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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the Trailer Fleet Services division of GE Equipment Services yesterday formed an agreement in which GE will supply Wal-Mart with trailer-tracking technology for its fleet of 46,000 over-the-road trailers.
The technology, called Telematics, is the integration of wireless communications and sensor-generated information about freight and equipment status. GE's telematics product, called VeriWise Asset Intelligence, is a dual satellite system that enables precise and timely monitoring of trailer assets -- even when they're not connected to a tractor.
"When our shipments are in transit, it's important for us to know at all times their whereabouts and the interior condition of the trailer and its contents," said Tim Yatsko, Wal-Mart's s.v.p. for transportation. "GE gives us a technical solution that can be integrated across our supply chain and gives us the foundation of an information-based approach to managing it more efficiently. The solar-charging capability in VeriWise also supports our 10-year trailer maintenance requirement as well as our sustainability efforts."
Yatsko also noted that adding trailer-tracking capability gives Wal-Mart greater supply chain visibility, and that GE's technology platform appears flexible enough to support the company's present and future plans for using telematics data.
First introduced by GE in April 2003, VeriWise consists of a fully protected trailer-mounted transceiver, a discreet antenna, and a patented power management system. The system uses the Orbcomm low-earth orbit satellite network, and is supported by GE's Asset Intelligence business in Barrington, Ill., with research and engineering resources from GE's four global research centers.
Wal-Mart will also be using two recent enhancements to VeriWise capabilities: an interior-mounted cargo sensor and a solar trickle-charging system to further extend battery life.
Wal-Mart used its existing trailer leasing relationship with GE's Trailer Fleet Services business to make known its trailer-tracking needs. The installation of VeriWise on the Wal-Mart fleet is expected to be completed this year.