says it will be challenging to grow the use of CNG trucks. When there is a full rollout in place, it will be the obvious choice to transition to a fully CNG-powered fleet. Lord says a switch to gas-powered trucks is a win-win situation. He says it is definitely a viable alternative to diesel. “The trucks work great. There’s nothing to prove technology-wise, with the vehicles themselves or the fuel economy they deliver.

Ready to unlock data-driven insights within your fleet? Schedule a demo with our team today.

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

Master Midsize Fleet Maintenance with Trailer Telematics

red truck on road during daytime

Small and midsize fleets have plenty to be concerned about when it comes to maintenance in 2021. With the opportunity to buy new trailers in short supply well into 2022, small and midsized fleets can expect to have to wait their turn until larger fleets receive their new trailer orders.

On the flip side, existing trailers are at risk of being furloughed due to component shortages, which have thrown a wrench into getting replacement parts. Other external factors are also at play. As a result of the demand for home and business Amazon-style delivery, trailers are experiencing increased wear and tear due to frequent trips during last-mile delivery and may require more frequent servicing. When combined with COVID-19 protocols limiting technician-driver interactions and the ever-present goal to improve fleet uptime and CSA scores, all of this makes for a challenging time for midsize fleet maintenance. 

The result is twofold: the health of the existing trailer pool has become a priority and assets will have to be kept for longer than anticipated before being traded out. When you consider that the trailer pool of a smaller-size fleet is typically older than that of larger fleets, the challenge to keep trailers on the road for longer is compounded.   

How Trailer Telematics Can Help 

Finding ways to keep trailers healthier for longer can alleviate some of the pressure that maintenance managers and their crews are facing. Trailer telematics is a natural ally for fleets of all sizes, but especially growing fleets. Since they sometimes lack the capital or lease financing available to larger businesses, each trailer needs to be used more efficiently and endure longer than assets owned by enterprise-size carriers. This is where trailer telematics data can shine. For instance, maintenance managers can employ shorter servicing intervals based on real-time odometer readings , or they can use alerts and notifications to schedule servicing dates that won’t be missed. If drivers have in-cab devices, electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) can close the loop between drivers and the maintenance team–a gap that has grown wider with COVID–to ensure that the shop is receiving diagnostics information earlier and can therefore proactively order parts. 

Here are three ways that maintenance crews for small and midsize fleets can leverage trailer telematics: to reduce roadside service calls, limit CSA violations and increase fleet uptime. 

Limit Roadside Service Calls 

Midsize fleet technician working on truck.

For every broken trailer, there’s typically a previous repair that could have been done to keep the asset on the road. Resolving a trailer component malfunction in the shop is much better than fixing one on the shoulder of a highway.  Trailer telematics data can simplify diagnostics, one of the cost-intensive and time-consuming parts of servicing used trailers. Rather than going through a component checklist to determine where the issue is, technicians can rely on automated fault code detection to skip troubleshooting and start repairing, clearing the shop quicker and getting assets back on the road faster. This doesn’t eliminate the need for pre- and post-trip inspections; if drivers have access to a DVIR, they can leverage a closed loop with shop technicians, helping maintenance leaders keep a digital record of each trailer to prevent missed repairs resulting in roadside calls.  

While there are numerous reasons for truck breakdowns, tires are a common culprit. Real-time visibility into the wear and tear of tires, brakes and other components enables real-time condition monitoring and alerts that can help crews proactively repair trailers before they break down, cutting back on trailer downtime and optimizing fleet uptime.  

Reduce CSA Violations 

Did you know that over 70% of this year’s CSA violations were from maintenance or service problems? Excessive fines can not only put repair crews in the doghouse with fleet managers, but it also hurts a fleet’s safety reputation, as it’s a clear indication that potentially unsafe assets are being put into rotation.  

Trailer telematics can play a role in reducing these violations by providing real-time visibility into lighting, brakes, tires and other components that are known to be usual suspects during roadside stops. Often, many of the issues reported would have been easily preventable with proactive trailer maintenance programs in place. 

Lights remain the top culprit for vehicle-related offenses, with 28% of total violations. Often this is a result of broken or missing lights that were missed by service technicians but can be quickly recognized with light-out detection. Brakes are also a frequent offender, with over one million violations just last year, including over-worn brake pads and faulty brake hoses and tubing. By using sensors, fleets can receive real-time alerts when brakes reach a certain level of wear, enabling technicians to schedule trailers for service before an emergency or roadside stop occurs.  

The third most common issue stems from tire violations, which account for 11% of the overall share of service-related incidents. Tire pressure monitoring systems can enable technicians to monitor pressure and temperature remotely, bringing more intelligence into their maintenance strategy. After all, being alerted to a low-pressure tire makes it much easier to deal with and more cost-effective than replacing a blown tire. 

Improving Fleet Uptime 

Boosting fleet uptime using trailer telematics data.

Maintenance managers will be the first to tell you; if a truck isn’t on the road, it isn’t earning revenue.  Fleet downtime is an important part of the equation for fleets of all sizes, and something that maintenance crews spend lots of time and effort in optimizing. However, for small to midsize fleets lacking an abundance of assets ready for deployment at the drop of a dime, downtime can be devastating, resulting in missed deliveries, inactive drivers and surprise expenses.  

Trailer telematics data can bring further intelligence into midsize fleet maintenance programs without further investment in labour and resources. Not only do location reports allow for easier routing and asset tracking, but they can also inform dispatch and the maintenance team of where a broken trailer is so another can be sent to continue the delivery. Plus, understanding the location of a trailer in need of service can help dispatch direct the driver to the nearest maintenance shop. The time it takes for a trailer in need of repair to reach technicians can be the difference between a quick fix and irreparable damage to the asset resulting in immediate replacement. 

Replacing static date-based maintenance scheduling with data-based scheduling —that is, mileage information collected from trailer telematics—can help provide a fuller picture of when a trailer may need to be in the shop for repairs. A trailer that has carried more weight – or completed more miles overall than another trailer – will likely need brake repairs sooner. On the other hand, a trailer that is being underutilized may be given more shop attention by technicians than it needs, wasting resources. By relying on the data, maintenance leaders can ensure their assets last the full equipment cycle in good order. 

