Connecting machines and sensors

Prasanna Iyengar, Director of Product Management, Skylo

What are your best-known solutions/products/services?

Skylo envisions a world where connectivity for machines, sensors and devices is as ubiquitous as the sky — offering a low-cost, global fabric of connectivity for machine data that can be transformative for entire industries around the world. Skylo is an end-to-end solution, consisting of its Skylo Hub, its immersive Skylo Data Platform, and its Skylo Satellite-based Network.

Skylo connects machines and sensors anywhere on earth, even if there is no cellular coverage. Existing networks have been designed and built to connect people. But, the world’s machines, especially those in remote and underserved areas like rural highways or out on farms require a reliable network that is 100% continuous and covered. Using Skylo, connected industries, such as logistics, can enhance operations, and traditionally ‘analog’ industries, like fisheries and farming, can benefit greatly from deploying efficient and up-to-the-minute IoT connectivity.

The equivalent of a Wi-Fi hotspot in size, convenience, ease of installation, and affordability, the Skylo Hub is a new kind of plug & play device for IoT that makes communications seamless. Our Hub connects (through a wire or wirelessly) to sensors, vehicles or vessels, whether stationary or on-the-move. Easy to access for immediate use in the field or in the command center, the Skylo Data Platform runs on mobile, tablet, or desktop, giving customers the ability to ‘sense and see’ their business activities in real time to take action. The Skylo Satellite Network makes it possible to provide an affordable, end-to-end solution to customers, especially in under- and unconnected rural areas. Skylo gives people the ability to make smart, transformative decisions powered instantaneously by data transmitting from affordable sensors on every machine, everywhere.

Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest?

We aim to deliver a future where anyone can connect and receive continuous information about their personnel’s safety, fuel levels, machine health, fleet location, soil moisture, and thousands of other applications. Skylo is working with government customers, small and large enterprise customers, and individuals to deploy solutions across the country.

  • Fisheries & Agriculture: Skylo is helping drive productivity and safety in both the Fisheries and Agriculture sectors through connectivity and IoT data that can transform the way fishermen sell their catch while still at sea, or how farmers intelligently sow and harvest crops more predictably through on-farm sensors.
  • Machine rentals: Skylo radically expands options for entrepreneurs and industries interested in sharing their equipment — whether it’s a tractor, a truck or a backhoe loader. As an example, construction companies can monitor where their equipment is and know fuel levels at all times, check on the equipment to understand how it’s being used and if it’s in good shape, benefit from predictive maintenance alerts; get alerts when something needs to be fixed or adjusted to ensure minimal downtime, and keep an eye on assets and ensure renters are taking good care of equipment.
  • Logistics: With sensors integrated on trucks and cargo, and Skylo’s always-available data, fleet operators get constant visibility on their goods in transit. Data collected from vehicles on the road gives drivers and fleet operators the ability to understand their equipment – temperature of refrigerated cargo, operation of digital locks, fuel levels, machine health, route changes, location – so drivers are safe, delivery times are met, and goods in transit are secure & delivered as per customer expectations.

What are your most recent product innovations? What’s the latest news from your company?

Skylo partnered with BSNL to commence PAN-India commercial operations, including serving customers that need connectivity over the Indian seas.

Skylo has also recently announced its partnership with Beetel, a leading brand with a vast distribution capability to meet India’s digital needs. This strategic partnership scales Skylo’s Solution giving Governments, Enterprises, and Small-to-Medium Businesses a virtual data lifeline across India. The Skylo platform is now available through Beetel’s expansive network. Skylo’s disruptive technology, together with Beetel’s customer base, strong network, and experience in telecom, data, IT sales and services, will rapidly propel the Indian market.

Skylo, alongside its strategic partners, will continue to advance Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a ‘Digital India’ by connecting machines and sensors, so that businesses can understand, manage, and predict specific aspects of their operation in order to make better decisions. Additionally, Skylo’s full-stack solution including hardware is indigenously developed under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, resulting in highly affordable, easy-to-install devices, coupled with its immersive dashboard for easy access to information from remote locations on mobile devices or desktops.

What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?

India has always been a country of knowledge & innovation, and now making significant advances in data. What we’re particularly excited about is how Indian companies are leveraging our platform. This will help us create a solution that is globally exportable and made not just for India but for the world.

There are 3 major barriers that we’ve seen to implementing end-to-end IoT applications:

  • The High and Unpredictable Cost of Connectivity
  • Difficult to Deploy an End-to-End Solution (sensors + radios + network)
  • Many areas around the world suffer from Limited, Unreliable, or No Coverage at all

Skylo offers a platform that allows customers to install the Hub, turn on the mobile or desktop platform, and everything just works. Customers can immediately start to send and receive messages from their machines or sensors. The cost of the Hub is disruptively affordable, and the monthly fees amount to less than a cup of chai a week.

