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By Fiona Hamann
March 18, 2019
One of Australia’s most prominent equipment hire companies, Kennards Hire has partnered with an IoT space startup Fleet Space Technologies to track location and monitor the performance of its equipment. The solution is quite literally out of this world.
Kennards has a vast network of 180 branches across Australia and New Zealand, hiring equipment for DIY and landscaping jobs, through to major constructions. Obviously, keeping tabs of the whereabouts and maintenance needs of all the equipment may turn into quite a labour-intensive and laborious process. Thanks to technology developed by Fleet Space, it is now able to locate, identify servicing issues, and monitor safety and environmental information of the equipment in real time.
Kennards General Manager of Strategic Projects Craig Kesby and Fleet Space’s entrepreneurial CEO and co-founder Flavia Tata Nadini both took time to talk to Jobsite ANZ about the project and its potential to completely revolutionise the building industry (or any industry, actually).
Fleet is connecting the Internet of Things around the world using a massive fleet of small, low-cost satellites. It provides clients with direct, global access to a secure, inexpensive low-bandwidth connectivity platform.
The platform is ideal for machine-to-machine data exchange and the deployment of IoT sensor networks at scale. The simple device setup is managed and monitored via a web interface with powerful cognitive analytics inbuilt. Flavia believes we are amid the next industrial revolution and that IoT will transform the way most industries work.
“We have leveraged an amazing and globally available protocol, the satellite-enabled LoRaWAN network which transmits information from equipment sensors into space and back, allowing movements to be tracked anywhere at any time,” Flavia said. “The satellites are small and easy to launch, only 10x30 centimetres or 10x20 centimetres long—as big as a shoe box.”
Craig explains why nano-satellite technology is a right fit for Kennards: “There are already a mixture of ways to collect data, such as mobile networks, Bluetooth and monitoring theft prevention and recovery that has been around for a while, but the Fleet solution means now it doesn’t matter if there’s a redundant mobile network link.
“Many of our clients’ worksites are remote and may be in mobile black spots. The satellite collection of data means we can reach everywhere in Australian and New Zealand.
“We can monitor safety efficiency and the environment, know where equipment is, as well as how much and how often it is being used. With satellite technology, we can feedback and give site managers an idea of what’s there in real time. It enables us to be more proactive. Our platform is available to customers and provides value to their business as they can see immediately what is happening on their worksite. We can also instantaneously pull environmental indicators that the industry must report on, such as fuel usage or Co2 emissions", Craig adds.
“Similarly, it gives our clients a great value-add in terms of efficiency and competitiveness. Construction can be completed faster and more efficiently, with less downtime, enabling contractors to move on to the next site and giving them a competitive edge.”
From a fledgeling startup, Fleet Space raised enough capital to launch its first four nano-satellites in 2018 on board SpaceX, Rocket Lab and ISRO. The startup has a tracking station outside of Adelaide. Ultimately, the company aims to connect millions of devices globally.
Flavia explained: “In January, we announced a project called Galaxy at the largest LoRa conference in the US. We offered devices for USD2, hoping to get good interest. We booked 3.8 million sensors in a week and will need to book more satellites to keep up with the demand.
“About 50 per cent of our orders are from the construction and mining industries, with another 40 per cent being taken up in agribusiness, for water, crop and pest management. The IoT is the story of the Industrial Revolution, with the potential to create a massive and affordable network of connected devices.”
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