Fleets with mixed trailer makes and models are more common than ever, and no two trailers are the same when it comes to maintenance requirements and recommended service intervals. By using intelligent scheduling driven by telematics data, midsize fleet maintenance leaders can ensure that each specific trailer model is getting the attention it needs.  

With the data from trailer telematics, maintenance managers can flip the script on how they keep assets fully operational. Rather than building a schedule that tries to fit every specific trailer component, maintenance teams can use telematics data to predict faults for an optimized maintenance cycle. By recording interventions as they take place, technician crews can use these incident reports to inform future repair decisions, leading to a more intelligent maintenance program.  

Making Maintenance Easier 

Free smart trailer solutions brochure

Managing midsize fleet maintenance is tough work–especially in today’s market. Luckily, trailer telematics technology is adding intelligence and insights to maintenance programs so that maintenance leaders can monitor trailers whether they’re in the shop or on the road.  

Whether it’s reducing CSA violations, cutting down on roadside repairs or informing maintenance scheduling powered by data, trailer telematics can help small- and mid-size fleets with enterprise-level service by providing real-time remote visibility into every facet of their trailer health. 

If you would like to learn more about how trailer telematics can help your small-to-mid-size fleet, be sure to check out our smart trailer solutions brochure to learn how tomorrow’s technology can help you today.  

Posted in 1. Transportation, 6. IoT Trends, Small and Midsize Fleets Tagged with: , , , , ,

Satellite IoT Connectivity Helping Combat Floods in Japan

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is turning the tide on flood preparation by monitoring linear rainbands—tell-tale signs of impending heavy downpours—on observation vessels fitted with ORBCOMM satellite IoT connectivity.  

In 2018 alone, Japan was devastated by widespread flooding that displaced over 8 million people, with 225 confirmed dead and one trillion Japanese yen in total flood-related damages reported. Just last year, tens of thousands of army troops, police officers and rescue personnel were mobilized as more than 50 people lost their lives in the Kyushu region. 

Getting the full picture 

Due to difficulties collecting vapor data from the country’s windward side via on-land radar equipment, the JMA has witnessed drastic rainfall forecast inaccuracies. In one case, a predicted 128mm of rain turned out to be a devastating 330mm—nearly three times the expected amount—which led to the fierce Kumamoto floods that claimed 65 lives in 2020. 

Every minute matters 

When it comes to floods and mudflows, timing is everything. Earlier warnings of torrential rainfall allow prefectures to prepare for downpours with sandbags and floodways which can mitigate the infrastructure damage caused by the summer flooding.  

Mobilizing citizens with evacuation alerts earlier can save lives and reduce the stress and risk imposed on families, first responders and emergency personnel. In flood scenarios, experts encourage residents to move to higher ground when leaving for an evacuation center is too risky. 

Powered by satellite connectivity 

satellite terminal
ST 6100 Satellite Terminal

The JMA quickly determined that off-land readings would improve the accuracy and speed of their flood predictions; however, sending this information to the mainland can be difficult from a vessel out at sea. 

To solve this, the JMA and the Meteorological Research Institute fitted research vessels with ORBCOMM satellite connectivity so that they can collect off-land vapor readings and send them back to the mainland in real time. The result: accurate and timely forecasts. 

ORBCOMM’s ST 6100 satellite terminal features two-way IsatData Pro satellite connectivity ideal for maritime applications with little to no cellular reception. Plus, its environmentally sealed exterior and low elevation angle performance make it the perfect partner for both terrestrial and maritime applications. 

With ORBCOMM’s robust and reliable satellite IoT connectivity, we expect that the JMA will be able to monitor and send linear rainband data and other information in real time for near-instant reporting and that these new capabilities will make a lasting impact on flood preparation for the region, helping to protect Japan’s infrastructure and its citizens. 

Moving forward, the JMA aims to share warnings for areas with worrying levels of linear rainbands along with other meteorological symptoms of rainfall by 2022 and plans to develop a satellite that can gather information across a wider geographical range. 

By 2030, the JMA is looking at integrating these flood monitoring efforts with artificial intelligence to further improve meteorological accuracy while expediting prediction speed by as much as half a day. 

Posted in 6. IoT Trends

3 Reasons Every Fleet Manager Needs to Set Trailer KPIs

Key performance indicators–KPIs–aren’t new to the trucking industry. For years, fleet managers have been monitoring metrics to squeeze every last drop of productivity and efficiency out of their operations. However, these efforts have mostly focused on truck data–not the valuable information held within the trailers in tow. Trailer telematics has come a long way over the past few years, providing fleet owners with far more than basic location data. In this article, we’ll discuss what fleet managers can expect to accomplish by setting trailer KPIs driven by fleet telematics. 

Increase Asset Utilization 

With trailer order delays, driver shortages and component shortages, it’s proving difficult for fleet owner to expand their business.  One way to side-step this supply-side slowdown is by improving the efficiency of assets currently in deployment. Using trailer telematics to improve asset utilization begins with trailer tracking. According to the American Trucking Association, only 24% of trailers in the US had trailer tracking capabilities, leaving most fleet owners in the dark. 

Not only does this lead to idle trailers eating away at profit margins, but it can also result in underfilled trailers that limit productivity and waste drivers’ hours. Plus, this can confuse procurement, as what appears to be a need for new trailers could, in fact, be poor asset utilization in disguise. 

Improve Route Efficiency 

The average American long-haul trucker travels over 100,000 miles in a year, showcasing the distance that fleets cover as they transport cargo. Tracking trailer KPIs such as percentage of loaded miles versus empty (deadhead) miles can go a long way in boosting profit margins, considering the amount of time truckers are on the road., considering the amount of time truckers are on the road. 

To achieve this, fleet managers can use trailer telematics to provide operational intelligence to route planning and real-time visibility to dispatch. Knowing the location of each asset along with its current load capacity can help plan future trips and ensure the right driver–one with available hours and trailer space–is heading to the right job. Strategic route planning leveraging trailer telematics limits deadhead miles while improving detention billing accuracy for excessive detention time, which can help mitigate losses. 

Reduce Cargo Theft and Claims 

Tracking trailer KPIs can help fleet managers mitigate cargo theft, which just last year reached a 5-year record high in volume and value for the American trucking industry. The ability to track trailer locations in real time using telematics can provide fleet owners with assurance that their assets are where they should be. Plus, investing in door sensors can ensure each trailer is being accessed only when and where it is authorized to be. 

