Electronics manufacturer Navman is introducing nationwide fleet tracking and in-vehicle cellular services today, using Telstra's GPRS and GSM networks, and the satellite-based global positioning system (GPS).
The Fleet Manager service and Halo devices - being launched at Freight Congress 2003 in Melbourne - also signal the launch of Navman's Wireless Australia division.
Wireless Australia national sales manager David Maire said half a dozen Australian firms are currently in pilot mode, including one with the potential for 250 vehicles. Maire would not name the customers but said three are manufacturers and one is in the waste processing industry.
Navman has a history in marine GPS and recently launched into in-car navigation. It has beem operating such fleet management services in New Zealand, UK and Europe since last year. It is a New Zealand firm of which 70 percent was sold to NYSE-listed Brunswick Corporation for NZ$56 million in June.
The Wireless Australia launch is the first outing for the Halo Voice product internationally. This system harks back to the original rugged carphones with a fixed cellular handset and handsfree capability working across the GSM system.
Navman Wireless Data Group executive vice president Jamie MacDonald said this will save a lot of 'superglueing' of mobile phones into handset cradles to cradles. 'They don't want them going walkabout, ' MacDonald said.
Halo Voice adds GSM telephony to the original roof-mounted Halo product which MacDonald said is suitable for traditional transport logistics and the field sales and service sector. It can reduce waste through cutting out wasted trips, reducing false overtime, and lead to higher load utilisations, he said.
Halo sends GPS location data in real time through the GPRS network to a hosted server. The client PC only needs an Internet connection and the Navman client software, which is similar to a browser and shows location in map form.
Back-at-base operators can see such details as a vehicle's location, speed, direction and ignition status. The GPS data can be sent either at fixed intervals, or after set distances.
Halo also provides a text based messaging service using an accessory called the MDT-800. This has an LCD screen and keypad. Customers can also add PDA solutions to take further advantage of the data communications facility.
The equipment can be leased or costs A$1,400 per vehicle unit ex GST, or $1,900 with the halo voice option, and $495 for the MDT-800. The software is hosted at $50 per month per vehicle for plus data charges at $10 for a month per vehicle would cover typical usage of the Halo and data terminal. Mobile phone charges are extra.