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. On the retail side, 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

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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: , , , , ,

Dark Vessel Detection Enhances AIS Data to Protect our Oceans and Improve Maritime Safety

“Dark” vessel activity is becoming an increasingly common practice, where vessels turn off their AIS transponders or cooperative beacons to engage in illegal activities and evade authorities. As such, dark vessel detection has become increasingly important to pinpoint vessels that are up to nefarious activities, such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing among other maritime safety and security concerns.

While bad intentioned vessel crews may think they can go undetected, if they still have their S-Band or X-Band marine radar on, satellite Radio Frequency (RF) can be used to enhance existing AIS services and enable reliable detection from space.

Satellite AIS White PaperWe at ORBCOMM are very excited to announce our partnership with UnseenLabs to distribute their space-based RF detection technology via ORBCOMM’s global maritime AIS data services channels.

In addition to detecting IUU fishing, UnseenLabs’ dedicated, state-of-the art satellite constellation can assist in many maritime security related applications, including trade sanctions compliance, counter piracy and human/drug trafficking just to name a few. Using its proprietary, on-board RF technology based on the identification of electromagnetic waves emitted by ships, UnseenLabs is able to geolocate any vessel at sea from space, in near-real time and regardless of weather conditions to within a kilometer, from a single nanosatellite.

dark vessel detection via satellite RF technology
UnseenLabs is able to geolocate any vessel at sea from space, in near-real time and regardless of weather conditions to within a kilometer, from a single nanosatellite.

With the advent of this commercially available RF detection technology, it is now more difficult for bad actors to hide themselves in the high seas or even among the high-density areas of the world, such as the South China Sea, where the large volume of AIS transmissions and VHF interferers can make satellite AIS detection more challenging.

ORBCOMM remains committed to supporting these maritime domain awareness missions by providing the widest sourced AIS data set and seeking any other alternative data services, such as RF, which can assist in illuminating activity on our oceans and waterways. We look forward to working with UnseenLabs to bring this innovative technology to our maritime partners and customers.

To learn more, read the full announcement, or email us at

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

Important Canadian ELD Update: One-year Progressive Enforcement Plan Approved

On May 5, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) announced that all Canadian provinces and territories have reached an agreement on a progressive enforcement plan for the Canadian ELD mandate. The plan stipulates that the provinces and territories will not impose penalties for the first 12 months after the introduction of the Canadian ELD mandate on June 12, 2021.  

Canadian ELD Update webinar

Although the primary reason for this decision, according to CCMTA, is the impact of COVID-19, there are other factors that have led to the decision on progressive enforcement: 

  • There are currently no certified ELDs, one month prior to the original enforcement date. 
  • There is only one Transport Canada-approved certifying body, creating a certification backlog. 
  • The testing procedure is going through changes and refinements while ELDs are being tested, slowing down testing and forcing repeat testing in some cases. 
  • Regular communications between Transport Canada, the trucking industry and enforcement partners (provinces and territories) have not been forthcoming, creating uncertainty for all parties. 

ORBCOMM remains committed to providing a certified Canadian ELD and continues to follow all the steps and guidance to achieve that goal. Here is what we are doing in response to the progressive enforcement plan: 

  • We remain committed to completing certification by June 12, 2021, while recognizing that this could be impacted by further changes from Transport Canada. 
  • We are working with the industry and enforcement partners to confirm any further details related to the progressive enforcement plan. 
  • We will continue to provide updates over the coming weeks as more information trickles in. 

For answers to other common questions about the Canadian ELD mandate, watch the replay of our latest webinar at  

If you have more specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at  

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

Satellite AIS: A Digital Revolution at Sea (Video Q&A)

Since its inception in the early 1990s, AIS (Automatic Identification System) data has played a vital role in digitizing maritime industries and there is no sign of it slowing down. Over the years, Satellite AIS technology has continued to evolve as an accurate, reliable and rich source of information with a widening array of unique use cases. Today, AIS data helps address the many challenges that face maritime industries, including vessel tracking, national security, search and rescue operations, illegal fishing, environmental impacts and piracy.

Satellite AIS White Paper

To better understand Satellite AIS and the benefits of smart technology for maritime operations, Namrata Nadkarni, Founder and CEO at Intent Communications, sat down with Andrew Loretta, Senior Director, Maritime Business Development at ORBCOMM to walk through the importance of this technology, its impact on maritime industries, unique use cases, ORBCOMM’s contributions and more.

