Terion Inc., one of the first companies to market an untethered trailer tracking system, has been acquired by GE's Equipment Services, the world's largest trailer leasing and financing provider. The company will be integrated with the Equipment Services' Asset Intelligence division, which had developed its own trailer tracking system in recent years. The combined operations will have over 100,000 trailer tracking units operating in North America and Europe, according to GE's press release announcing the acquisition.
Some industry observers put the number of units owned by both much higher. Prior to the sale, “there were four [providers] neck and neck in terms of installed units,” says Clem Driscoll of the research firm C.J. Driscoll and Assoc. “Terion had over 100,000, SkyBitz over 100,000, Qualcomm about the same and GE was at around 80,000. We estimate that the total installed base of trailer tracking units is 450,000 to 500,000, so [the Terion acquisition] should clearly make GE the largest supplier of trailer monitoring services.”
The Terion and GE VeriWise tracking operations will continue to operate separately “over the next several months while the two businesses develop and implement integration plans,” according to a GE press statement.
One possible obstacle to the integration might be Terion's long-standing relationship with GE Equipment Services' competitor Xtra Lease Corp. All daily rental dry vans in the Xtra Lease fleet, as well as a number of its long-term leased units provide customers with tracking services through the Terion communications and data hub networks.
Although “it's still too early to know” details of GE's plans for Terion, according to Xtra vp-marketing Kathleen O'Leary, “as far as we know [GE] will continue to support our customers” using the Terion tracking system.
For its part, GE “will talk to all customers (including Terion's) because we're interested in servicing those customers and getting [tracking] units out to them,” says David Frail, a spokesperson for GE Equipment Services.
Terion and GE currently use different, proprietary tracking technology, including the onboard hardware and operating systems for those units. Terion also uses cellular-based networks for its two-way wireless communications, while the GE VeriWise system communicates over the Orbcom LEO (low earth orbit) satellite network.
“We actually saw [the different networks] as a reason to make the combination, not an obstacle to it,” says Frail. “Some customers want to use a cellular-based system, and others a satellite-based one.”
Similarly, Frail says the integration process will look to pick the best from each system. “The real focus [for GE's Equipment Services] is to help make supply chains more productive, and, take the uncertainty out of the transport of goods,” says Frail. “Asset intelligence makes that possible. That's the reason behind the acquisition.”
GE released no financial information about the acquisition of Terion, which was a privately held company.