Mobex Network Services (also known as Watercom), a provider of ship-to-shore communications in the inland waterways
, and StarTrak LLC, a provider of wireless supply chain management services, have partnered to deliver mobile asset
management solutions to the marine industry. Under this agreement, MOBEX will distribute StarTrak's products and services in the marine market throughout North America. StarTrak recently introduced the wireless communications product BargeTrak, a solar powered wireless solution contained in a single package about the size of a notebook. "BargeTrak is an important product that has been in development and trials for the past two years," said Tim Slifkin, StarTrak's founder and President. "In addition to offering increased security, we believe our solution will bring revolutionary changes to the inland and coastal marine industry with significant improvements in barge utilization, safety, and other operational efficiencies.” Although operators of tank barges will be an initial prime user of BargeTrak, hopper barge fleets
can also benefit from the information collected. In most cases, boats are in regular communications with their dispatch offices. But because of power constraints, barges are generally tracked via the towing vessels. BargeTrak's low cost and very low power consumption system enables the barges to be tracked underway, in fleets, or while at the dock. Information is transmitted from the barges based on parameters set forth by the users. Geofencing enables customers, dispatchers, and operation personnel to know automatically when barges reach a predetermined area or location. The operation of the system will be supported and monitored using Mobex's established network operations center. BargeTrak contains a two-way communications modem (satellite and cellular communications packages are available), GPS, intelligent electronics, and a variety of sensors depending on the customer requirements and the commodity being shipped. In addition to location information, BargeTrak automatically reports load status, draft and trim conditions, impacts, chemical leaks, and data from other discrete sensors.