Tool and plant hire firm Kennards Hire is partnering with Adelaide’s Internet of Things (IoT) startup Fleet Space Technologies to track its equipment across Australia and New Zealand.
Kennards will be one of Fleet’s first customers to connect to the start-up’s growing constellation of Centauri nanosatellites, which launched at the end of last year.
The first branch in the roll-out will be in Artarmon, New South Wales. Telemetry data from equipment there will connect via LoRaWAN to Fleet’s gateway device – The Portal – and then beamed into space and back into data centres.
The set-up will allow Kennards to monitor equipment movements “anywhere, any time,” Fleet said.
“By advancing how it operates asset tracking, Kennards Hire can provide new services for customers to work more efficiently, such as real-time reporting of safety and environmental metrics,” Fleet said in a statement today.
“Kennards Hire has long grappled with the issue of Australia’s fragmented connectivity when it comes to tracking its customers in the country’s most remote regions. The location and operational data collected by Fleet now enables Kennards Hire to undertake preventive equipment maintenance reducing the impact of down time on customer sites across its Australian and New Zealand network, including construction, oil and gas, and mining industries,” the company added.
The viability of the satellite solution has only become apparent in recent years, as nanosatellites and commercial rocket launches have become affordable.
“Fleet’s connectivity is an unparalleled solution, the cost point it offers allow us to connect more assets and provide more applications to customers increasing our value in the market,” said Craig Kesby, Kennards Hire general manager of strategic projects.
“In the past year, devices and connectivity solutions have become more cost-efficient enabling business cases that the industry couldn't justify a few years ago. Now, there are options for localised, low cost connectivity solutions and off cellular coverage out of traditional networks,” he added.
Fleet – which is backed by Blackbird Ventures, Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures, Horizon Partners, and the South Australian Government – has four nanosatellites currently orbiting earth.
Its Proxima I and II cubesats launched from New Zealand on spaceflight start-up Rocket Lab’s ‘It’s Business Time’ mission in November last year. Fleet’s first Centauri satellite – which weighs less than 10kg, and is roughly the size of a shoebox – launched on ISRO’s PSLV C43 mission later that month, and a second Centauri launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 SSO-A mission in December.
Fleet’s medium term plan is to have five satellites in 20 low earth orbits at a height of 580kms by 2021, ten of which are expected this year, depending on how fast it can secure launch services and about 12 ground stations to route traffic to and from the satellites. In the longer term the constellation will grow to 100 satellites.
The Kennards partnership is significant for the start-up, said Fleet CEO and co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini.
“Kennards Hire is an iconic Australian business renowned for disrupting the equipment hiring industry, and its digital transformation journey is no exception. Kennards is in a unique position to pivot their commercial models and offerings to make life easier for their customers,” Tata Nardini said.
“At Fleet, our mission is to unleash the endless possibilities of industrial IoT for businesses across the world, from space. Our partnership with Kennards Hire is an enormous leap forward to demonstrate the tangible business outcomes our technology is providing for industries on the cusp of disruption from equipment hiring, transport and logistics, agriculture and beyond,” she added.
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