ORBCOMM has operated AIS-enabled satellites for nearly a dozen years now. Tell us a little bit about Satellite AIS and how ORBCOMM has been involved in its development.

ORBCOMM’s involvement with Satellite AIS started at the very beginning of its development when the US government engaged with us to determine if broadcasted messages from vessels could be collected using satellites in space so they could be tracked for homeland security purposes. ORBCOMM was awarded a contract from the US Coast Guard in 2004 and we launched our first commercial AIS satellites in 2008. Since then, we have expanded our AIS data service to include terrestrial AIS and we are working towards the launch of our fourth generation of AIS satellites this year in 2021.

Satellite AIS has been called a ‘game changer’ for a wide range of applications. What are those applications and how would you describe Satellite AIS’s impact on each of them?

Satellite AIS is a game changer for several reasons, starting with the fact that it completely revolutionizes what we know about vessels operating in the middle of the ocean, from the moment they leave port to when they arrive at their destination. Information that had never been attainable before, such as what route the vessel took, did it stop anywhere and anything else it might have done along the way is all readily available.

For maritime safety and security, Satellite AIS data enables much more responsive rescue operations for vessels that were in trouble at sea. Unlawful activity like illegal fishing and environmental disasters such as oil spills have become highly visible, and counter piracy operations and trade sanctions are easily managed. From a commercial perspective, Satellite AIS helps shippers better track their goods, allows vessel owners to keep better tabs on their own ships and those of their competitors, and enables commodity traders to better understand where the market demand currently is.

What are some of the use cases we see now for Satellite AIS that may not have been initially anticipated when the technology was first deployed?

Several unique, unanticipated use cases for Satellite AIS technology have come up over the years. One application that has been developed recently is the use of Satellite AIS to track and reduce carbon emissions from vessels by correlating vessel location data with where carbon emissions have been seen. Another application helps increase supply chain visibility by pairing shipping info, such as a bill of lading, with AIS data to determine shipping ETAs.

Satellite AIS has also recently been paired with other IoT technology that has been accelerating in recent years, such as machine learning and AI, to transcend current applications. With the help of predictive analytics, vessel activity is not only visible in real-time, but can be predicted ahead of time based on where the vessel has been, significantly improving the way regulatory authorities manage illegal fishing operations, trade sanctions and compliance.

Satellite AIS technology has a bright future in the maritime industry and ORBCOMM is committed to helping bring the benefits of its many use cases to our customers. Our industry-leading AIS data service delivers the most complete picture of global vessel activity such as location, identification and other critical data to enable shippers, authorities and government bodies around the world with valuable insights that assist in the tracking of maritime operations and regulations.

To view the full Q&A,visit:

For more information on our AIS data services, visit

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

Canadian ELD Update: What You Need to Know as the Deadline Looms

Canadian ELD UpdateFree Live Webinar Hosted by Today’s Trucking
Canadian ELD Update: What You Need to Know as the Deadline Looms
Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 1:00 PM EDT

The landscape around the Canadian ELD mandate is changing quickly. Even if you’ve attended a previous session on Canadian ELD, you’ll want to tune in to find out the very latest news and what it all means for your fleet.

Join our experts for this informative and engaging webinar, as we explore:

  • Recent changes and what new information you need before the upcoming Canadian ELD mandate
  • What to make of Transport Canada’s recent announcements and how to ensure your fleet is ready when enforcement begins
  • The timeline and rollout plan for Transport Canada’s enforcement of the mandate
Register Now

Who Should Attend?
This webinar is a must attend for Owners; CEOs; COOs; operations, safety officers, compliance officers, driver trainers, fleet managers, dispatch supervisors, device maintenance managers, IT project managers, human resources personnel, and anyone involved in fleet safety and compliance.

Moderated by: Joe Glionna, President, Newcom Media


Scott StoferScott Stofer
Director of Safety and Legal Compliance, ORBCOMM
Scott is responsible for the product lifecycle of fleet safety solutions, as well as ELD mandate and hours-of-service compliance for the US and Canada. Scott has over 10 years of IoT and Telematics experience, including web and mobile software development, as well as the design and deployment of wireless networks for data collection. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

More Canadian ELD Resources

Be sure to also consult the following resources designed to help your fleet prepare for the Canadian ELD deadline:

The Definitive Canadian ELD Deadline Transition Guide

The Canadian ELD Mandate FAQ – Penalties, Deadlines & Certification

Webinar Replay: What Canadian ELD Means for Regional and Cross-Border Fleets

To equip your fleet with a trusted Canadian ELD solution, request a quote today or email

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

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