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Interview with Baseline Communicate’s Agiel Ba’abud

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Agiel Ba'abud BCTrack Arsianews

Energetic, enthusiastic, and warm. That was the main impression that appeared from Agiel Ba’abud, President Director of PT Baseline Communicate when he was met at his office, at Menara Hijau, Jl. MT Haryono, South Jakarta, Tuesday afternoon last week.

Baseline Communicate is a national company that produces BCTrack, a vessel GPS tracking device and telemetry system that has been widely used in the national shipping world. This system contained a double basketball-sized hardware and the ship monitoring dashboard which can be accessed from a desktop/laptop.

This tool has been serving over hundreds or even thousands ships/ vessels used by multinational companies such as Total, Chevron, Petronas, British Petroleum, as well as leading national companies such as the Samudra Indonesia and Pertamina.

To ArsiaNews, Agiel talked a lot about BCtrack. How he initially created it, then developed it into a seems to be a mandatory reference for shipowners in the shipping world.

Question: What makes BCTrack special compared to the other GPS tracking & telemetry systems?

Answer: First of all, I need to explain that BCTrack is a product from Baseline Communicate, a company that I founded to provide solutions in the field of maritime, especially telemetry systems.

BCTrack is a service that we provide to answer the problems that are often experienced by shipowners. Shipowners must entrust their ships as soon as the ship goes to the sea. They don’t have the ability to know where their ship is, where the ship is headed. They could only see their ship again after the ship docked.

BCTrack is present to give shipowners absolute ability to be able to monitor their ships. Knowing where the ship is now, where it is heading, at what speed, can even know anything near our ship with radar feature. By BCTrack we return absolute ship control to shipowners so they can run and grow their business well.

If you ask me what makes BCTrack special when compared to other products on the market, we can tell you that BCTrack is a superior product that offers something that other competitors don’t have.
We provide added value that does not exist in other products. BCTrack was the first to introduce a tracking and telemetry system completed with fuel monitoring solutions.

So you could say, when comparing our products with other products on the market, it doesn’t seem to be apple-to-apple. No wonder, now BCTrack becomes a reference in various tenders.

Even for social purposes, BCTrack can also be very helpful. Coincidentally, one of the state-owned companies has just dispatched a ship equipped with BCTrack to send tons of cargo of assistance to the people who are being hit by the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Palu, so that the shipment can run smoothly

The idea of making a BCTrack initially came when I met a friend at a funeral when we mourned an acquaintance in 2001 or 2002. This friend of mine was a shipowner. At that time he complained that his tugboat often had fuel leakage because it was often stolen by

Can you tell me why your company decided to develop BCTrack? How long is the BCTrack development?

The idea of making a BCTrack initially came when I met a friend at a funeral when we mourned an acquaintance in 2001 or 2002. This friend of mine was a shipowner. At that time he complained that his tugboat often had fuel leakage because it was often stolen by.

That’s where we think of creating a system that can also monitor fuel consumption for vessels. Since then, we started developing BCTrack. We divided the evolution of BCTrack into three elements.

The first is the hardware part, which has evolved more than eight times. Second, the firmware or brain part of BCTrack, which has evolved about five times. The last is the dashboard or user interface element that has changed three times.

For the architecture of the application, we do not adopt client servers, nor web applications. The advantage of client-server is that the application can run quickly. But the drawback is that it cannot be mobile. It cannot be used from anywhere we like.

The advantages of web applications are that they can be accessed anywhere. But the shortcomings are more easily tapped or interfered. BCTrack combines the advantages of a client-server application with a web application.

BCTrack adopts a hybrid architecture that combines client-server and web server. The database is stored on the web server as data backup, while the application is run on the client side or on a PC device.

Data from the server can be considered safe because it is a non-readable hexadecimal data and it makes the data update which is done in every 30 seconds becomes light and fast.

Aren’t the ships available in the market provide the features as BCTrack have?

There may be customized ships that have specific capabilities like featured by BCTrack. But, most ships made up to now give more focus on the capability and features of control to the captain and crew themselves, not to the shipowners who are outside of the ship.

Well, that’s the power of BCTrack. We provide full control to shipowners who may be far from the ship’s location as if they are close and still have complete control over their ship.

How much is the price to install a BCTrack on board?

Depending on the features needed. We have various packages that can be chosen by shipowners that fit their needs. Starting from the Base Package which is suitable for floating crane or fisheries boat.

bctrack arsianews

BCTrack hardware installed on the ship

There is a Light package that provides features that are more advanced than the Base package, there are also Silver packages that are suitable for Tug Boat vessels. Gold packages for Anchor Handling Tug & Supply (AHTS) vessels. And the most comprehensive is the Ultimate package, which is suitable for passenger or tanker ships.

For the Gold package, for example, we set a price of US$48,000 per unit of BCTrack. And market acceptance of our services continues to grow well because the prices we apply are still very competitive compared to the other tracking system providers whose features are not as complete as BCTrack

Can you tell us how you grew the company since 2000?

