Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Sigfox uses satellites to track sailors across all oceans

Steve Rogerson
December 17, 2019

Sigfox is working with French boat equipment maker Plastimo to offer total geolocation coverage across all oceans from 2020. The service will be supported by data from the ELO nano-satellite constellation, operated by Eutelsat, Sigfox's partner.
With more than 50 years of industrial expertise in the manufacture and design of safety equipment for boating consumers and professionals, Plastimo is constantly searching for performance and innovations. It turned to Sigfox’s 0G network to improve and broaden the application of digital technologies integrated into its safety equipment, with a specific requirement to locate seafarers quickly and reliably in the ocean.
"Our challenge is to improve safety at sea, by using the potential of connected solutions, and make our products accessible to as many sailors as possible," said Frédéric Blaudeau, marketing director at Plastimo. "By combining the expertise of our two companies, we can offer the boating industry an integrated, complete and innovative solution."
By partnering with Sigfox, Plastimo hopes to benefit from the future ELO nano-satellite constellation, deployed and operated by Eutelsat. From 2020, the constellation will support Sigfox's connectivity services, providing global coverage across all seas and oceans. Existing constellations, said Blaudeau, did not offer this geolocation functionality at an affordable price for the boating market, while ELO would soon support the location of a person lost at sea or shipwrecked in a Plastimo life raft or wearing a Plastimo life jacket, at a reasonable price.
"Today, Sigfox is able to meet the demand for both innovative and affordable connectivity," said Patrick Cason, managing director of Sigfox France. “Based on Sigfox technology, Plastimo is able to differentiate its products for general consumers, while also developing high-end equipment for increasingly demanding professional markets. For Plastimo, it is important to invest in technology and bring to market exclusive products, which meet the needs of all sailors when it comes to safety at sea.”
One of the advantages of the ELO constellation is that it uses the Sigfox protocol already available in more than 65 countries. The life jackets produced by Plastimo will be supported by either Sigfox's terrestrial network or its satellite network. Thus, life jackets can be located several tens of kilometres from the coasts of the many countries already covered by the Sigfox terrestrial network, before the ELO constellation is available. The first two nano-satellites will be operational in 2020.
Future Plastimo life jackets equipped with Sigfox satellite connectivity will be locatable across all oceans. The vests will be as just as comfortable and efficient as other Plastimo designs, and the connectivity will be simple to use and does not require heavy and bulky batteries to maintain power.
Established in Lorient since 1963, Plastimo Group specialises in the design, manufacture and distribution of equipment for pleasure boating and seafaring. On a site of almost 1000m², including the ISO 9001 certified factory, the team of 95 employees generates a turnover of €25m, 40% of which is exported.