Film industry supplier puts GPS in a starring role


A Canadian supplier of film production equipment, is looking to improve its monitoring and security system by retooling its GPS tracking system.

William F. White International has begun implementing the Sentinel-FM, a fleet management solution from Woodbridge, Ont.-based BSM Wireless, which will provide security, location, reporting and messaging capabilities for its fleet managers through GPS technology.

The system uses wireless data technology to communicate the information from BSM’s data servers onto the Internet, allowing its customers to access the information from anywhere using Web browser.

The William F. White fleet department has hundreds of trucks and trailers, carrying lighting equipment, cameras and generators all across the country, which makes tracking and maintaining the fleet a huge task.

“This system helps us know where our units are and how far they travel, so we’re able to schedule our servicing before the equipment gets into a critical stage,” Mark Scannell, shop foreman of generators at William F. White, said. “So, we can do things before they break, if we know the parameters and the life expectancy of the vehicles. With any luck the system will cause a significant decrease in our maintenance budget.”

Another aspect of asset monitoring that the company was interested in was to determine how often their equipment was being used. “This solution allows us to be able to track where the unit is and, importantly, when it’s not being moved,” Scannell said. “When we see the trailer [with the generator on it] stop, we’re able to track operating hours. This allows us to truly keep track of usage days, so when a customer turns it on for a day, they buy it for the day.”

In terms of security, the system can monitor vehicles for security breaches or theft and control critical vehicle functions. For example, unauthorized vehicle access will generate an alert notification immediately to the fleet manager; who can disable the vehicle via their computer.

“The user also has the ability to set up landmarks or ‘geozones’ as we call them, so if a generator is moved from this area, we will send them an email or system message to notify them,” Brad Macdonald, vice-president of operations at BSM Wireless, said. “We also have a security version of our hardware that provides remote controls for driver panic and things like that. So, if their’s an issue or an accident, the driver can press the panic button and dispatch will be alerted.”

Although William F. White was using a GPS system prior to the BSM solution, it was forced find a new vendor. Its previous provider used analog-based devices, which, as of May 31 of this year, were no longer available in Canada from major providers like Rogers Communications. Despite being forced into the change, Scannell said it was for the better.

“Our experience with BSM thus far has been quite favourable,” Scannell said. “It was extremely efficient in the installation, as the first units arrived and were installed within a matter of hours.”

Up until recently, Macdonald said BSM’s business was predominately focused on creating custom tracking and security solutions for bigger law enforcement agencies and security companies. But, he said that BSM is now concerned with making products like the Sentinel-FM more affordable and accessible to smaller companies.

“The upside now is that our platform is more widely accessible,” Macdonald said. “You can start with a very small system, so if you have a company with only 10 to 15 vehicles, you can use our software as simply a dispatch tool. But if you evolve and want to get a full-blown LTL system, we can actually integrate to it directly.”


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