After establishing Wise Telemetry in 2014, Eric Wise is looking forward to an exciting new era for the Pittsburgh-based provider of remote monitoring devices and services for the industrial gas industry. However, Wise wants to stress it is not all change for existing customers of its products following the acquisition of Wise Telemetry by Otodata Technologies Inc. earlier this year.
“For existing customers, this acquisition means more products at better prices, all while maintaining the excellent level of service our customers have always enjoyed,” Wise told gasworld. “Equally important is to stress what is not changing. We will continue to support all of our existing products, software, and online dashboard. No one will be forced to replace units or migrate to a new system as a result of the acquisition. Rather, they will continue to enjoy the benefits of telemetry, now with the backing of one of the largest telemetry companies in the world. It will only be a positive for our customers.”
Otodata Technologies designs, develops, and manufactures remote monitoring products and technologies for a variety of industries. Otodata’s monitoring software that accompanies the hardware allows users to monitor their tanks remotely, providing real-time data to drive asset and labor productivity in their business. The Wise Telemetry deal sees the Montreal, Canada-based company take a big step into the industrial gas industry.
Andre Boulay, President of Otodata, said key drivers behind the move were a shared vision with Wise Telemetry, and a belief that Otodata can offer industrial gas businesses the chances to deploy telemetry at scale in places where it was previously not possible.
“We have been leaders in the tank monitoring space for years with an emphasis on propane, fuels, lubricants, and even dry goods,” Boulay told gasworld.
“We see the industrial gas market as an exciting opportunity to bring our award-winning products to an additional vertical. Given the excellent fit between the Otodata and Wise management teams’ visions and values, acquiring Wise Telemetry was a logical choice to speed our entry into this market. Our primary focus will be to bring our low cost, high volume adoption model to the industrial gas market. By offering customers a very affordable solution with the lowest total cost of ownership, they will finally be able to deploy telemetry at scale in places where it wasn’t previously possible. We are going to see efficiency improvements that truly help a distributor’s bottom line.”
Boulay continued, “We have an interest in all aspects of the industrial gas supply chain, but we especially have interest in CO2/beverage gas, helium assets, high pressure cylinder bundle packs. Really, anywhere we can add value through monitoring is of interest to us!”
Telemetry is not a new trend, but Wise and Boulay are confident there is still a largely untapped market in the industrial gas industry for companies to adopt telemetry solutions. Wise Telemetry has the capacity to monitor every aspect of gas distribution from tanker trucks and bulk tanks to dewars and cylinders.
“While telemetry itself isn’t a new concept, we are ushering in a new age where it is much more widely used,” Wise said. “Less than 1% of all industrial gas assets have any type of remote monitoring today. Historically it was far too expensive to monitor smaller assets like liquid cylinders, bundle packs, or manifolds, but the combination of Wise Telemetry and Otodata has changed that. With monitoring rates starting at $2.50 per month and telemetry systems starting at $99, we have already begun to see action from distributors adding telemetry to their packaged gas fleets.”
Boulay revealed recent shipping numbers and expects demand to grow.
“The trend is definitely lower costs and mass adoption,” Boulay said. “We are currently shipping around 40,000 monitors a month and that will continue to grow, so there is definitely a lot of untapped market left!”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year, Wise has seen a particular uptick in demand for its products from the medical sector.
“The biggest place we have seen increased demand related to the pandemic is for hospital monitoring overseas,” Wise said. “Some of these hospitals had been considering telemetry, but the pandemic really sped up their timeline. Even before the acquisition, Wise was working with customers in foreign countries, but with Otodata, we are now in 15 countries.”
Otodata sells its tank monitors, management software, and mobile app to businesses all over North America. In December last year, CIBC Innovation closed a $7.5m growth capital financing with Otodata. It was announced at the time this capital will be used to support the company’s product diversification and growth across North America. Boulay explained Otodata already has products relevant to industrial gas companies and distributors and customers.
“Several of our existing Otodata products have already caught the eye of industrial gas companies and distributors,” Boulay said. “For example, many of Wise’s customers have propane tanks that are essentially unmonitored. Otodata’s products can easily and affordably fill this need. Additionally, we have developed a propane cylinder cage monitor that is suited for applications like cylinder cage monitoring at construction sites or convenience stores. Industrial gas customers are already beginning to deploy these solutions alongside their existing Wise fleet.”
Future growth, products
Wise insists the company will continue its development of new telemetry products after the acquisition.
“I think the future direction will continue to be smaller, battery powered devices that are tailor made to specific applications,” Wise said. “By designing devices with a specific, high volume application in mind, we are able to keep hardware costs low while optimizing battery life. Obviously packaged gas (especially CO2) is an area where we see room for additional products. However, now that we are part of Otodata, we will be developing more products for propane and other flammable gases, too.”
As for aims in the year ahead, Wise stressed the importance of users getting ‘the most value out of the data’. He said, “With the new combination of Otodata and Wise Telemetry, we anticipate 2021 to be another year of very strong growth. The combined offering is already giving customers more ways to monitor more assets for less money than ever before. We are also continuing to help our users get the most value out of the data provided by our devices. New software developments will help to accomplish this.”
At the start of this year, Renovo Capital, LLC, a Dallas-based private equity investment firm, announced it had acquired Otodata, four months before Otodata’s deal with Wise. Boulay says Otodata would not rule out further acquisitions in the industrial gas technology segment.
“We are always looking for good opportunities to grow our business whether that be organically or through acquisition, and the industrial gas market is an area of strong interest for us,” Boulay said.