The wireless communications industry is an ever-changing business segment that requires constant adaptation by manufacturers, marketers and customers alike. CalAmp has stayed at the top of this market for more than 30 years by remaining nimble enough to customize applications for clients at a moment’s notice.
“We have been doing this for quite a while, and we offer products that are at the leading-edge of technology,” says Neil Friedlander, vice president of operations for CalAmp. “We have a good breadth of products in diverse markets, and we’re willing to customize for an application. A lot of our competitors have a product, but if you don’t like what they have, you’re out of luck.”
CalAmp develops and markets wireless communications solutions that deliver data, voice and video for critical networked communications and other applications. CalAmp has three business units: Mobile Resource Management (MRM) focuses on leading-edge devices that serve the fleet management, asset/trailer tracking, stolen vehicle recovery, vehicle finance, and insurance customers; Wireless Networks (WN) provides software and solutions spanning the utility, energy, rail, governmental and enterprise customers; and Satellite provides innovative products to the North American direct broadcast satellite (DBS) television market.
The MRM business is the fastest-growing unit and offers:
- Cellular GPS tracking hardware
- Embedded applications
- Robust device management and service enablement platforms
Through its WN segment, CalAmp provides wireless communications technologies that include Software as a Service (SaaS), solutions and applications services to wireless networks and mobile resource management markets for applications including:
- Optimizing and automating electricity distribution and ancillary utility functions;
- Facilitating communication and coordination among emergency first-responders;
- Increasing productivity and optimizing activities of mobile workforces;
- Improving management control over valuable remote and mobile assets;
- Enabling novel applications in a wirelessly connected world.
The satellite segment develops, manufactures and sells DBS outdoor subscriber home equipment for standard and high-definition satellite TV reception. CalAmp’s DBS reception products are installed at subscribers’ homes to enable access to television programming signals and in-home networking from telecommunication satellites.
CalAmp boasts a global presence with offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Asia, and remains a market leader in high-reliability machine-to-machine (M2M) devices with approximately 1 million devices shipped in 2012.
The company’s client base includes a mix of satellite television providers, tier I railroads, fleet management firms, local governments, energy and utility companies, heavy equipment manufacturers, insurance companies, auto finance companies and stolen vehicle recovery companies.
“Most of our products and solutions are deployed for a very long time, and customers require long-term reliability,” Friedlander says. “We focus on providing the highest-value products and solutions, which means high-quality, long-term reliability and exceptional functionality along with excellent lifecycle support – all at competitive prices.”
In an industry where the next technological advancement that changes the game is always on the horizon, it is imperative for companies like CalAmp to stay abreast of these advances. “It is crucial that we stay in the forefront of our technology,” Friedlander says. “We constantly evolve in our offerings in our hardware and software solutions.
“Understanding the future of wireless means that we not only comply, but also are involved in the development of innovative technology to meet the needs of the various markets we serve,” he adds.
Most recently, Friedlander explains CalAmp has updated its hardware products for rail and Positive Train Control (PTC) compliance as well as for FirstNet/B14, which is a communication server used by first responders nationwide. Similarly, the company has updated its SaaS for mobile applications for vehicle finance or fleet management customers.
“Although hardware is a large component of our offerings, CalAmp is also a complete solutions provider, providing not only the devices and industry-leading embedded firmware, but a range of market-leading software applications and a platform our customers can build upon,” Friedlander says. “We’re proud of our ability to provide customizable, highly differentiated products and solutions that provide our customers a distinct advantage in time-to-market and a meaningful and clearly demonstrable return on investment.”
Supply Chain Support
With customer needs changing almost weekly in the wireless communications industry, CalAmp needs suppliers who can keep up with the pace of these evolving demands.
Friedlander says CalAmp manages this portion of its operations with frequent communication with its suppliers to help plan projects accordingly. For instance, with its partners in Asia, the company sends hundreds of emails per week to monitor ongoing supply inventory operations planning.
“We are in a rapidly changing environment, launching several new products each quarter, regularly adding new customers and partners, and frequently processing design iterations to meet customer and market opportunities, which drives us to continually pursue competitive quotes and support from our ever-expanding supply chain,” Friedlander says.
As CalAmp continues to grow, however, its suppliers have been put on notice that they must maintain the quality CalAmp’s reputation has been built upon to remain in its base. Friedlander says CalAmp has instituted more competition among its suppliers, including demanding 100 percent turnkey components with zero consignment.
Friedlander also says the company conducts more testing at the supplier level to ensure quality at the source while forcing more costs into the supply chain. The company also rewards its key component suppliers with long-term agreements and partnerships for maintaining these quality standards.
“[Our suppliers] are a competitive advantage for CalAmp,” Friedlander states. “They offer the flexibility, scale and cost structure that allows us to win business in challenging situations and delight customers.”
Onward and Upward
Like many companies, CalAmp has recovered from the economic downturn that started in 2008. Friedlander is proud of the unfettered growth the company is experiencing as the economy begins to thaw.
“After going through some tough years in 2008 and 2009, we have come out stronger than ever and are experiencing exceptional growth,” Friedlander says.