2020 was a good year for the Internet of Things (IoT) but 2021 promises to be even more exciting. Large enterprises are set to adopt IoT for machine connectivity at an astounding rate. As a result, companies can do much more — and earn both competitive advantage and meaningful revenue gains in the process. It’s no longer, “How can I track my package?” It’s now, “How can I enhance my customer experience?” And the answer is IoT, with insightful solutions built on IoT data.

How does business in 2020 compared to previous years? What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?

We’re incredibly excited by what’s ahead. Of course, we would like to become the de-facto standard for enterprise IoT. We set ourselves up for success last year, and used the opportunity to prepare for notable scaling. We’ll continue to advance our solution sets to meet customer needs and applications, and we will continuously add important features to the Skylo Platform. Our distributors, OEMs, and systems integrators will find it easier to work with us as we offer them our developer-friendly API.

Most importantly, our number one priority is to help our customers find tremendous value as they use our platform. Especially post pandemic, connectivity now more than ever has become crucial across the globe and IoT has become key to harness and leverage machine data in a big way. Today, our end-to-end solution is already being integrated on trucks, fishing boats, and all types of equipment. We’re working closely with world-class partners, from Beetel and Sony to SoftBank, as we scale rapidly. We’re excited to help our customers reimagine – and deploy – the possible.

Ensuring Safe Covid Vaccine Logistics is now possible – GPS will play a major role in ensuring “Chain of Custody” of the vaccines, and our end-to-end solution offers an effective way to drive and monitor that entire process. Data that’s recorded from temperature sensors in the reefer cargo and the vehicle itself is communicated through the satellite-based, narrowband Skylo Network to our immersive platform, Skylo Hub. Our always-up, always-accessible connectivity ensures insights at every point for users.

Can you tell us about any of recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?

Skylo’s reliable, affordable, continuous solution has already proven significant for fishermen. On Nov. 26, seven fishermen aboard a small fishing boat off the coast of Maharashtra in western India were panic-stricken when their vessel was damaged and began to sink. Using its satellite-based BSNL-Skylo 2-way Communication technology , the boat was able to raise an alarm with the boat owner as well as with the Maharashtra Coastal Security. Using a two-way communication system, it was clearly able to communicate its exact location, and provide support on time to help save the lives of the seven fishermen.

Skylo’s ubiquitous network solution aims to lend its innovations to help build a truly Digital India, one that’s helping industries – Logistics, Fishing, Agriculture, Railways, Disaster Management etc., intelligently connect through transformative tools and processes to enhance safety and productivity.

Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?

Skylo is the first company to offer a narrowband IoT over satellite end-to-end platform, this means that anyone can connect their machines, devices, and assets and get reliable, always-on connectivity to understand more about a particular part of their business — whether it’s location of a fishing vessel, fuel in a truck, acreage covered by a specific tractor, or end to end temperature readings on a vaccine from point ‘a’ to point ‘z’. The platform is not only reliable and continuous, but it’s affordable and easy for anyone to set up and deploy (comparable to a modem).

Could you please share your views on the Cold Chain Sector for our magazine readers?

Cold Chain Logistics is crucial from the point of view of the impacts it has over every step of the supply chain, from supply procurement to transport, storage, transport to customers.

COVID Vaccine Chain of Custody is a current topic, whereby Governments and private players across the value chain need well-executed logistical plans that ensure safe pharmaceutical transport. As the world awaits COVID vaccines, it’s imperative to know, with unimpeachable accuracy, that containers carrying these life-saving pharmaceuticals have maintained a steady, consistent temperature throughout the journey. The ability to prove constant and continuous stability is critically important when it comes to pharmaceuticals to ensure temperature deviations don’t impact efficacy.

And that’s what Skylo delivers, giving regulators, hospitals, and drug recipients peace of mind that pharmaceuticals were handled with care and chain of custody maintained along the entire journey.

  • Transporting a vaccine from point to point, while ensuring a constant temperature
  • Understanding where a logistics truck is currently located, and how we can align the rest of the supply chain with the truck delivery upon arrival to its destination to minimize downtime and make customers happy as they receive deliveries on time
  • Transmitting alerts in case there is an issue with the truck, the driver or the cargo, and ensuring that there is minimal downtime in the logistics chain

Our success depends on the value we offer by enabling customers to save time, money, and increase their ability to be more efficient and secure. At the end of the day, we are offering insights to ensure positive outcomes, and in this case, to quite literally save & transform lives.

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