Baseline Communicate began in 1988, where we departed from a small lab. At that time, I was already interested in telemetry. While I was studying, I continued to develop an interest in telemetry. So from the beginning, I focused on telemetry.

In 2000, I and my acquaintances had started a business in the field of GPS tracking for land transportation purposes. But it is less successful, and indeed it has less challenge in the technological side of the ground tracking systems. So I decided to no longer continue the business.

From then I developed Baseline from home. I did a business alone. Became a director and programmer, and also became marketing, and I also became a technician. Until finally Baseline grew and then start renting an office in Jakarta, precisely at the Cyber Building, and finally moved to our current office in Menara Hijau.

Now, many shipping companies have benefited from BCTrack. I don’t know exactly how many ships are using BCTrack. which must have been very much. On one occasion, a company installed BCTrack on more than 300 of their fleets. Until now, hundreds of ships still use BCTrack services for various purposes, ranging from ferries, passenger ships, tugboats, offshore ships, cargo ships, and others.

During the 18 years of building a company, what kind of memorable difficulties you have?

If I look back, there are a lot of experiences that used to seem bitter, but when we started to reap the fruit, the experience became so sweet.

I once wanted to install a BCTrack on a ship, but there were no boats that could take me from the ground to a ship that was in the middle of the sea. After all, I have to get to the ship. To the extent that I had to ride a barrel that I had to paddle with my hands, like a rodeo riding a horse, carrying various equipment in my backpack.

At other times, I had to install BCTrack on a ship docked in the Marunda area. I remember it was in 2004, I installed to a ship owned by a businessman from Semarang, named Mr. Komeng.

After completing the installation, it turned out that Mr. Komeng saw me and my body was covered with oil. Then he said: “Mr. Agiel, you did the installation by yourself?” Then I spontaneously replied: “Because this is your ship, I have to intervene to ensure that the equipment can run properly.”

Mr. Komeng shook my hand and says “Thank you!” In fact, at that time I did not have a staff to install, so I did have to do it by myself (laugh).

Once again one time my technician was on duty on the ship, my technician who could not swim suddenly fell into the sea. I spontaneously plunged into the sea to help him, wasn’t aware of still carrying a backpack containing a laptop.

As a result, the laptop and my data are all damaged. And that is also not the only event. On another occasion, my laptop even splashed with the backpack and sank into a sea trash.

So if I remember all the events, those events became sweet memories that could not be forgotten. I was able to feel the difficulties faced by my employees in the field.

I can feel that they are an important part of the company. I can treat them well, and they become employees who are very loyal to the company.

My father said: There is a slight difference between a loser and a winner. A loser knows what he believes is right, but he gives up and does not implement it. While a winner knows what he believes to be true, and he carries it out, even though people scorn him.

What advice do you hold the most so that your company can survive through all of the difficulties?

My father, Hasyim Ba’abud has a strong influence on his children including me. My father was very obedient to religion, so he descends to his children. One of my younger brothers was now a preacher.

My dear father also had an entrepreneurial ethos so that my other siblings also chose to entrepreneurship. As well as I. My father was also interested in technical matters, so it descends to me who liked technical things then become a tech company.

And I always remembered my father’s advice about the difference between losers and winners. My father said: There is a slight difference between a loser and a winner. A loser knows what he believes is right, but he gives up and does not implement it. While a winner knows what he believes to be true, and he carries it out, even though people scorn him.

This what I always remember and strengthen me to be consistent in my field. And I believe that as long as we walk on our true belief, we are going through the process of success. So there is no success that can be obtained instantly.

Does that at the same time become your advice for young technopreneur who are starting their business? Exactly. But, I also want to give other advice. First, smart people are not people who have a series of titles. But, smart people are honest people. So when he is lying, he himself first knows that he is doing foolishness.

Another advice that is no less important: in doing business you are not purely pursuing money. Look for what benefits you can give people. Then naturally money will surely come to you.

Already the nature of the innovator he would always waste money to satisfy his curiosity. Naturally, he seemed to want to salt the ocean to find something. While the nature of a businessman or company is how to make profits. So the only way is that I make a company that can commercialize the results of my innovation.

What are your dreams in childhood?

I do not have specific aspirations like other children, such as being a pilot, doctor or other professions. My goal is simple: I just want to be someone who is beneficial to people.

After receiving an education in Germany in the field of computer engineering, surely you can work in various companies with a decent salary. But why did you actually establish a company in Indonesia?

No, it would be very difficult for an innovator to work for a company or businessman. Already the nature of the innovator he would always waste money to satisfy his curiosity.

Naturally, he seemed to want to salt the ocean to find something. While the nature of a businessman or company is how to make profits. So the only way is that I make a company that can commercialize the results of my innovation.

Technology runs fast. New ships will be equipped with sophisticated IT systems, maybe your system won’t be needed in the future. What products will you make in the near future?

Well, right now I have started working with shipbuilding companies so that BCTrack can become a tool equipped to the ship’s default features. Thus, ship buyers no longer need to buy BCTrack separately.

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