“I suppose you could say we were dating at first,” says Michael Karlsen, CEO and co-founder of Onomondo, as he recalls his company’s first meeting with Danish shipping behemoth A.P. Moller – Maersk in February 2019.
He admits that the two companies were an unlikely corporate couple: the small, Copenhagen-based start-up IoT operator Onomondo with less than 20 employees, and the massive, 79,900-strong Maersk with its global fleet of over 700 vessels and 3.5 million containers.
The match was made by the Danish Energy Authority. “They knew we were very interested in how new technologies could give us more flexibility in the way we consume connectivity,” explains Klaus Bruun Egeberg, Head of Mobility and Connectivity at Maersk. “And Onomondo could offer us that.”
It is a relationship that has developed quickly and today Onomondo provides device-to-cloud connectivity for the many refrigerated containers (‘reefers’) that Maersk uses to deliver perishable cargo around the world.
“With Onomondo, we have a much more open and modern kind of relationship than we would have with a traditional network operator,” says Musaddique Alatoor, Maersk’s Head of Equipment Innovation.
“And that gives us the flexibility we need to navigate the industry going forward.”
Looking for a more open operator relationship
“In a traditional network operator relationship, you are married to that vendor from the moment you put the SIM card into your device,” explains Alatoor.
“So, whether you are happy with it or not, you have to live with it for the rest of the device lifetime. And if something better comes onto the market, you can’t access it. You are stuck with your initial network operator, for better or worse.”
Onomondo is not a traditional network operator. “As in any relationship, we believe that the best way to show your love is by setting your partner free,” says Karlsen with a smile. That is exactly what his company does: using IoT technology to empower businesses in what used to be a space for only cellular solutions.
“With us you can change everything about the SIM, at any time,” explains Karlsen. “You can change the networks it accesses, the operator behind it, how communication channels behave, and how security behaves.”
That gives Maersk the ability to control data steering and security from within the network. There’s no device logic. No worries about device overheads, add-ons or hardware set-up.
“Everything is handled from the network and is flexible across the company’s entire fleet,” says Egeberg.
No strings attached connectivity with Azure
“In the same way that Airbnb sells accommodation but doesn’t own homes, we sell connectivity, but don’t operate any antennas,” explains Anders Buchmann, Onomondo’s CCO.
“Through software, we have created a global network – built for IoT – that extends the power of Azure to every single connected device, no matter where it is in the world.
“Essentially, we provide Maersk with an ‘Azure SIM’ – made by Onomondo.”
Because Onomondo’s global network is specifically built for IoT, it empowers businesses to operate globally without roaming, giving full transparency and control of any device deployed, at any time, from anywhere.
But Onomondo’s offering goes beyond global connectivity. It is also about futureproofing that connection.
“A typical IoT device’s lifespan is between 2 and 15 years,” explains Karlsen. “That makes it nearly impossible to plan for future business needs and changes in technology over a device’s lifetime.” But because Onomondo enables post-deployment changes of any device, Maersk is free to operate as it chooses – even switching operators on Onomondo SIMs that have already been deployed.
“Although there are many companies that connect devices,” adds Buchmann, “there’s nobody enabling smart businesses and smart IoT solutions to connect to smart cloud solutions in quite the way that we do at Onomondo.”
Benefiting from flexibility and an impressive IoT toolbox
The freedom that Onomondo’s unique service gives Maersk has been intrinsic to the evolution of the integrated container logistics company’s Remote Container Management (RCM), which monitors and controls reefer environments to ensure that their contents arrive in the best possible condition.
“The RCM project has been up and running for five years now,” says Altoor. “Initial deployment was in data centers but now we operate everything in the cloud. With Onomondo’s help, we have improved our solution from both a coverage and a cost perspective. Thanks to them we have more freedom to operate, with the flexibility to always choose the best operator to give us the best coverage at the best price.”
And with Onomondo’s suite of IoT tools, Maersk has everything it needs to customize its solution – delivering better flexibility and security parameters when connecting to Microsoft Azure, even after deployment.
“That’s really the essence of what we’re trying to do,” explains Karlsen. “To empower smart companies using Microsoft technology. We provide the tools to globally connect Microsoft’s brilliant IoT service to brilliant IoT hardware solutions, so that great new things can happen.”
“The benefits for us at Maersk depend on which of the Onomondo tools we use,” adds Egeberg. “Connectivity is essential and close asset integration makes our products more cyber–safe. But we can also localize SIMs by making local data connections to save costs.
“And there are many more tools in the box that we’ll be exploring as we go along. The fundamental thing here is the choice that we have and the operational freedom it gives us.”
A relationship that is set to grow
Despite the considerable difference in both corporate age and size, there is an atmosphere of shared culture and ambition between the two teams at Maersk and Onomondo – a result of the container giant’s investment in Onomondo in late 2019 through its Corporate Venture arm Maersk Growth.
It was an investment that came on the back of Maersk choosing Onomondo as its global connectivity partner earlier that year, and it led to Maersk reaching out to its long-standing strategic partner Microsoft to explore how Onomondo could scale and build more value into their solution. Since then, Onomondo has become a Microsoft partner, further strengthening the relationship between all three companies.
It is clear that the relationship is on course to deliver further innovations. “We are looking at the most efficient way to manage all these SIMs globally,” explains Siddhartha Kulkarni, Head of Equipment IoT at Maersk. “So we have been working with Onomondo on a subscription management platform where we can jointly view the full details of our SIMs and change subscribers at the click of a button.”
“Helping Maersk with their RCM solution is only the start of it,” Karlsen adds. “Our IoT toolbox is always evolving and we have many more game–changing tools in the pipeline – global connectivity is simply the foundation on which we build them.
“As I see it, our journey together has just begun,” he concludes.
“Although Onomondo may only be a small speedboat next to the giant liner ship of Maersk, what we have achieved together so far has validated our partnership and paved the way for greater collaboration going forward.”
A.P. Moller – Maersk is an integrated container logistics company, connecting and simplifying trade to help its customers grow and thrive. The flexible connectivity solution from Onomondo will help the company deliver best–in–class solutions not only today but also in the future.
Onomondo takes all that is good from cellular and redesigns all that should be rethought for a society reshaped by IoT. The result is a global, scalable, secure and cost effective network that changes what is possible within IoT and eliminates borders and barriers.
To learn more about A.P. Moller – Maersk, visit their website. For more about Onomondo, their website is here.