CERT navigates concrete jungle

The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Technology (CERT), has scored the first of what it hopes will be many contracts for its Falcon telematics devices.

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By  Michele Howe Published  December 10, 2006

The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Technology (CERT), has scored the first of what it hopes will be many contracts for its Falcon telematics devices. While the first deal, with UAE concrete firm Unibeton Readymix, is worth in the region of US$500,000, CERT — the commercial arm of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in the UAE — expects to generate sales in excess of US$100million from the devices, which it developed with IBM. Unibeton, which has more than 350 trucks, will use a telematics system to relay information regarding its operations back to its control room. The data can relate to a number of factors such as the position of the vehicle, whether a truck is delayed, whether it is in the right location, if it is being driven erratically, and if it is unloading concrete in the correct location. A second phase of the collaboration will allow Unibeton to monitor the condition of the concrete itself. “What they are trying to do is be more efficient in the way they deliver their contract. Unibeton has six batching plants around Dubai and getting concrete there at the right time and right condition is quite a task,” explained David Hall, CEO of Cert Telematics. The devices enable Unibeton not only to improve its timeliness but also to monitor more closely the location of vehicles, an important factor given the lack of proper addresses in the UAE, Hall said. The concrete firm is due to start full-scale deployment this month having already begun a pilot programme. CERT picked up the Unibeton contract at a Roadex exhibition held in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The Unibeton contract, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Hall, who said the telematic devices’ official launch at last month’s Gitex trade show attracted “enormous” interest. “We had interest from gover- nments, not the UAE government necessarily, that were interested in security — tracing vehicles, stolen vehicles and so on.” “We had interest from big fleets delivering goods around the Middle East, from taxi companies and emergency services, as well as interest from cities looking at city centre congestion.” Hall claimed that CERT netted a number of other contracts at the show; one in the UAE of a similar size to the Unibeton deal has already been signed, while another in the UAE is due to be signed. On the strength of the interest so far, Hall predicted first year sales for its telematics devices to hit US$20million. Telematics solutions enable remote access to vehicle data over a wireless network using the satellite global positioning system (GPS) in conjunction with GSM and GPRS digital mobile network. The Falcon telematics device works by being connected to the vehicle and receiving and storing information on various factors including fleet management, trip compliance, vehicle tracking, and speed control. It uses multiple microprocessors based on IBM’s power architecture, as well as a number of other sensors, to monitor the vehicle’s movements. Similar products already exist in the UAE market, but are simpler off-the-shelf devices, primarily used for tracking, Hall explained. CERT’s telematic devices are more sophisticated, more leading edge in terms of functionality and also more upgradeable, he claimed. Another element of CERT’s devices is customisation to the specific requirements of the client, Hall said. “The interesting thing about this is, the more enquiries we get, the more applications we uncover and we still haven’t really identified all of the uses that we can put this to. That is one of the things that makes it exciting,” he revealed. “Our target is anyone with a large fleet of vehicles and where those vehicles are required to deliver something at the right time, to the right place and in the right condition,” he went on to add.

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