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September 9, 2002

Telematics comes to the marine industry

Put simply, the term "telematics" is what happens when you combine computer and telecommunications systems. Now,cutting edge telematics applications are being made available to the U.S. marine industries.

Satamatics-Americas has announced that MOBEX Network Services has agreed to be a Satamatics Telematics Application Service Provider.

MOBEX, based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is the company that acquired WATERCOM from American Commercial Barge Lines. In this latest venture it will supply FCC authorized Satamatics asset-tracking services to the commercial and recreational marine industries in the U.S. and throughout the Americas, working in conjunction with Satamatics-Americas, based in Ocala, Fla.

Key commercial uses for the services include asset tracking for barge owners and operators, an area where MOBEX already has an extensive track record. The potential barge market alone in the U.S. for the MOBEX/Satamatics service can be measured in the tens of thousands of units.

The MOBEX/Satamatics' telematics solution makes it both economical and easy for barge owners to check the position and cargo status of their valuable assets at regular intervals, via programmable solar-powered satellite transceivers, communicating over the Inmarsat satellite network to office computers using secure internet connections.

Status reporting can range from simple position information or monitoring water levels in voids within a barge, to controlling pumps automatically or monitoring and reporting virtually any measurable parameters, such as the many operating systems of tow boat engines.

The term telematics defines systems that combine computer and telecommunications operations. Applying satellite-based telematics to the gathering and reporting of information pertaining to any and all measurable parameters enables real-time global monitoring, tracking, control and data acquisition to be truly ubiquitous.

MOBEX director of marketing Ged O'Connell explains: "Satamatics has control of its own network from end-to-end, including operation of its own satellite gateways. This allows us to provide reliable communications, based on Satamatics' proven, stable platform. Combining this level of stability with the broad flexibility of Satamatics' low-cost transceiver hardware enables us to offer very economical services for a huge variety of asset-tracking applications. These services will be delivered direct to customers' desktops via the internet. We have immediate demand from our existing customer base, and although our initial focus will be on the commercial marine market, we are also seeing interest from the recreational and marine charter sectors, and we will be applying the same technology to the railway industry and to road transport. The rental industry, from cars and trucks to heavy plant and agricultural equipment, also represents a prime area for us, as does any application where an owner needs an economical method for tracking the position and operational status of their remote assets. The solutions that have come out of our partnership with Satamatics provide both our companies with the potential for rapid service take-up."

According to Richtec, Inc.(Satamatics-Americas) president, Gerald A. Gutman, "MOBEX will be using Satamatics' SAT-TDi Intelligent Satellite Terminal, which combines a GPS receiver with a D+ transceiver system, and offers two-way messaging with remote control capability. It can be interfaced to a variety of sensors and controllers, capable of switching external equipment, when a particular condition or position has been reached or exceeded. The SAT-TDi Terminal communicates at programmed intervals, providing position and status reports. The data is transmitted via Inmarsat's geostationary satellites to Satamatics Satellite Gateways, which are installed in strategically located land earth stations to provide seamless global coverage."

About MOBEX MOBEX, centrally located in the US, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, has more than 17 years' proven track record in the marine electronics and telecommunications industries, and has pioneered the use of terrestrial wireless communications for inland waterways. The company has an extensive data management infrastructure, providing customer-ready applications where required, together with 24-hour direct support for customers and Internet Service Providers. MOBEX also owns radio spectrum in 45 of the top 50 metropolitan areas in the US and is currently building out dispatch systems in those markets. Additionally, MOBEX operates MOBEX Managed Services, a systems integrator and a provider of field service applications.

MOBEX acquired WATERCOM in September 2000 from American Commercial Lines and continues to operate a wireless telecommunication system that covers over four thousand miles of Inland Waterways in the US. WATERCOM pioneered the use of fax machines, duplex voice and end-to-end data on the inland waterways system. WATERCOM also brought television tracking satellite antennas to the industry that allowed users to receive digital programming.

Satamatics is a division of Satamatics Ltd (and part of the Richtec plc group of companies) Satamatics occupies a dominant market position in the telematics industry, due to its unique ability to provide coverage across all the world's oceans -- including the Pacific region -- using the Inmarsat D+ satellite network. By maintaining operational control through its own gateways to the Inmarsat network, Satamatics can scale its service capacity to suit demand, removing any oversubscribing limitations, as well as providing a stable and secure communications medium, with fast reporting.

Headquartered in the U.K., Satamatics has a centralized data-handling center in London, with satellite gateways installed in strategically located Land Earth Stations around the world. These provide genuinely global coverage across the world's ocean regions and land masses -- for fleet management, asset tracking and tracing, controlling and monitoring remote sites, and for security applications. Satamatics' information services operate via the well-proven Inmarsat D+ satellite network, and the company is unique in being able to provide coverage across the Pacific Ocean region, and throughout the US.

Satamatics' worldwide telematics services provide the enabling technology for track and trace monitoring, two-way messaging and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) capabilities for remote installations. The company's satellite-based solution overcomes the issues associated with the sparse or non-existent coverage offered by conventional land-based wireless infrastructure in many countries, and provides seamless coverage across land and sea. An integral part of the company's service offering is its unique design of remote transceiver -- an intelligent, configurable terminal capable of processing and logging data locally, and remote re-programming. The whole system is geared to ensuring end-users receive only the specific information they need when they need it -- rather than raw, unwanted data at inflexible intervals.

Satamatics Ltd and Satamatics-Americas (a division of Richtec, Inc.) are part of the Richtec plc group of companies, which has a long history of close involvement with Inmarsat, and is active across a range of communications, electronics and process control technologies.

For more information, please email Satamatics-America, Richtec, Inc. 3300, SW 34th Avenue, Suite 104, Ocala, FL 34474 or

MOBEX Network Services, 453 East Park Place, Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130,