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Otodata – the next chapter

Originally published in gasworld US Edition, Special Feature, p. 46-48, May 2024 by Christian Annesley

Remote monitoring business Otodata has a new CEO in Jeremy Eaton. Christian Annesley caught up with him to hear his vision for the business.

How does the new CEO of an established remote monitoring business keep up the momentum for the next chapter of growth? For Jeremy Eaton, who has recently taken over at the helm of Otodata, headquartered in Montreal in Quebec, it comes down to continuing to ensure that the company’s customers are satisfied and succeeding at every level.

“This has been Otodata’s focus since day one – and will continue to be our guiding principle,” he says at the top of the interview. “And I see tremendous potential to scale our capabilities while holding onto that core value. It’s this that will allow us to better serve our current customers while expanding our presence globally.”

Eaton says the company today has an “unequalled” monitored base of customer businesses that gives it a larger and richer understanding of the challenges these varied operators face. That’s because the insights keep flowing for Otodata, as well as giving individual customers actionable insights every day. “That’s the beauty of a business like ours, of course. And this gives us the capability at every step to have an even larger impact on our customers and their business priorities from year to year.”

Potential for growth

As Eaton gets more established in the hot seat as CEO at Otodata, he says he is seeing more and more ways for the business to carry things forward from here.

“I’m excited about so many things here, but what jumps out is how Otodata is the clear leader in our space, but with so much potential for further growth. That growth should flow both within our current focus areas and in new ones.”

"Last year, we completed a nationwide installation campaign to adapt 3,000-plus legacy telemetry systems on bulk tanks for a customer”

Another part of the story that Eaton singles out is how much potential there still is for Otodata and its customers to further leverage advanced analytics to deliver additional insights and value.

“In that sense, we are just getting started,” he says.

New models, new solutions

“Many of our customers are excited about the outcomes they can get from monitoring, but they also have concerns around their own ability to install monitors in the field and even practical constraints around Capex budgets preventing them from adopting monitoring solutions at the rate they’d like,” notes Eaton.

“To address this potential blocker, we now have models that can alleviate these concerns and constraints, like Hardware as a Service – HaaS, for short – as well as Tank Monitoring as a Service [TMaaS].”

The company is quickly scaling its TMaaS offering today, to the point where it now has a coast-to-coast, turnkey deployment model.

“Last year, I should add, we completed a nationwide installation campaign to adapt 3,000-plus legacy telemetry systems on bulk tanks for a customer. On the propane side of our business, we have along the way installed 150,000 systems in the past 18 months alone. It’s quite an expansion story.”

What other tech advances or other developments are around the corner?

“You could say our most recent technological advance was the introduction of a 100% wireless monitoring system for liquid cylinders,” says Eaton.

“In partnering with Rotarex on their now-industry-standard C-Stic Lite, we are able to wirelessly monitor assets where previous systems, using scales or pressure sensors, were too cumbersome or expensive.”

And the early reception of this technology has been very positive, he says, with projects

underway in places ranging from Japan to California to Puerto Rico and beyond.

“The other big change is the expansion of our installation services. his will be a game-changer for packaged gas customers, particularly in the field of beverage CO2,” Eaton adds.

Tools for a diverse customer base

Otodata addresses the diverse needs of its customers is through the business models it offers. 

Customers can either purchase the hardware in a traditional model or they can lease the hardware in a Hardware-as-a-Service model (HaaS). The HaaS model works well for companies that are looking to do large telemetry deployments without committing large amounts of capital expense. In this model, they effectively get an instant return on investment. 

The company also caters for different customer needs in the types of products it offers. While many traditional telemetry applications are stationary, such as bulk and microbulk tanks, Otodata says it is seeing an increased interest in mobile applications such as liquid cylinders and cylinder bundle cradles. For these mobile applications, it offers fully battery-powered devices that are easy to transport because they do not need to be plugged in or have a solar panel. The battery life is north of 10 years in all cases. 

Every customer relationship typically starts with understanding the client’s goals. What are they looking to optimize? What are their current procedures? From this, Otodata evaluates the asset types are in the fleet and which products are best suited to monitor them. The final piece in the puzzle is a deployment plan, including a week-by-week schedule for roll-out. Otodata says nearly all its best products and features come from customer feedback. 

Megatrends in industrial gases

Eaton signs off by noting how three megatrends continue to impact the sector.

The first is the ubiquity today of sensors and connectivity. The second is the continued ever-lower cost of data storage and compute. And the last is the continued extension of battery life.

"less than 1% of all mobile assets are monitored today"

“Otodata has been at the forefront of leveraging these larger megatrends for our monitoring customers,” he says. “We pioneered the use of extremely-long-battery-life devices, as well as creatively utilizing an array of connectivity technologies. While most bulk tanks in the industry are monitored, less than 1% of all mobile assets are monitored today. That’s a real opportunity – and we intend to continue innovating to help our customers realise the benefits of monitoring to all their mobile gas assets.

Jeremy Eaton – a brief history

Eaton has spent the last 15 years building and scaling IoT businesses across a range of industries, with many of them in energy or energy- related industries.

At Honeywell, he led the company’s Smart Grid and Connected Home businesses during the early days of IoT and he was able to leverage that experience more recently at the analyst group McKinsey. Here, right up until his move to Otodata, his focus was helping clients embark on their own IoT journeys.

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