New security system can freeze cargo thieves in their tracks

by James Menzies

RICHMOND, B.C. – The next time a truck or cargo thief tries to make off with a load, he may find himself stopped dead in his tracks thanks to a Canadian security system attracting a lot of international attention.

The Bulldog Online Security System (or Road B.O.S.S, as it is commonly referred to) was developed in Richmond, B.C., but trucking firms from as far away as Europe have been flocking to the company for more information.

The satellite-based security system has the ability to cut off the power to a stolen truck, leaving the thief scratching his head as the rig slowly coasts to a stop. While that option will surely excite truck owners who have been victimized by cargo thieves in the past, there are a number of different packages available, so a fleet or owner/operator can purchase the system that best suits their needs.

The standard Road B.O.S.S. consists of an 18-inch device that attaches to the rear door of the trailer. It sends a signal to the driver’s pager every 10 seconds, from up to 2.4 kilometres away. When the trailer door is tampered with, the driver will be notified within seconds.

Whether grabbing a cup of coffee or reading the local paper in the driver’s lounge, the driver will be notified of the attempted theft in plenty of time to report it.

“It seems to be the only product like it in the world,” says Bulldog Technologies president, John Cockburn.

The new security system was unveiled at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas last September and already the world’s largest insurance broker says it will encourage insurance providers to offer reduced rates to carriers who use it.

Marsh Canada, the Canadian division of U.S.-based Marsh Inc., has been impressed by product demonstrations and is eager to promote it to insurance providers.

Morris Biddle, managing director of Marsh Canada in Vancouver, says his company is optimistic the system will save insurers money.

“We have only recently been introduced to this product, but we are very bullish on it,” says Biddle.

“From every demonstration we have seen, it works, but the proof will be in the pudding. Now it needs to get out to the market.”

With cargo theft costing the insurance industry US$20 billion per year in North America, it’s little wonder the industry has been quick to throw its support behind the new system.

James McMillan is the director of sales and marketing for EMS Technologies’ Satcom division in Ottawa, Ont.

His company was responsible for manufacturing the pocket data terminal (PDT) used by the system and he is confident it will be a success story within the industry.

“We’re optimistic from the point of view that it’s been getting a lot of attention from insurance companies as well as a lot of attention since Sept. 11 as far as just overall security is concerned,” says McMillan.

“All trucking companies are concerned with knowing where their vehicles are, especially if they’re carrying any type of hazardous materials.”

While EMS has been involved in countless vehicle tracking projects, this is the first security system of its kind to hit the market.

“This is the first one that gives instant notification,” says McMillan.

The basic system costs $1,195, with the full package including tracking and truck-stopping capabilities running a fleet about $3,000. Bulldog recently signed a distribution agreement with Group Hesse in Quebec, and it will be available through more OEMs before long.

“We have a distribution network we are putting in place right now,” says Cockburn.

While Bulldog is still in the process of getting Road B.O.S.S. into the marketplace, it has already expanded the product line to include the Yard B.O.S.S. – a security system that uses the same technology to protect entire yards.

“You can have 2,000 units or even more than that in a yard reporting every 10 seconds,” says Cockburn.

“This works with the existing PC in the building and triggers an alarm on the roof of the building (if a unit is tampered with).”

One of the top selling points for both units is their ease of use, insists the company.

“We tried to make this system as simple to use as we could,” says Cockburn.

“You take the unit out of your truck when you park anywhere, snap it on the back, turn your pager on and you’re now protected,” he concludes.

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