Another area where trailer KPIs can help protect cargo is by reducing cargo claims, which hurt customer relations while costing fleets for shipments that are time sensitive or vulnerable to spoilage. Trailer telematics can play a role in protecting cargo by triggering time stamps where and when cargo is damaged to inform future route planning. In addition, the increased utilization of cargo camera sensors has ushered in a new level of load visibility for fleet managers. Not only can they inform dispatch of available volume within any given trailer (perfect for improving asset utilization) but they can also be used to manually take photos at any given time or when certain events–the trailer door opening or the beginning or ending of a driver’s trip–are triggered. 

Leveraging Telematics for Trailer KPIs 

Real-time visibility, improved operational efficiency, improved customer relations–these are just a few benefits that fleet managers can expect from setting trailer KPIs built off of data from the latest trailer telematics devices

We recently created The Fleet Manager’s Guide to Trailer KPIs that dives deep into the value of data-driven trailer KPIs and which metrics fleet managers should prioritize. To learn more about how ORBCOMM smart technology can help you track and meet your trailer KPIs, request a demo or contact us at

Posted in 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

The Role of IoT in Fleet Management

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With the global challenges of the past year, the digitization of the transportation industry—and fleet management as a whole—has quickly become a necessity, not a nicety. An online shopping surge has spiked one of the most robust freight markets in decades while simultaneously putting unprecedented pressure on fleet managers to perform local last-mile deliveries with already-strained resources. What’s more, social distancing has changed the way truckers interact with dispatchers, mechanics and fellow drivers, forcing companies to find an alternative to paper documentation. This has quickly created a need for new digital processes to facilitate trailer pickup and drop-off and communication between dispatch and drivers concerning jobs and workflow–all while maintaining physical distance. 

As a result, increased visibility into the supply chain is becoming a prerequisite for carriers trying to win business from shippers. Dispatchers need to know if trailers are full or empty and whether they’re parked or mobile. Plus, they want to have a finger on each driver’s hours to ensure last-minute deliveries can be completed on time. In the less-than-truckload sector, it’s all about speeding up the data. The biggest challenge is digital freight matching–having visibility on each load so shippers can match loads with the best carrier.

Empowering Fleets with IoT Technology 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has been pivotal in fleet management and is projected to be a mainstay in transportation for years to come. With an impressive resume across countless other industries, it allows trucking companies to track their vehicles in real time so they can have eyes on their loads around the clock, automate logistics that have been muddied by social distancing and generate insightful data that can improve efficiency during a time of driver and component shortages. Real-time IoT data enables fleet managers to accelerate decision-making by having the information they need readily available when they need it. 

Total Load Visibility 

No matter what your role is in the supply chain–manufacturer, shipper, receiver, retailer or carrier–end-to-end transparency and oversight is a necessity. For the trucking industry, investing in technology that provides visibility is not new. Carriers have been deploying vehicle tracking through asset-tracking hardware devices–coupled with GPS, temperature, humidity and door sensors–to improve their efficiency and gain new visibility into their business. 

However, new IoT-based applications can provide even better real-time operational efficiency for fleet managers. After all, fleet managers can leverage far more than just track-and-trace capabilities. There’s been a rise in “smart trucks” that carry various sensors and devices bumper-to-bumper, collecting data and generating insights that are providing tangible value to fleet managers. 

One example: by using cargo camera sensors to determine the available space within a trailer remotely, dispatchers can link a truck to an optimal load based on trailer space available. Plus, integrating additional data from other systems–the driver’s available working and driving hours, fuel, local weather and traffic data–can lead to an even more informed decision which improves both driver and asset utilization ratios. By using sensors with brake data, fleet managers can get trailer weight data, drill down into loads or unloads, and receive real-time alerts to overweight events. Overweight trailers can be prevented from leaving the yard and fines for overloaded trailers can be minimized. 

Embracing Digitization 

The transportation industry is going through a tech-driven revolution as fleet managers try to replace inefficient and error-prone paper-based processes with new automated and contactless interaction via IoT technology. Electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (eDVIRs) have replaced their paper counterparts; a win-win scenario that keeps file cabinets lighter and truck drivers happier. eSignatures and in-cab scanning have played a pivotal role in removing cross-contamination from paper and pens while also removing the need for truckers to be near other workers to sign important documentation. This also applies to interactions between truckers and dispatchers as well, as communication can be handled between both parties without stepping into the office together. With social distancing regulations easing in the US, eSignatures and in-cab scanning is still providing drivers with comfort and convenience that can help improve recruiting and retention, and maximize operational uptime moving forward.

With real-time asset tracking, dispatchers can know precisely when drivers will arrive (and where they are located via geofencing), reducing unnecessary check-ins to determine arrival. Drivers can avoid further obstacles on the road by bypassing weigh station stops completely, avoiding unnecessary downtime that could result in late deliveries and chargebacks. This is a highlight for many drivers as they don’t get paid unless their truck is on the move and could be a determining factor when it comes down to recruiting and retention. 

Data-Driven Fleets

IoT has created a massive output of available data for fleet managers to integrate into their operations. However, for large deployments of assets, it can be difficult to control the mass amounts of data, let alone analyze it. Fleet managers need to choose the data that they want to focus on and tie it to a goal that they want to achieve within their operations, whether it’s increased uptime, higher utilization, greater productivity, enhanced safety or lower expenses. 

Today, resource efficiency is top of mind for many fleet managers. After all, improving asset utilization by 10% across a fleet of 1,000 vehicles can provide the same value as adding 100 new trucks in an environment where expanding fleet resources is difficult due to component shortages. One way that IoT sensors can improve pickup efficiency is by automating tractor trailer coupling verification, minimizing human error and optimizing the pickup process for drivers. With the ability to remotely recognize which tractor or truck is attached to which trailer, dispatchers can be notified immediately–not 100 miles later–if drivers have connected to the wrong one, saving time, money, fuel, customer relations and driver’s patience. 

Improvements are also being made on the maintenance side. Fleet managers can use fault codes, odometer readings and utilization data to determine which vehicles should be repaired and when, streamlining service scheduling and reducing unnecessary appointments that are based on time intervals and not backed by data. Remote diagnostics can even pinpoint vehicle issues while the truck is on the road or before it’s left by providing actionable alerts to potential problems before a breakdown occurs, limiting downtime and costs. With fault severity data, technicians can better understand which vehicles need to be taken off the road for repair and which are safe enough to safely complete their trip. 

