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ORBCOMM launches VTS solution for fishing, marine leisure sectors

Communications systems solution provider ORBCOMM has developed a cost-effective Vessel Tracking and Monitoring System (VTS) specifically for the South African commercial fishing and marine leisure sectors.

The system has full approval from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). In accordance with the Marine Living Resources Act (1998), any vessel for which a fishing licence has been granted in terms of Section 39, must be equipped with an automated satellite-linked VTS. This system must be able to automatically transmit messages to a land-based fishing-monitoring centre, allowing for continuous tracking of the position of the vessel.

In conjunction with Radio Holland, a global navcom, connectivity, onboard ICT and service and maintenance specialist, ORBCOMM collaborated with DAFF for a year to perfect a VTS in accordance with its specific requirements. With more than 1 500 commercial fishing vessels operating in South African waters, this represents a significant target market.

“We have pending contracts with leading players in this industry, all based in Cape Town, on the table,” Henry Smith, Vice President Sales – Africa, ORBCOMM reveals. In addition to the DAFF-approved VTS, a marine-certified system is available for use in coastal waters elsewhere in Africa, specifically Namibia and Mozambique.

Henry Smith, Vice President Sales – Africa at ORBCOMM

The ORBCOMM-developed VTS was signed off officially by DAFF in March, followed by the launch of a concerted marketing campaign. “A main driver for us has been the price-point of the system, in order to make it affordable for both companies and individual fishing-boat owners. What we have achieved is a sub-R10 000 VTS that really talks to the needs of the industry,” Smith highlights.

The development of the DAFF-approved VTS represents a significant investment on the part of ORBCOMM, which is a dominant player in marine tracking globally. It is one of only a handful of service providers to own its own Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network installation-

Smith explains that ORBCOMM was approached by Radio Holland about a year ago, as the solution it had provided DAFF was nearing the end of its life. DAFF required a new solution that embraced the latest trends and technological development. “We offer marine monitoring on a daily basis through our IDP 690 engineered solution, which is a satellite tracking unit built specifically for the marine space.”

However, DAFF had specific requirements it needed ORBCOMM to comply with, including real-time, always-on coverage, as well as onshore and offshore capability. “We worked closely with Radio Holland to design a solution that worked on GSM (inshore) and satellite (offshore), at a highly competitive price,” Smith elaborates.

The DAFF requirements had to be adhered to strictly, as they had been incorporated into the relevant legislation. “At the end of the day, our VTS carries full ICASA approval, which is important for the local regulator. Another prerequisite was an IP67 protection rating.”

The latest technology incorporated into the VTS from ORBCOMM allows boat owners themselves to keep track of their vessels. “Our VTS platform is available as an Internet-based solution, or as a mobile app, giving individual customers real-time visibility of their fleets. The system has been very well accepted by the industry, due mainly to its innovative features and cost-effectiveness,” Smith concludes.

ORBCOMM provides advanced communication systems for the control and management of remote assets, using reliable and cost-effective satellite and GSM data communication systems throughout Africa and around the world. An industry pioneer in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, and a global leader in Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, ORBCOMM enables the remote tracking, monitoring, and control of industrial assets and people.

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