Orbcomm launches on-board vessel LoRa service

  • November 30, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Orbcomm has expanded its portfolio of on-board vessel IoT systems to include LoRaWan technology through a partnership with Irish IoT service provider Net Feasa.

New Jersey-based Orbcomm has deployed the first commercially available service using LoRa technology to monitor containers on board vessels for a large global shipping line.

The service combines VesselConnect, Orbcomm’s refrigerated container management application, with Net Feasa’s EvenKeel IoT device connectivity, management and services platform. Refrigerated containers communicate in real time through LoRa gateways mounted in strategic locations on the vessel. Key container data, including temperature, humidity and alarms, are collected in EvenKeel and updated in VesselConnect.

The VesselConnect application communicates over satellite back to Orbcomm’s land-based platform, enabling users to see the location of all vessels as well the status of each container on board from a single command and control centre. The integrated system supports two-way commands, allowing users on the vessel or at land-based operations to change the container’s temperature set points and other parameters.

The on-board vessel IoT is designed primarily to eliminate the black hole of refrigerated container visibility at sea. In addition, it helps users enhance crew efficiency and safety by eliminating the need for manual inspections of the containers and improve operational efficiency through remote pre-trip inspections along with actionable data on maintenance and repair status.

“Orbcomm’s new LoRa-based on-board vessel IoT complements our best-in-class portfolio of refrigerated container management and further demonstrates our commitment to continued innovation supporting the global supply chain,” said Christian Allred, Orbcomm’s senior vice president. “Together with Net Feasa, we’re helping shipping companies drive digital transformation, while achieving measurable savings.”

The LoRa-based system is compliant with Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) IoT connectivity standards created to make the shipping container supply chain more transparent, reliable and secure. As one of the DCSA-approved technologies for on-vessel operations, LoRa offers an alternative to cellular and other communication technologies.

VesselConnect provides multiple choices for on-board vessel network connectivity so the technology can be used in ways that best suit the use case.

“As global concerns for cargo quality and security as well as traceability increase, the real-time tracking and monitoring of refrigerated containers is becoming the industry norm,” said Mike Fitzgerald, Net Feasa’s chairman. “We’re pleased to partner with Orbcomm to bring our expertise in global IoT networks together with their leadership in innovation and compliance with IoT industry standards to the global container marketplace.”

Net Feasa is an IoT service provider based in Ireland and California dedicated to the digital transformation of the supply chain. Its compliance-based connectivity is embedded in the heart of global communications networks and supply chains. EvenKeel can support LPWAN (LoRa, NB-IoT and LTE-M) and cellular (LTE and 5G).