Invest in your Fleet 

The benefits that IoT can provide fleet maintenance cannot be overstated: no towing fees, no spontaneous need for a technician, no missed deliveries and no driver stranded on the side of the road when they could be driving. Want to learn more about how IoT can help fleet managers cut costs and improve efficiency? Read our free brochure on how smart trucks are helping fleet managers comply with regulations, increase driver efficiency, cut costs and more. 

Posted in 1. Transportation, 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

Smart Trucks: How Tractor Trailer Pairing Improves Driver Retention

Driver recruiting and retention is one of the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Research Priorities this year–and for good reason. The average cost of losing one trucker can range anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. Putting this into perspective, the average three-month turnover rate–74% in large fleets–applied to 100 drivers over three months could cost $370,000. 

Tractor Trailer Pairing

While better pay and more time at home are top of mind for many drivers, getting to the root of driver retention can also involve empowering truckers with tools and resources that make their jobs more enjoyable. Technology too can play its role; fleets can invest in features and functionalities that allow drivers to complete their daily tasks more easily. After all, nobody wants to feel unsafe behind the wheel of a tractor trailer or feel like they are wasting time unnecessarily. 

One area where fleet managers can provide relief to their drivers and improve retention is in yard management, where automated tractor trailer pairing can help keep truckers on the road–with the correct trailer in tow. 

Simplifying Yard Management 

Tractor trailer pairing–and yard management as a whole–is a crucial part of fleet operations that can have a direct impact on overall fleet performance, driver satisfaction, workflow efficiency, labor costs and delivery times. However, it is often still a manual process.  

Drivers walk around performing trailer pick-up checks and verifying they are picking up the right trailer using paper–a recipe for human error. This can be a drag for drivers who just want to get back on the road.

Truckers can (and do) pick up the wrong trailer. Yards can consist of tens of thousands of trailers that need to be manually verified by drivers before they couple them to their tractors. 

When a driver connects their tractor to the wrong trailer and leaves the yard, they will need to return once dispatch realizes the error and informs them. Once they re-enter the yard, they’ll need to park their truck and decouple it before finding the correct trailer.  

Often, truckers don’t realize the error until they arrive at their destination–which could be hundreds of miles away–carrying another driver’s trailer. This wastes time, fuel, workable hours, truckers’ patience and budget to get the driver back to the yard.

Making Life Easier for Drivers 

ORBCOMM is one of the first to address this clear market need with a tractor ID sensor that enables tractor-trailer pairing, allowing fleet managers to identify and verify which tractor is connected to which trailer without the need for manual confirmation from drivers. 

When both tractor and trailer are in line of sight and within proximity, the tractor ID sensor installed on the rear exterior wall of the truck will pair with the telematics device on the trailer via Bluetooth. Once this happens, the telematics device confirms the connection and transfers the tractor’s ID to the back office. With advanced Bluetooth filtering, the device can filter out nearby trailers to ensure the proper connection is being made–perfect for yards packed with trailers near one another. 

To reduce power and data usage, the tractor ID sensor remains latent when it is unpaired and once connected, pairing attempts occur at less frequent intervals, allowing fleet managers to get as many as 7 years out of a single lithium battery. In the back office, dispatchers can view when trailers are coupled and decoupled along with the specific IDs for each asset, simplifying the management of a once-complex trailer yard.  

Driver Happiness with Tractor Trailer Pairing

As fleet managers face heightened demand from retail, driver retention is set to remain one of the top industry challenges. It is no secret that the life of a trucker can be grueling; however, by investing in driver comfort with technology and other methods, fleet managers can help keep their staff happy and ultimately, their fleet on the road. 

With tractor trailer ID, dispatchers will know that the right trailers are attached to the right vehicles, making life more comfortable for them and their drivers, by preventing the driver from having to return to the yard to get the right trailer.  

To learn more about our IS 400 tractor ID sensor, visit the datasheet or contact us at

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

Smart Reefer Containers – Why Interoperability Matters

blue steel door under white clouds during daytime

The ongoing disruptions snarling global maritime container trade and supply chains have driven home the acute need for better visibility into the location and status of container cargo and equipment moving through the system. Nowhere is this more important than in the refrigerated container trades carrying vital supplies of perishable food, pharmaceuticals and medicines, including vaccines, across the world.  

The recent logjam at the Chinese Port of Yantian hit reefer shipments hard, with major ocean carriers advising that a percentage of refrigerated cargoes will be diverted–in some cases “without prior notice”–to other ports in the Pearl River Delta. Not only does this raise concerns about cargo integrity if other ports lack plugs to power unexpected reefer shipments; it also dislocates finely tuned cold chain logistics and reefer repositioning networks on a potentially global basis, with ripple effects for some long time to come.  

Leading global reefer carrier Maersk Line has warned that this is “a much bigger disruption” than the Suez Canal blockage. In its latest advisory on July 2, Maersk cautions that while the congestion in Yantian is now clearing up, one impacted port could become a downward spiral for neighbouring ports, creating new bottlenecks. Coming so soon after the Suez Canal blockage, and on top of so many months of disruption, events in southern China have deepened concerns about how to monitor, manage and mitigate perishable supply chain shocks, congestion and capacity shortages. Smart containers cannot resolve the macro issues, but they can and do play a vital part of the digital ecosystem in the face of volatility, uncertainty and complexity. ‘Simply’ being able to check the live location and status of containers and their cargo – and make remote adjustments to temperature and other critical conditions – is a big step forward. 

Smart container webinar

Well before the pandemic, the reefer segment of the container market was leading the way in adoption of IoT telematics for remote real-time visibility, monitoring and control. To date, ORBCOMM has deployed IoT telematics on over 600,000 container assets and the great majority are reefer containers. Still, with less than 40% of the global reefer container fleet estimated to have telematics installed today (c. 600,000 units out of the current fleet of around 2.4 million), adoption of IoT in the reefer container space has lagged when compared with the reefer trailer market, where ORBCOMM currently has 700,000 cold chain subscribers. That could now change quite quickly. Pandemic times have seen an acceleration in IoT telematics for reefer containers amidst a surge of newbuilding activity to keep up with global cold chain demand amid equipment shortages. That includes more factory installations on newbuilds. 

