US freight-tracking company Locus Traxx has chosen Wallonia’s Vitrociset Belgium as a partner in its bid to move into the European market. The Florida-based specialist in real-time monitoring of perishable or high-value goods shipments is initially investing around €2 million in a joint venture with the local subsidiary of Italian company Vitrociset.
Based in Libin in Luxembourg province, Vitrociset Belgium specialises in technology and software for satellite applications. The joint venture, Locus Traxx Worldwide Europe, aims to create a system that tracks not only the location of a shipment but also a range of parameters such as temperature and humidity or whether a package has remained upright. It is expected to create up to 40 jobs at the Galaxia European Space Applications Park in Libin.
Another objective of teaming up with Vitrociset is accessing the Europeanled Galileo global navigation satellite system, says Ray Hoffman, CEO and managing director of Locus Traxx in the EU. “We have satellite capability, but with someone with engineering and know-how in the satellite area and pushing forward on the Galileo space station, maybe there could be an opportunity for us in the future to use the Galileo satellite or one of the other lower orbiting satellites that we don’t use now,” says Hoffman.
Partnership with Vitrociset will also allow the company to move faster into the European market, Hoffman says. “When you have a new product coming to market, it takes a bit of time. You have to find a location and build it up. The opportunities that we saw would come to market much faster in co-operation with Vitrociset,” he explains.
The new jobs at Libin range from entrylevel technician posts to engineering positions and software programmers.
“At the end of this year, there are going to be 10 to 12 jobs, and eventually that will rise to 40. That’s a commitment we’ve made to the government in the Walloon region,” says Hoffman. In fact, the co-operation and enthusiasm of the
Wallonia government has been central to the agreement. “Because of who we are, and who we come to engage with, the Wallonia government has been particularly helpful by sponsoring us when we were signing the joint venture.”
Hoffman says he has received particular support from local politicians. “Everyone is excited about engaging with the new, leading-edge technology coming to this region,” he says.
The region’s low-density population and location in Europe are also strategically important for the company. “We need to have a bit more space in order to provide the logistics – for shipping out and bringing the product back in. Wallonia provided us with instant access to the Benelux region and port activity. We have a solution in Wallonia for that market,” Hoffman says.
The company says it will also benefit from the high number of qualified graduates in the region. “There are a lot of programmes in the bachelor fields in the universities that really are classified as logistics,” says Hoffman. “There aren’t too many logistic graduates in the Americas, but here you have graduates in logistics, finance and so on, and so the work pool for us is a bit more diverse. We can find young talent and incorporate it now.”
The system and service offered by Locus Traxx is particularly useful for establishing damage claims should the consumer and high-end products that it tracks become spoiled or damaged. It also allows shippers to take preventive measures. “Let’s say you’re a butcher and you want to make sure your meat gets to market without spoiling: you can use our systems to monitor the entire transport. It’s intelligent transport because should anything fall out of range in terms of temperature, it sends a message to you, and if that’s not acted on it has an automated isolation process, whereby if no one has taken action, we jump in because we have a large support team that calls the customer and says ‘Houston, you have a problem’,” explains Hoffman.
Locus Traxx’s experience so far in Wallonia has been entirely positive. “You see how warm and receptive it is, from the local government level to the highest level. So that’s a very encouraging sign – even the minister and the government called us and said, ‘Anything you need, let us know and we can help you.’ It’s very reassuring!”