Philadelphia Business Journal
Peter Key, August 17, 2012
DOYLESTOWN — A company formed to commercialize a mobile system for monitoring ports has landed funding and a customer.
S4 Worldwide LLC recently was approved for a $250,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the state-funded economic-development agency based at The Navy Yard.
The company, which previously raised $250,000 in seed funding from family and friends, expects to close on an additional investment of around $3 million from larger
investors by the end of the year, said its president, Paul Soult.
S4W also just contracted to provide one of its Sentry systems to SEPTA for one year for $241,000. The agency thinks it can use the systems in numerous ways, but wants to see exactly what one can do before committing to others, said John Wenke, a captain of support services with the SEPTA Police Department.
The Sentry system was developed for the Joint Unified Maritime Protection System (JUMPS) to blend data from multiple sources to provide real-time information about everything occurring at and around ports. Its development was funded by the Defense Department’s Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., which oversees the special operations commands of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
The company that began work on the system was Coherent Systems International Corp., which had offices in Doylestown and in Camden. Coherent was purchased by Argon ST Inc., a Fairfax, Va., defense contractor that is now owned by The Boeing Co.
Last April, S4W licensed from Argon, which now operates as a business unit of Boeing, the exclusive right to market the systems to the mass transportation and oil-and-gas industries. Under their agreement, S4W works with its customers to get the specifications they want for their systems. Argon then makes the systems for S4W, which provides them to the customers and maintains them for as long as the customers have them.
The systems are designed to be placed anywhere and can monitor anything, depending on what type of sensors they’re equipped with. They can provide users with whatever type of information they want and in any form they want it, from continuous streams to incident alerts. They are equipped with solar panels, small turbines and batteries so they can power themselves, and can be set up to send back information wirelessly through methods ranging from mobile-phone networks to satellite. They also are designed to withstand harsh environments — some deployed on the Delaware River by Argon have been operating continuously for two years.
“The context of how we define where we fit in any market is our little slogan: ‘No power, no network, no problem,’”
said Gil Zimmerman,
S4W’s chief operating officer.
S4W sees a large market for the Sentry in the Marcellus Shale and other remote regions where oil and gas drilling is occurring. The systems can be used to do everything from monitoring worksites for security to detecting potential environmental problems, said Judd McBride, the eastern region manager for Houston-based Stallion Oilfield Holdings Inc., which is helping S4W market them to oil and gas companies.
Stallion has worked with S4W to equip a Sentry system with the capability to set up Voice-over-Internet Protocol phone service for companies that want to provide it to multiple trailers around a remote drilling site. It also has equipped the system with the ability to set up WiFi hotspots if they’re needed by first responders.