The efforts of the Digital Container Shipping Association and the Container Owners Association in developing standards for reefer container IoT communication technology and data have been a big boost for adoption. This June, the COA’s Reefer Telematics Working group, a collaboration of reefer equipment manufacturers and telematics Providers, published a new open standard Reefer Data Classification Scheme, supported by an open source Unified Data Model (UDM), to enable the exchange of information on refrigerated containers in a uniform way, independent of the model and manufacturer. 

“By using the standard data model provided in this document, shipping lines and other reefer container operators who have mixed fleets of different reefer machinery will benefit from the convenience of accessing relevant data, without the complexity of accessing [these data] with different formats and means,” says COA. “This is relevant as it is estimated around 70% of all data integration activities today are spent validating, structuring, organizing and cleaning data, a cumbersome burden that the UDM model eliminates.  

Open standards published by the DCSA include IoT Gateway Connectivity InterfacesIoT Data Standard for Remote Reefer Container Monitoring On Board a Vessel and Track & Trace. “Using digital standards, integrated IoT technology can stream high-quality, real-time data from connected devices, providing end-to-end visibility into both the whereabouts of containers and the status of their contents,” said DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge in a recent editorial.   

The standards published by bodies like the COA and DCSA are helping foster interoperability and stakeholder collaboration as the industry wants to be able to not only share data easily, but also to buy hardware from multiple telematics suppliers and not to have to use multiple software platforms.  In our era of shipping alliances and vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) where a single vessel carries containers for many different carriers, shipping lines are also concerned about the ability to monitor their smart reefers using partners’ onboard remote monitoring systems and vice versa.  This is an equal concern for cold chain shippers and distributors who need robust visibility into temperature and other key cargo care and compliance KPIs along the cold chain, including at sea. 

ORBCOMM believes that open, interoperable and non-proprietary must be the direction of travel for all IoT vendors to the global container industry, with software platforms and mobile applications that fully support interoperability with third party telematics devices and data from other sources. ORBCOMM has already successfully integrated 3rd party telematics devices on our ReeferConnect and VesselConnect platforms and will continue this work. 

Data interoperability matters.   

It matters so that data generated by telematics devices can be integrated with other enterprise software systems for added insights and efficiencies. A typical case in point is with a booking system. By integrating details about a shipment – such as origin, destination, set temperature and commodity – with an IoT platform, business rules and AI can be applied to the data to create alerts for incorrect set temperatures or temperature excursions. Plus, full-trip data histories can also be shared automatically via APIs.  

It matters so that smart container data can be shared with the growing number of visibility platforms operating across the cold chain, incorporating data from multiple systems such as TMS, WMS and more. For true end-to-end supply chain visibility, all these systems must be able to ‘talk’ to each other to ensure efficient management of hand-offs along the chain and allow container data to inform other segments of the chain – for instance, last mile delivery planning for e-commerce chains. 

And it matters for future proofing as new IoT technologies and communication channels continue to enter the mix. A case in point is our upcoming CT 3500 smart reefer device that now not only interfaces with the native protocols of the reefer container machine’s microcontroller, but also supports a suite of wireless sensors to augment the data already collected by the reefer controller.  

These wireless sensors use LoRa technology to communicate with the CT 3500 IoT device and overcome the historical challenge of using other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, which are not robust enough to penetrate the insulation of the refrigerated container.  LoRa wireless door sensors, wireless cargo sensors, and wireless temperature sensors provide valuable data that can be analyzed and interpreted for things such as trip start and end, reefer loading and unloading, security breaches, temperature compliance and refrigeration performance, to name a few.  

“What’s in the reefer box” is going to become ever more important to deliver segmented supply chain services in an increasingly integrated logistics world. IoT will play a big role in enabling this as part of the evolving cold chain data infrastructure and digital ecosystems. Open, interoperable and non-proprietary are the keys to the future of reefer container IoT in the global cold supply chain. 

Want to learn more about interoperability and container IoT? Watch my latest Smart Reefer video presentation or email us any time at

Posted in 2. Container Shipping, 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

Know the Score: Consistent Wins for Ron Finemore Transport with ORBCOMM

You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score. That’s a motto that Ron Finemore Transport works by. ORBCOMM’s telematics solutions have been key to helping Ron Finemore Transport win the game through driver scorecards, vehicle utilization, maintenance planning and the ability to access and integrate data from all parts of their business.

The business

Serving Australia’s east coast, family-owned Ron Finemore Transport has a fleet of approximately 260 prime movers and 500+ trailers, and operates seven days a week. The business runs strategic logistics hubs in cities including Wodonga, Wagga, Orange and Goulburn to service their customers in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide efficiently and effectively every day.

The Ron Finemore Transport business is principally in the transport of food and retail products from manufacturers to distribution centres and from distribution centres to stores. They also transport petroleum-based products from refineries and storage facilities to service stations and fuel depots. As one of the safest and most reliable fleets in Australia, Ron Finemore Transport looks to ORBCOMM to maintain its stellar record in fleet safety, customer service and fuel economy and use of data.

Darren Wood, General Manager of Technology and Innovation

The challenges

Before they chose ORBCOMM, Ron Finemore Transport had a number of aims. They wanted to access data from their fleet and use it to enhance operational efficiencies, reduce the cost of fuel through more efficient driving styles, use driver scorecards to ensure safety and reduce the financial burden of refrigerated load claims. They also wanted to use data from the telematics platform to provide insight into key metrics within the businesses’ operations.

With a fleet of 700+ assets transporting goods across nearly the entire east coast of Australia, it needed a full end-to-end solution of robust hardware, and intuitive and in-depth software, along with some time to work on bringing in some changes.

General Manager of Technology and Innovation, Darren Wood says he was impressed with the level of data available through the ORBCOMM system and the difference it could make in their fleet. Wood says there were three key reasons for using ORBCOMM’s solutions. “The driver performance scoring (tool) was second to none at the time and we still believe it’s the best in the market. Two, vehicle performance scoring has provided and continues to provide valuable insight into the type of equipment we should purchase for different contracts in our business. The third part was the ability to access the data and then use that data to integrate into other parts of our business.”

