Connecting the world’s assets – A portrait of ORBCOMM

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TOC business fair in Hamburg, Wednesday 15.06.2016.  The team of Combined Transport is meeting ORBCOMM to understand how intermodal transportation in Europe can benefit from ORBCOMM’s IoT solutions. As a global leader in the end-to-end Machine-to-Machine infrastructure, ORBCOMM provides devices, networks, applications and support for loading unit visibility, remote control and analytic insight.

According to Mrs Rutherford (Vice President of Marketing), ORBCOMM’s strategy is to achieve growth for their European business, which includes entering into additional M2M and IoT vertical markets and expanding the multimodal tracking capabilities by introducing leading-edge M2M and IoT applications, offering customers a broad range of satellite and cellular connectivity options.

Before discussing the product offering and partner ecosystem in depth, a couple of figures to set a frame of ORBCOMM’s business activities. Total revenue in 2015 amounted to USD 178 Million with an adjusted EBITDA of USD 42.3 Million. ORBCOMM counts 1.6 Million subscribers to their services globally. Amongst 560 employees in 15 countries are 300 engineers, 45 services and 35 sales personnel. ORBCOMM has registered more than 100 patents, for example for the satellite technology OG2.

Frank Ribbe (Senior Sales Manger) explains that the satellite connectivity options of ORBCOMM enable connection even in areas with low cellular coverage. By leveraging the enhanced capabilities of ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellite network, the firm can reduce the time interval in delivering messages and data, or network latency, in almost all regions of Europe. The new OG2 services also increase the data rate and message size capabilities. On July 14, 2014, ORBCOMM launched six Generation 2 (“OG2”) satellites aboard a Space Exploration Corporation (“SpaceX”) Falcon 9 launch vehicle. On September 15, 2014, following an in-orbit testing period, the commercial service for the six OG2 satellites was initiated, which provide both M2M and IoT messaging and AIS service for global customers.  On December 21, 2015, another 11 OG2 satellites were launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. On March 1, 2016, following an in-orbit testing period, ORBCOMM initiated commercial service for the 11 OG2 satellites. The satellites communication can provide both M2M and IoT messaging and could function as an AIS service for the multimodal transport market in Europe.

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Falcon 9 transporting 11 OG2 satellites of ORBCOMM, Source ORBCOMM

Frank Ribbe (Senior Sales Manger) continues that in addition to satellite data communication, ORBCOMM has partnered with leading telecommunication conglomerates around the globe including AT&T, Orange, T-Mobile, Telefonica, Verizon, Rogers and Vodafone. At Combined Transport Magazine, we see this as being ORBCOMM’s main competitive advantage. The company has a dual offer: a cellular network connectivity and global, two-way satellite data communication connectivity.

Looking further at ORBCOMM’s portfolio, Mr Ribbe demonstrated a range of low-cost sensor devices, such as the GT 1100 trailer tracking solution and the GT 2300 intermodal container monitoring solution. The GT 2300 is a self-powered system with cellular communications and GPS, providing valuable insight into the status, movement, loading and unloading of container operations. By leveraging powerful telematics capabilities integrated with intermodal information systems, the GT 2300 enables operators to optimise container utilisation and movement. Thirdly, ORBCOMM’s RT 6000+ is a two-way, dual-mode reefer monitoring and control device that provides comprehensive fuel and temperature management, maintenance and logistics services for temperature-controlled cargo. The sensor devices are cost competitive and can, therefore, be a viable option for multimodal IoT solutions.

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ORBCOMM’s GT 1100 trailer tracking sensor, Source ORBCOMM
Besides network connectivity and hardware, ORBCOMM also offers holistic software solutions, for example, CargoWatch. CargoWatch is a trailer tracking application optimising logistics/freight management solutions for transportation service providers operating a dry van and mixed dry van/refrigerated fleets.
This telematics application uses ORBCOMM’s own trailer tracking devices to deliver visible fleet status and exception reporting for fleet optimisation and improved ROI. CargoWatch delivers near-real-time alerts on trailer status, location, history, and arrival/departure, helping significantly improve operational efficiency, fuel and maintenance costs and cargo security. A second application that can be relevant for intermodal transport companies is Coldchainview. Optimised to work with ORBCOMM’s Euroscan-branded temperature recorders and modules, Coldchainview is a powerful web application enabling real-time monitoring and management of food, pharmaceuticals, live animals, electronics and other refrigerated assets within the cold chain. The result is improved end-to-end operations and total assurance from the product’s point of origin all the way to the end customer.
To give readers a more in-depth understanding of ORBCOMM’s ecosystem, we now discuss some of the strategic partnerships. Major OEMs have signed long-term agreements, such as Caterpillar Inc., Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd., Komatsu Ltd., Volvo Construction Equipment, Doosan Infracore America and China International Marine Container Company.
In addition, ORBCOMM provides a comprehensive global AIS data service, enabling governments and commercial customers to track more than 150,000 AIS equipped vessels worldwide, facilitating maritime surveillance and intelligence. Amongst some of ORBCOMM’s customers are  Walmart, Thermo King, Canadian National Railways, Target, Marten Transport, Prime Inc., Swift Transportation, Tropicana, Tyson Foods and Werner Enterprises.
Lastly, let’s revisit ORBCOMM’s growth strategy. The company has completed multiple acquisitions during recent years. On January 1st, 2015, the acquisition of SkyWave for a total consideration of USD 130.2 million was completed. On January 16, 2015, ORBCOMM completed the acquisition of InSync for an aggregate consideration of USD 11.1 million. The acquisitions support ORBCOMM’s strategy to provide a complete set of applications and capabilities in the M2M and IoT industry.