There's still a lot of trailers that don't have tracking...and that's an opportunity: Spireon

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With new financial backing, Spireon is looking at the significant portion of the trucking sector that still isn't tracking their trailers with a GPS system.

Spireon recently had Greenbriar Equity Group come in as an equity partner, buying out the full stake in the company that had been owned by Bertram Group. The size of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Roni Taylor, Spireon vice president strategy and business development, said in an interview that Greenbriar is an "enthusiastic" investor that should open up doors for the company.

"They feel like they are going to be able to expand our reaches and accelerate our growth," Taylor said at Spireon's booth at the American Trucking Association's Management Conference & Exhibition in Austin. "They can make introductions to potential customers for growth, but also for potential partnerships."

With those introductions, it could help Spireon go after what remains a market that is far from saturated. Taylor said it was her guess that only about 35% of trailers on the road have a GPS tracking device. While the trailer tracking segment is only about 20% of Spireon, it is the group that Taylor is part of.

With a relatively low cost to get tracked--about $10 a month after an initial outlay of several hundred dollars--the question is: why so low?

Taylor thinks the wind-down of the ELD implementation period will help her company's efforts. "Up until last December, everybody was worried about the ELD mandate," she said. By contrast, there has never been a mandate to buy technology for trailers.

But now, with that requirement mostly behind it and capacity an issue, Taylor thinks Spireon has an opportunity. "They need to improve the number of turns per trailer so they can handle all the loads that industry is facing right now," she said. "So we're finding that we have so many more new adopters with customers that have never had anything on their trailers."

Current customers with trailer tracking are likely to be larger firms, according to Taylor. But more recent growth would be in companies that Taylor said have between 500 and 2,000 trailers. The ratio she uses is that a company normally has between two and three trailers per tractor. But for those with trailer tracking, "it could be three or more." If your company has less than two trailers per tractor, you're not likely to have trailer tracking, she said.

Taylor thinks the wind-down of the ELD implementation period will help her company's efforts. "Up until last December, everybody was worried about the ELD mandate," she said. By contrast, there has never been a mandate to buy technology for trailers.

But now, with that requirement mostly behind it and capacity an issue, Taylor thinks Spireon has an opportunity. "They need to improve the number of turns per trailer so they can handle all the loads that industry is facing right now," she said. "So we're finding that we have so many more new adopters with customers that have never had anything on their trailers."

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Current customers with trailer tracking are likely to be larger firms, according to Taylor. But more recent growth would be in companies that Taylor said have between 500 and 2,000 trailers. The ratio she uses is that a company normally has between two and three trailers per tractor. But for those with trailer tracking, "it could be three or more." If your company has less than two trailers per tractor, you're not likely to have trailer tracking, she said.

That discussion about what companies are using trailer tracking focuses solely on the truckload segment. The reason? LTL trucks have essentially zero use of trailer tracking, Taylor said. "They were late adopters of ELDs, so now they all had to make the plunge late," she said. As Taylor put it, they're now realizing that there's a lot of other technology out there.

She said she would expect that the larger LTL companies would be the first to adopt trailer tracking technology. She also said Spireon is working on an LTL-specific feature in their trailer tracking technology that is "quite revolutionary." "I can't go into detail but there is a functionality that is being added to this platform that really solves some big problems for the LTLs," she said.

Another recent push at Spireon is what it calls its Intelliscan Cargo Sensor, which is essentially a combination photo and laser technology that replaces a sonic-based system. As Spireon said when announcing the system back in July, "trailer operators will be able to better monitor cargo, manage detention and improve service to shippers...the goal of each of those systems is to tell a customer that there is freight in the trailer."

That report--whether there is or is not freight in the trailer--is what will come out of the Intelliscan system now. But eventually, photographic images will be provided to the customer as well, Taylor said.

Taylor said there was no specific new markets that might be pursued as a result of the Greenbriar investment. "I don't think we're ready to say we're going to jump into a new segment quite yet, but I think with new investors, everything becomes an open book and we'll look for other opportunities."