The solution

Ron Finemore Transport has worked with ORBCOMM’s telematics solution since 2014 to deliver its fleet’s driver safety and drive scorecard reporting, operational efficiency and excellent customer service.

As a long-term customer, Ron Finemore Transport sees ORBCOMM touching nearly every corner of the business. Wood says, “everything we’re doing is focused on providing insight into driver performance and driving style, fleet performance and efficiency, and ultimately getting the data out of the system or using the system-generated reports to understand our key business metrics.”

The volume, speed and accuracy of data flowing through the system is vital for the company’s successful operations. “You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score. We always refer to that sort of analogy when we talk about any part of the business. If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” says Wood.

ORBCOMM’s technology stack is intrinsically linked with the smooth running of the Ron Finemore Transport fleet:

BT 500 powers ORBCOMM’s truck management device, providing complete visibility, live combination weight monitoring and management of drivers, vehicles and displays.

BT 320 is an advanced temperature monitoring device for refrigerated trucks and trailers, with two-way reefer control, maintenance scheduling, temperature compliance data and EBS connectivity for weight, odometer and fault code data.

BT 120 is a reliable, accurate dry trailer tracking device with robust external door sensors, real time alerts and EBS connectivity for weight, odometer and fault code data.

The results

Better safety and fuel economy by improving driving habits

Driver behaviour means different things to different companies. For a driver-first business like Ron Finemore Transport, safety is the number one concern. Monitoring performance scores helps to contribute to the safety of the fleet by identifying and helping to correct at-risk driving behaviours. Having an up-to-date weekly scoreboard for each driver builds a continuous improvement environment.

By monitoring driving in the truck, the system produces a score for each driver and each trip. ORBCOMM’s system monitors drivers in 26 categories like harsh braking, harsh acceleration, speeding and use of cruise control.

ORBCOMM’s Unique Anticipation Feature Anticipation measures the time taken before the brake is pressed after a driver lifts their foot off the accelerator. Each of these events is banded together and analyzed. The data is then compiled to deliver an Anticipation score. A lower Anticipation score is better as it suggests that the truck driver is anticipating the road ahead.

Better fuel burn is a natural outcome of monitoring and coaching drivers through driver scorecards. Ron Finemore Transport focuses on the management of fuel cost by reviewing and acting on driver scorecard information. Wood says, “the key thing for us is management of fuel economy. It’s still the largest cost in our business by far, after wages. Anything we can do to improve the driver fuel efficiency is where we focus our attention. All the other benefits that come from that are natural. So, if you can improve a driver’s focus on touching the brake, or looking ahead, anticipating what’s next and using cruise control, then naturally you get a fuel benefit and improved safety.” The data derived from driver performance scoring opens a dialog with drivers, Wood says.

“The KPIs from a driver performance scoring perspective are fuel burn, anticipation and brake applications. These three things combined, when interpreted in the right way, give our driver trainers the opportunity to have sensible discussions with drivers about their driving style and opportunities to improve.”

Darren Wood, General Manager of Technology and Innovation at Ron Finemore Transport

Using fuel burn data to inform equipment specification

As part of its continuing objective of streamlining operations, Ron Finemore Transport has put a strong focus on understanding its fuel burn per vehicle to inform its truck specifications. Initially, the company compared like-for-like trucks in Australia and Europe and found the fuel efficiency significantly differed. By using the fuel burn data in tandem with other system data, Wood says, “We attempted to reconcile the difference (between the costs of running our Australian truck fleet and those used in Europe).

Maintaining maximum uptime

With a range of vehicles in a high-utilisation fleet, it’s important to Ron Finemore Transport to maximise its uptime to deliver a safe and reliable service for customers. ORBCOMM’s maintenance management feature maximizes the uptime of vehicles and eliminates over-or under-scheduled maintenance. If a driver notices an issue, and something goes wrong, then the maintenance team is also prepared. Vehicle uptime is managed with programmes that monitor real-time logs, diagnostic data, alerts, and fault codes.

“I think it’s fair to say there were lots of spreadsheets before. Now that we keep maintenance up to date in the ORBCOMM system, we schedule reports to our operations teams on a daily and weekly basis. We’re getting information; we’re servicing our equipment on time and we’ve cut out a whole heap of waste associated with spreadsheets,” says Wood.

The right vehicle for the right job with vehicle performance scoring

One of the unique elements that Ron Finemore Transport has taken from using the ORBCOMM solution is the insight into using the right asset for the right job. Wood says vehicle performance scoring has been delivering a far better understanding of their fleet. “It has provided and continues to provide valuable insight into what type of equipment we should purchase for different contracts within our business.”

In accessing deep vehicle analytics, the company has been able to refine its fleet specifications to fit their business objectives. Wood says they can now access data that was inaccessible before using ORBCOMM’s solutions. The company mixes it with other data from its transportation management system (TMS) to “gain valuable insight into how different vehicles operate, and how best to get maximum performance out of them.”

Helping Ron Finemore Transport to keep its cool

Transporting food products is not without its challenges. Products need to be kept at specific temperatures throughout the journeys. By implementing ORBCOMM’s temperature tracking and reporting, Ron Finemore Transport was able to substantially reduce the cost of claims. “We had claims in excess of half a million dollars per year. We believed we hadn’t done anything wrong, but because we didn’t have the evidence to support it, we ended up paying. The year after we implemented BT 300s into the business and started tracking the temperatures in real-time, we had minimised our overall claims cost.”

This, says Wood, was also a key element in growing their business. “In the Australian market at that time, we were one of the only companies in the country tracking temperatures in real time. It gave us an advantage over our competitors. It allowed us to build our refrigeration business from where it was back then to what it is today. What we do, we do extremely well, and we can validate our cargo temperatures instantly, which is great peace of mind for our customers.”

Opening a world of data

The ability to use the data has made a significant difference to the business. The volume and depth of data available through ORBCOMM’s systems has opened new avenues for Ron Finemore Transport, “we pull a mountain of data out of the system using the API and feed it into our data warehouse to interrogate and use,” says Wood.

Data is at the heart of operations in Ron Finemore Transport and is in the arteries running through every part of the business. “We use a whole plethora of daily and weekly reporting out of the system for management of our fleet. We use workshop modules to capture service intervals. We have scheduled reports that come out on a daily basis for our operations team.”

