Austrian postal service and Australian keg company sign for 100,000 Sigfox trackers
Sigfox has announced deals with Austrian logistics and postal provider Austrian Post and Australian keg rental provider Konvoy Group, via local Sigfox operators Heliot and Thinxtra, respectively. Between them, the deals are worth around 100,000 connections by the end of 2020, reckons Sigfox.
The French IoT company said at its annual Sigfox CONNECT event today that Sigfox trackers have already been attached to 5,000 roll containers (by the end of November) and 20,000 kegs, with Austrian Post and Konvoy Group looking to increase volumes to 30,000 and 70,000 units, respectively, by the end of 2020, and in time for the festive season.
Austrian Post was introduced to Sigfox by DHL, apparently, which already uses Sigfox’s narrowband IoT network, under new management following the sale to Heliot in September, to connect 250,000-odd roll cages in 35 parcel centres in Germany. Austrian Post wants to kit-out the rest of its roll containers – for letters or parcels, alternatively, with each worth “a few hundred euros” – with trackers in 2021, without specifying the total size of its fleet.
Austrian Post has 2,000 sites. Its coverage goes beyond Austrian borders, into Germany, the Czech Republic, and other European countries. Heliot’s Sigfox network, the largest in Europe, covers Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, between the Adriatic to the North Sea. Austrian Post will use the same tracker devices, from Japanese electronics manufacturer Alps Alpine, as deployed by An Post in Ireland and Posti in Finland.
Meanwhile, Australian keg rental provider Konvoy Group, which serves the beverage industry, already has 200 customers tracking 20,000-odd Sigfox-connected kegs, said Sigfox. It will fit the trackers – developed by IoT developer operator UnaBiz, which runs Sigfox networks in Singapore and Taiwan – to 95 percent of its fleet in Australia and New Zealand, or 70,000 kegs, by the end of the year, said Sigfox.
Sigfox called it “the world’s first large-scale connected beer-keg solution”.
The story goes that both Austrian Post and Konvoy Group struggled to find tracking solutions that made sense before hitting on Sigfox.
The first was stuck on the price, with most trackers costing €100-€200 each, said Sigfox. The firm also cited a “lack of existing network infrastructure” from competitor networks, which “required the firm to set up supplementary communications infrastructure on site”. It wrote: “Due to complex installation and with many of the roller containers located at customer sites, this was not a viable option.”
Konvoy Group had been using passive RFID scanning technology (including barcodes and QR codes) to register and track kegs in distribution, but claimed scans were often missed, resulting in lost kegs and incomplete tracking data. So says Sigfox; the battery-powered passive beaconing solution from UnaBiz, called Kegfox, is programmed to send location data via Thinxtra’s network at regular intervals or upon specific events, such as moving or cleaning.
The Kegfox beacon features an accelerometer alongside, plus “built-in with algorithms”, and lasts up to seven years, apparently, transmitting location and temperature data “several times a day”. Konvoy Group’s new business division, Katch Asset Tracking, will offer solutions to other keg owners globally, said Sigfox. Craft breweries Moon Dog, Fixation, Parrot Dog, and Hawkers are using the solution, also to monitor the temperature of kegs.
Mathias Flandorfer, manager for strategic projects in the supply chain and IT division at Austrian Post, said: ”Tracking our assets will make a profound difference to our business. As we fit more roller containers with the new tracking technology, the Sigfox network will expand towards full coverage across Austria. Potential future use cases are endless – including fleet optimization, understanding if post boxes contain mail for collection and lots of other use cases to help increase efficiency and quality.”
Glen Robinson, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Sigfox, said: “We have recognized a significant challenge many industries face in creating visibility across widely dispersed and often fragmented supply chains. With visibility comes understanding, optimization and competitive advantage… Our partnership with Austrian Post will enable them to capture operational data, at the lowest total cost of data production, that will enable them to optimize their supply chain and logistics.”
Adam Trippe-Smith, founder and managing director at Konvoy Group, said: “When we first met Thinxtra, we already had a precise idea of what we were looking for. The solution needed to be robust, low-cost and last a minimum of five years. More than anything, we wanted to offer real-time information and high-visibility to producers and keg rental companies on their keg fleet and enable them to not only reduce loss but also optimize keg use.”
He added: “While we focused initially on tracking, this solution has given us the opportunity to also monitor the kegs’ temperature. Because most of the producers have unpasteurized beverages, leaving a keg at too high a temperature actually spoils the product. Being able to send an alert to our customer saying their keg has been transported at the right temperature is an important benefit for them.”
Ian Terblanche, senior vice president of global sales at Sigfox, said: “It is the perfect match for the exciting field of keg tracking and monitoring. Konvoy demonstrates that by being now able to differentiate its offer and provide a unique technological solution revolutionizing keg supply chain management.”