Cellular M2M and Satellite-based GPS – The PB&J of Fleet Management Solutions

Robert Metzler

While many consumers who rely daily upon location tracking, mapping and driving direction solutions leveraging technologies from leading brands, such as Garmin and TomTom, believe their solution to be a relative new-comer to the technology marketplace, their historical roots are actually derived from B2B commercial solutions first launched in the early 1990s. B2B applications leveraging GPS technology were first invented and deployed for commercial trucking fleet owners and operators to power automatic vehicle location (AVL) and fleet/logistics management, helping to reduce theft, save fuel costs, increase safety and demonstrate compliance with various regulatory laws aimed at the highly regulated fleet management industry.

Logistics management applications often rely on in-vehicle GPS to pinpoint the locations of vehicles or goods in transit. The first solutions offered were satellite based which made them expensive and had demonstrable weaknesses such as the inability to return a result if the truck was out of line of site with the satellite (ex. in a parking garage). Today, it is more than likely to be cellular M2M networks transmitting these locations and other critical pieces of data back to a central location, providing better and more reliable coverage for a fraction of the cost. And, cellular M2M solutions provide a rich set of ancillary features which were not traditionally available to satellite-based systems.

For example, M2M sensors can monitor vehicle speed, alert the driver and fleet company of maintenance issues, send alerts if the vehicle is idle for an extended period of time, report an accident, track driver behavior, monitor the temperature of a cargo hold (especially important in cold-chain logistics) and even note how many times the cargo doors are opened. This data gets communicated over M2M networks, enabling dispatchers and other personnel to improve operational efficiencies and customer service with route and workforce optimization.

More and more of these commercial grade solutions are actually capable of providing both satellite-based results in combination with cellular results. GPS and M2M are two highly complementary technologies, and their marriage is becoming more widely adopted across a number of industries. Some fleet management applications now rely on both of these networks to pinpoint the locations of vehicles and assets. GPS satellites have trouble penetrating buildings, covered trailers or parking garages but tend to provide a more accurate location in rural areas. While typically not as accurate, cellular M2M networks can triangulate the location of objects through most of these types of structures, providing critical location data for any object, nearly 100 percent of the time. This is essential for security functions where a redundant solution featuring technology fail-over is critical, such as hazardous freight management.

The combined strengths of GPS and M2M will continue to produce new applications to benefit organizations who want to communicate reliable location-based and operating data from across the globe. The Consumer Electronics Association earlier estimated that 17.4 million units would be sold in the U.S. in 2010 – putting sales on track to surpass 2008's 15.1 million units.

Bet you'll look at your Garmin or TomTom a little bit differently the next time you get in your car.

Robert Metzler, EVP Sales and Marketing
With over 20 years experience in leading winning sales teams, Bob joins KORE to drive adoption of KORE in the market by capitalizing on our unique service, management and billing capabilities, coupled with the most comprehensive and skilled network of partners, all dedicated to delivering the most reliable and relevant solutions for our customers, every day.

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