As well as historical reporting, Wood says Ron Finemore Transport relies on real-time systems management. “As much as possible we try to report in real time in all of our systems. We therefore rely on data coming out of our API into our data warehouse. We interrogate that data using robots and other tools to determine departure and arrival times.”

“Our fallback position is always reporting out of ORBCOMM in the instance where we need to validate information. This provides real-time status updates for every shipment in our business. We now use that data to marry against the trip information in the TMS, to determine arrival and departure times at each of our stops. Then we use robotic process automation to update our TMS using ORBCOMM data. Getting that data in real time for us is critical and feeds through then to many of our other systems.”

The future

In addition to meeting their requirements today, Ron Finemore Transport has big plans in store for its fleet and the ORBCOMM team is looking forward to being part of it.

The ORBCOMM team is working closely with Ron Finemore Transport in developing an electronic work diary (EWD). An EWD system monitors and records work and rest times of drivers. “That will allow us to implement a fatigue management regime that is more flexible for our drivers and will give them a better outcome at the end of the day.”

And, of course, there is a focus on using data in new and exciting ways. Electronic Braking System (EBS) module trailer information is one area of focus. EBS Trailer Weight monitoring monitors load and unload events, maximum vehicle weights and alerts to overweight events and this is providing new focus in the company. “More recently we’ve been exploring EBS information and where that’s applicable in our business. We’re getting great insight into payloads on our equipment, which helps us better understand the fuel burn.” says Wood.

Many like Ron Finemore Transport have been able to leverage data to “keep score” on their fleet operations. To learn more about the value of driver performance scoring, schedule a demo with our team today.

Posted in 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , , ,

Smart Grid Monitoring Systems: Connecting Utilities with Satellite IoT (FAQ)

aerial photography of city during night time
smart grid monitoring webinar

Energy management is evolving with utility companies adopting a smart grid monitoring system powered by IoT and satellite connectivity as a way to meet new logistical demands effectively and reliably. 

In March, ORBCOMM held “Connecting the Smart Grid with Satellite IoT”, a free webinar which covered what smart grids are, why so many utility companies are leveraging satellite connectivity, some of our customers’ successes and more. From that session, we received some great questions about our satellite IoT solution that we’d like to share today… 

How many years has this smart grid monitoring system been used in the electricity market? 

ORBCOMM satellite terminals helped Brazilian energy company CERFOX quickly recover from a cyclone that collapsed their energy grid.

Our satellite IoT solution for smart grids has been used in the electricity market for 6 years, with over 4000 successful installs. 

In what regions is this solution available? 

Smart grid information

Due to the global availability of our satellite networks, this solution can be deployed worldwide. Our solution is certified for use in many countries, and is designed to operate in any condition, regardless of weather, temperature, dust, humidity and more. 

What type of satellite constellation is used? 

The satellite constellation that provides connectivity to the solution uses geostationary satellites. These satellites always remain at a fixed point above the earth. This enables reduced latency, because the terminal does not have to wait for a satellite to pass overhead. 

What level of reliability can be achieved with this solution? 

This solution can achieve 99.9% uptime in any weather conditions. 

What sort of cybersecurity is used to prevent hacks or the interception of traffic?  

Our satellite network is a private network, not accessible by the public. Using a private network allows us to achieve the highest level of network security, preventing intrusions. 

Are there any concerns with signal interference when locating the device so close to high voltage power transformers/lines? 

We have installed over 4000 devices in various configurations and supporting a variety of use cases, and we have not seen any direct impact of signal interference on the performance of the solution. Our performance tests have not shown any effect of electromagnetic interference on the devices. 

What sort of terminals are available for this solution? 

ST 6100

We offer two different types of terminals to support this solution. The first is the ST 6100, a programmable satellite terminal with two-way connectivity and SCADA integration. The second is the ST 9100, which is like the ST 6100 but contains both a satellite and cellular antenna in the same enclosure, allowing dual-mode connectivity with a single device. 

How is power supplied to the terminal? How much power does it use? 

Power is supplied to the terminal using anywhere from 9 V to 32 V DC. The minimum power consumption varies based on voltage, but for 12 V, it is between 20mA and 600mA. 

Once a device is installed in the field, how can it be managed and updated? 

The device can be managed and updated remotely. Both terminals have over-the-air (OTA) updates for both software and firmware. This allows remote firmware upgrades, the loading of applications to the device and remote reset. Once the device is installed, maintenance crews will never have to physically access the terminal to update it. 

Is the solution immune to jamming? How can the terminal be protected from these types of attacks? 

black metal tower under blue sky

One of the vulnerabilities of cellular technology is jamming, which blocks the device’s signal and prevents it from communicating on the network. Satellite solutions do not present the same vulnerability. Additionally, our devices have built-in GPS jamming protection to ensure the device can be located. Dual mode satellite and cellular solutions can also fall back to the satellite network if cellular is unavailable. These features together provide maximum availability of the communication channel, regardless of location or weather conditions. 

What kind of equipment could be integrated with this solution? 

This solution can operate with nearly any electrical equipment, including reclosers, voltage regulators, capacitor banks, fault indicators, self-healing grids, switches and more. Smart meters can be integrated, though for small consumers they need to be integrated with a low power network like LoRa. For larger electricity consumers, like hospitals, factories and stadiums, smart meter integration is key to managing usage. 

What kind of protocols are available? 

The solution works with the following protocols:

  • DNP3.0
  • Modbus
  • IEC 101
  • IEC 104
  • IEC 61850

How is SCADA connected to cloud middleware? 

SCADA can be connected to cloud middleware for this solution by socket port, DMZ or VPN. 

We hope this blog has answered some of the questions you had about our smart grid monitoring solution. Check out this free white paper to learn more about our satellite IoT solution for smart grid monitoring and control, recognized by Compass Research for helping energy companies improve electricity distribution and prevent outages 

If you have any questions that weren’t covered above, send us an email at and we’d be happy to help you. 

Posted in 5. Natural Resources, 6. IoT Trends, 7. Connectivity Tagged with: , , , , ,

Fishing Vessel Monitoring System Aids Thai Maritime Authorities

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has the potential to damage the marine environment and put fishermen’s lives at risk. We talk to ETNECA in Thailand to find out how ORBCOMM’s vessel monitoring system is being used to promote responsible and sustainable fisheries management, protect the marine environment and improve maritime security while ensuring regulatory compliance.

