Fleet Remains Strong Worldwide Location Market

October 23, 2014  - By
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Photo by born1945 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by born1945 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Because of nonstop government regulation, which can help and hinder the trucking industry, the mobile resource management market will continue to be one of the strongest location segments. In other news this month, while it doesn’t get much bigger a deal in the location industry than a $2.5 billion purchase, as in the case of Qualcomm buying CSR, one smaller deal that should not be overlooked is ST Telecom’s acquisition of Shopkick, a growing indoor location provider.

SAN DIEGO — The global trucking market for fleet management products has always been strong — and one of the first location segments to have prospered over the last 15 years. This market growth will continue because of new technology and government requirements, say attendees at the American Trucking Association annual management conference here.

An American Transport Research Institute report offered at ATA, “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry – 2014,” outlines 10 issues, mainly driven by government regulation, that concern fleet owners.

One of the big issues is hours of service (HOS). Rules adopted by the feds require 11 hours of driving — and a 34-hour break before restart. This includes a 30-minute break before driving again after eight hours. ATRI believes these rules cost carriers $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion annually in driver pay impacts.

An electronic device (ELD) mandate requires all drivers to keep records of duty status via a logging device. A mandate could come in 2016 that outlines hardware specs.

Another big issue is truck parking — and could be an opportunity for mapping and location companies. Because HOS regulations require drivers to take many breaks, shortage of parking is a big and dangerous concern because drivers are operating beyond allowable rules to find areas to park. ATRI wants closed public rest areas to reopen. They want real-time truck parking information availability and trucking parking reservation systems.

Driver distraction in the form of texting and driving is a growing concern. ATRI wants the feds to ban hand-held cell-phone use/texting for all motorists, encourage harsher penalties and more aggressive enforcement, and to continue to research to understand the size of the distracted-driving problem.

Other issues include driver shortage, health and retention; compliance, safety, Accountability (CSA); and congestion funding.

“My takeaway from [ATA’s] luncheon panel was that the trucking sector is in pretty good shape overall, except for the driver shortage. In regard to mobile resource management (MRM), I would estimate overall growth in in-cab and trailer monitoring at less than 10 percent per year,” said Clem Driscoll, president, CJ Driscoll Associates. “The Truckload sector is heavily penetrated with in-cab solutions. Most large carriers have a system. CSA is motivating some sales to mid-size fleets, but many small fleets are waiting for the ELD regulations. So, the delays with ELD regulations have probably been slowing market growth.”

Such companies as AT&T are trying to address the growing trucking requirements with new and existing products. For example, Saia LTL Freight, a trucking and logistics company, is managing its fleet of trucks with several AT&T products. Saia drivers are using handheld computers to connect with dispatch managers and monitor fuel consumption, safety, and location using AT&T’s wireless network.

“[SAIA] is a trucking company that is using all our capabilities. We partnered with them from an early stage, starting with the [Electronic Device Mandate] requirements,” said John Moscatelli, AT&T advance resource management solutions director. “Then we helped them with rugged handhelds and voice where necessary.”

Overall, Moscatelli sees a few fleet trends emerging. “There have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions in this industry. I also see that trucking companies are very aware of forced hours of service regulations for every company [mandated by the government],” he said. “It will not necessarily be the first adopter of technology that will be needing units. We have looked at the demographics, and even small and medium fleets are going to need affordable connected systems. The other trend is the growth of government sales — local, state and federal — very strong.”

Targeting a large worldwide market, Trimble has acquired several companies in the fleet space in recent years. One of them is Minneapolis-based PeopleNet, which is gearing up for the ELD mandate with an “Internet of Transportation Things” strategy that includes multiple devices talking to each other, said Randy Boyles, company senior vice president, tailored solutions.

The company rolled out its Wi-Fi-enabled in-cab scanning feature at ATA that allows drivers to scan and transmit transportation documents.

PeopleNet, along with ALK, GEOTrac, Vusion and TMW Sysems, are part of Trimble’s Transportation and Logistics division. Trimble has allowed their purchased companies to operate autonomously.

“About 95 percent of our management team is still intact. TMW still works with Omnitracs and others, but you will see a convergence with [other Trimble companies],” said Boyles, who believes that oil and gas pipeline monitoring/mapping is a growing niche.

The fleet and enterprise market is a growing space for Magellan, said Mark Perini, company associate vice president. The company has been offering its Magellan RoadMate 9496T-LMB Android unit for the fleet market.

“The unit enables bulk updates using our smart GPS technology. The Android operating system has been a growing technology for fleets,” Perini said. “The HOS regulations require reporting of how many hours truckers are off duty. With our management system, operators can implement a full set of protocols [to achieve HOS compliance]. It’s on a server, so the driver can’t change anything.”

