Trailer and asset tracking specialist SkyBitz sees tighter trailer to tractor ratios and several other new trends emerging as the trucking industry begins its slow exit from the recession, according to Craig Montgomery, sr vp, marketing and business development for the company. In a separate development, the company announced that it will develop a new global satellite service with Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM), the operator of a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite network.
“We have about 200,000 units deployed out there now,” says Montgomery, “and we look at the addressable market of trailers as about three trailers per tractor. Today, there seems to be a shift of focus toward asset optimization rather than driver performance monitoring. Fleets are working to do things like take their tractor to trailer ratio down, for instance. They are trying to do more with less.”
Another result of the recession is consolidation, which is continuing, he notes, and adding a wider than ever mix of equipment to fleets taking on the assets of companies exiting the industry. “Our software has an open API,” Montgomery says, “so we can take data from other devices and pull it into the same interface. This is helping a lot of carriers manage fleets of diverse equipment more easily.”
Two other areas where Montgomery sees new opportunities are the refrigerated market and intermodal. “There is a growing interest in basic temperature monitoring to document chain-of-custody in the temperature-controlled sector,” he says. “The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is also changing things by requiring proof of performance for reefer units. That is impacting refrigerated carriers nationwide and represents a new opportunity to meet new requirements.
“Intermodal also represents a real area of opportunity for us,” he notes. “We have a good pilot program going on now, in fact. What people sometimes don’t understand is that asset tracking is really an information industry. People want to know ‘Where’s my stuff?’”
To address changing markets and meet new demands, Montgomery says SkyBitz is building “a new product portfolio,” which will involve new relationships with new partners. One such relationship is with Iridium. The companies announced a strategic partnership today that will position Iridium as the first-ever provider of two-way global MSS for SkyBitz. Through this partnership, they intend to develop a unique, two-way, remote asset tracking and monitoring solution by integrating SkyBitz Global Locating System (GLS) technology with the recently announced Iridium 9602 satellite data transceiver.
According to Skybitz, the new Iridium-based SkyBitz solution will feature lower power consumption and a longer battery life than is commercially available today in the global tracking market. This solution will be built around the Iridium 9602, a small, lightweight and low-cost transceiver that enables global, two-way satellite links for low-latency, real-time data transmission. By integrating SkyBitz GLS technology with the Iridium 9602, the companies expect to create an open architecture and scalable platform that is not restricted to custom mobile terminal hardware.
“This partnership provides our existing and prospective subscriber base of several hundred thousand the ability to manage their assets for the first time ever on a global scale anywhere, anytime,” says Homaira Akbari, president and CEO, SkyBitz. “We are proud to be partnered with Iridium and we are committed to leveraging their unique capabilities for our new global two-way M2M communications solution.”
“Working with SkyBitz has the potential over time to substantially increase our M2M subscriber base,” notes Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “The adoption by SkyBitz of the new Iridium 9602 further validates Iridium as the platform of choice for global asset tracking.”
SkyBitz is a privately held company backed by CIBC Capital Partners, Highstar Capital, Inverness Graham Investments, Motorola Ventures and ITV, a fund of Cordova Ventures.