The customer challenge

Marine fisheries are an important sector for the economic livelihood of the people of Thailand. However, the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry has been threatened due to unrestricted access to fishing grounds and unauthorized fishing inside and outside of Thai waters.

vessel tracking with satellite

In 2015, new regulations were introduced to address those issues. A national plan of action was set up to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), to achieve a sustainable and environmentally friendly fishery and seafood industry. One key measure was that all commercial fishing vessels greater than 30 gross tonnage (GT) would be required to install a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). Implementation was undertaken by the Thai Department of Fisheries (DoF) and the Royal Thai Navy, the government authorities responsible for regulating and controlling fisheries resources, sustaining the marine environment and enhancing the safety of fisherman at sea.

To comply with the regulations, the Thai command center for combating illegal fishing and Thai government required a centralized VMS that would be easy to use and install. In addition, it needed to meet some specific requirements:

• Enhance maritime safety and guidance rescue operations.
• Transmit the routes taken as well as the fishing zone(s) in which vessels operate.
• Collect data that can be used in the event of a vessel crossing into restricted zones.
• Monitor access to restricted zones like oil rigs and ecological zones such as coral reefs.

This is where fisheries vessel monitoring systems come into play…

The solution: ETNECA’s Fishing Vessel Monitoring System

ETNECA is Thailand’s leading service provider of maritime satellite communications. Established in 2012, it develops data transmission and marine communication services, delivering vessel tracking, marine data transmission, marine traffic monitoring and electronic fishing industry protection services throughout Thailand and Myanmar. It is one of ORBCOMM’s key solution providers in the region.

Starting in 2014, ETNECA turned to ORBCOMM to create a VMS solution for Thailand. Working with ORBCOMM’s two-way global IsatData Pro (IDP) satellite technology, ETNECA deployed ORBCOMM’s IDP-690, and later the ST 6100 – satellite terminals designed to provide full visibility of fishing operations and access vessel data including real-time position, course and speed as well as catch report—regardless of vessel location.

Chatri Petchor, Overseas Manager of ETNECA, says that ETNECA had been involved in developing marine data transmission and traffic monitoring systems for the Thai navy since 2012 before the Thai VMS was implemented. “There were about 10 or 12 providers who were looking for approval at that time,” Petchor says. “We were lucky at the time of implementation that we could use ORBCOMM to help us challenge for the Thai approval as a service provider. Today, we have the biggest market share in Thai VMS”.

ORBCOMM’s ST 6100 satellite terminal delivers complete visibility and control of assets operating at sea. Vessels stay connected with the always-on, two-way satellite connectivity over the Inmarsat IDP service. The environmentally-sealed ST 6100 provides all of the ruggedness required on fishing vessels and its programmable terminal, advanced configurable apps and scripts ensures it is suitable for a wide range of maritime applications.

ETNECA uses the platform to record fishing activities and report them to fishing authorities. The Thai FMC use the system to understand the exact location of the fishing vessels once they leave port and throughout the fishing zone. Real-time monitoring is enabled through alerts and notifications. Vessel activity can also be analyzed with reports including vessel sailing routes, fishing zones and restricted zones–which can be combined with other data sources to prevent illegal fishing.

“The primary requirement is mostly to know where the fishing vessel is located when they are going out fishing. The basic VMS data is sent from the terminal to the authorities,” says Petchor.

ETNECA’s VMS tracks location, sailing route, speed, heading, longitude, time and date. In recent times, vessels have to send more data back to the FMC. “When you are leaving the port, you have to report that. When you are at the fishing area, you start fishing, you throw a net in the water – you send data back to the authority. When you return to port, you have to click the button again to send the data to the center, to know that you are on the way back to the shore,” Petchor says. “Secondly, the authorities can use geofencing to monitor the environmental side. When fishing vessels go to catch fish near restricted areas, it is too dangerous to get nearby. If vessels get caught crossing the geofence, they will get a warning. The fisheries department can send their case to the justice department and they may be fined for that.”

The full programmability of the ST 6100 terminal also provided ETNECA with the ability to address other maritime applications. E-Chat, a communications solution for those spending much of their time at sea, was developed by ETNECA to overcome the limitations of other onboard devices such as satellite telephone, cellular mobile phone and radio communications devices by sending short messages via IDP. Chatri Petchor says, “We like the IDP very much, because we were able to modify and develop our own chat application to use a very minimized data usage for fisherman to communicate back to their families.”

Authorities are also using the system to monitor for human trafficking. By looking for suspicious behavior of vessels, Petchor says that the real-time data can provoke questions like “why are these two vessels too close to each other in a place that they shouldn’t be?” Early interventions are made possible if authorities suspect the occurrence of human trafficking.

The outcome

By making the installation of a VMS mandatory by law, the Thai Department of Fisheries has been able to monitor and control fishing vessel movements. Combined with other initiatives, the control of the number of fishing vessels allowed out of port has reduced unregulated fishing activities in Thailand. To date, the Thai fishing vessel fleet has become significantly more compliant than before the fishing vessel monitoring system was introduced.

ETNECA has played a significant role. Now monitoring more than 3,500 vessels, it has the largest market share of fishing vessel monitoring systems in the region. ETNECA also now works with authorities in Myanmar. Petchor puts the success down to several factors. “The devices and service from ORBCOMM are very stable and reliable. They are highly programmable and configurable, which allows ETNECA to build a customized solution for delivering to fishermen to meet the Thai VMS requirements. Also, the price—including data rates and supporting services from ORBCOMM—is cost-effective for the fishermen to handle in the Thai market.”

Future applications could include helping fishermen in vessels to use an electronic logbook instead of manually filling it. Petchor says that, “This will be required soon. We don’t know how often they have to report the logbook, but assuming it’s every 24 hours, that’s going to be much more in use on each vessel.” He also says that the VMS program could be extended to vessels under 30 GT. “The next program will be anything below 30 GT, which I think is going to happen this year.”

At ORBCOMM, we are dedicated to helping enable compliant and sustainable fisheries management, as well as improving the data for scientific fisheries research. If you’re interested in learning more about vessel tracking systems, and how we can simplify your VMS development, get in touch with our team today at

Posted in 3. Maritime / AIS, 6. IoT Trends Tagged with: , , , , ,

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