Canterbury firm keeps global truck fleets on track

A Canterbury company is to tout its satellite-based truck tracking system to potential US buyers, saying the local market is too small and disparate.

A Canterbury company is to tout its satellite-based truck tracking system to potential US buyers, saying the local market is too small and disparate.

Electronics start-up Telogis, an offshoot of Christchurch-based South Pacific Electronic Design Associates (SPEDA), has launched OnTrack into the Californian market. OnTrack is an internet-based fleet tracking system that uses global positioning system technology to track vehicles and display their position on an internet-linked screen at the fleet’s headquarters.

The US move follows SPEDA releasing similar products in New Zealand and Europe, though Telogis co-founder Marcus Clyne says the New Zealand market is too small for OnTrack and has too many owner-operators.

Clyne says SPEDA has operated for five years as a research and design consultancy for New Zealand and US companies, specialising in mobile telecommunications. This experience led to the launch early last year of the Telecom Easytrak system, an internet vehicle locator that works over trunked mobile radio. The technology was then used in a joint venture with Tait Electronics to produce Tait’s iLink system, which since last year has been trialled in Australia and the UK.

When US phone giant AT&T rolled out its cellular data packet data phone systems in California last year, SPEDA saw exciting prospects in the US and created Telogis for the role four months ago. This push culminated late last month with Ontrack’s launch at the CITA Wireless 2001 convention in Las Vegas and the signing up of a California distributor - GPS Fleet Management.

Clyne says the California distributor will serve the western US, and complement a Telogis staff member there. Some small fleets have already bought the product and the product will be rolled out across the US this year. “We are looking to ramp up to 1000 units a month by year-end,” he says.

He says his tracker devices are aimed at smaller fleet operators with up to 50 vehicles. It costs $US700 ($1700) a unit and $US30 a month wireless internet access charges per connection.

Telogis plans future features such as despatch and messaging systems and monitors for measuring storage temperatures in vehicles. “Taking mobile data and presenting it across the internet in a way useful to business,” says Clyne.

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