Telogis Partners with Ford

Telogis has grown from a small company to a major player in the fleet market. The company recently announced it will be the “technology provider” for the Ford Crew Chief in North America, which is an expansion of its European partnership with the automaker.

In Europe, Ford’s telematics products will be offered to customers as a dealer-installed option and will feature vehicle location, diagnostics and performance.

The company has also been a major player in the U.S. market, integrating into Volvo Link, said Kevin Moore, Telogis vice president of OEM sales at ATA.

“While the trucking business is huge, the aftermarket is also growing,” he said. “While location information is central to what we do, we are constantly growing the platform. We are looking to be the only product that provides crowdsourcing for the commercial market.”

Even though the U.S. fleet market is growing, other world markets are growing by double digits each year. Driscoll, in his China Commercial Telematics Market Study, says the Chinese markets are growing at 20 percent, or more, each year. “China is manufacturing over 600,000 commercial trucks per year for internal use, so the addressable market is growing at a very fast rate,” he said. “China has a very inefficient logistics system and spends far more on logistics than the U.S. or Europe as a percentage of GDP. The government is very aware of the problem and is mandating the use of satellite tracking solutions in a number of sectors. Systems being sold in China today typically support both GPS and BeiDou (Compass).”

In other ATA news:

  • Orbcomm rolled out its GT 1100 chassis tracking solution to allow trucking companies to monitor where their rigs are located. It also allows operators to see if a trailer is mounted.
  • 10-4 Systems is offering real-time data products NonStop, NonStop Mobile and NonStop premium. The company has a track/trace asset management capability for operators.

Qualcomm to Buy CSR for $2.5 Billion

The recent announcement by Qualcomm saying it would buy United Kingdom-based CSR for $2.5 billion signals continued inroads into the connected car and Internet of Things markets for the San Diego company.

In 2009, CSR, which stands for Cambridge Silicon Radio, purchased SiRF Technology, a GPS pioneer that was making huge strides in indoor location technologies. CSR, mainly known for its wireless Bluetooth technology, has chips in such products as audio speakers and Apple-owned Beats headphones.

The connected car market will be a big one for Qualcomm in the future. The connect car market, a dominant topic at most wireless trade shows, is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research. Another research company, SBD, has even higher expectations for the technology, saying the connected car market will grow to $54 billion by 2018.

Macy's plans to add Shopkick indoor location beacons in preparation for holiday shopping. (Photo by Nicholas Eckhart is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Macy’s plans to add Shopkick indoor location beacons in preparation for holiday shopping. (Photo by Nicholas Eckhart is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Shopkicking It at Macy’s

In another big industry acquisition, SK Planet, part of South Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom, bought indoor location provider Shopkick for $200 million. The sale indicates how valuable the worldwide indoor location market is becoming.

Macy’s announced it was installing 4,000 Shopkick beacons prior to the holiday shopping season, according to published reports. The company has nearly 8 million active users and relationships with 20 retailers

In other location news:

  • General Motors OnStar is arguing for less restrictive open Internet rules for wireless carriers, according to published reports. OnStar argues that future connected services (Wi-Fi hotspots, wireless collision avoidance systems, streaming video and audio) that are going into cars make the net neutrality issue vital for the auto industry. The auto giant, which works with such carriers as AT&T Mobility, is siding with the wireless carriers in their battle with the FCC over net neutrality.
  • A number of location companies, and companies using the technology, are seeing major investments. Most notably, INRIX received a $55 million investment from Porsche. XAd, which develops mobile advertising products, received $50 million in funding from a number of partners. Geofeedia, an LBS social media monitoring company, raised $3.5 million. The company gathers social data from such sources as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and others.
  • Nokia’s HERE mapping platform is now available on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. The HERE app, available in Samsung’s Galaxy App Store, will run on devices operating Android 4.1. Currently, Google Maps is the default mapping service on Android phones. However, the HERE platform gives consumers another Android option.
  • TomTom said it has “extended [its] location-based services product portfolio with an online turn-by-turn navigation service” with support from deCarta. While TomTom has many customers, including Apple, it has never offered an off-board, server-based navigation service. Industry sources say that this announcement will allow TomTom to better compete in the Internet of Things/connected car market.

About the Author:


Kevin Dennehy is GPS World’s editor for location-based services, writing a monthly column for the LBS Insider newsletter. Dennehy has been writing about the location industry for more than 20 years. He covered GPS and location technology for Global Positioning & Navigation News for seven years. His articles on the wireless industry have been published in both consumer and trade magazines and newspapers.

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