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Fortunate Olympics bid led to Circuitlink’s success in the US

A fortunate Olympics bid has led to the Aussie-owned Circuitlink becoming a major telematics player in the US bus and coach industry

It was 25 years ago when Circuitlink was first founded in Australia. The telematics and event recording company may have grown its presence over the past few decades, but as a company, Circuitlink is a widely known name in a variety of transport industry sectors. 

In the North American transit bus market, Circuitlink has become a leading supplier of telematics and event data recording solutions for operators, while in the Australian rail industry, its monitoring and level crossing capabilities have seen it grow locally. Despite the brand’s evolution since being founded more than 25 years ago, the Australian-owned and operated company has had only limited impact within the local bus and coach industry.

“Circuitlink’s origins come from producing and supplying brake testing machines for passenger and heavy vehicles,” Circuitlink sales and marketing director Ian Buckley told ABC. 

“We now specialise in the design, manufacture and sale of not only measure and test, but also diagnostic and telematics solutions.”

Circuitlink’s technology monitors vehicle data

Originally, Circuitlink’s expertise lay in the passenger vehicle sector, where its brake testing machines for vehicle compliance was soon joined by its other key pillar of tachograph vehicle telematics devices. Roughly 15 years ago, the Australian-owned and headquartered business made another foray, this time into the bus and coach sector. Instead of starting with the local industry, Circuitlink was cornered to become a vital part of an American city’s Summer Olympics bid.

“Our Tacholink product really took off around 15 years ago when Chicago launched a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics,” Buckley says.

“Part of that bid included having data management technology on all buses used for the Olympics. We were then approached by Chicago to modify our tachograph product for the US market.”

The result of this was the Tacholink – Circuitlink’s adaptation of the tachograph vehicle speed and distance recorder that became its own self-contained event data recorder. Essentially, the system became a ‘black box’ machine for Chicago buses.

While Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics was unsuccessful and usurped by Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, Circuitlink’s entry to the US market was the opposite. Following the Chicago bid, Circuitlink’s Tacholink products were adopted by a number of American states. Whether it be smaller transit operators or a large fleet of urban government-regulated vehicles, Circuitlink quickly found itself providing systems for government operators on the other side of the world.

“Since the Chicago bid, Circuitlink has focused its business on the US bus industry, as well as the Australian and UK brake sectors,” Buckley says.

“The tachograph has since evolved into our T5 event data recorder and has been adapted into rail maintenance machinery to perform regulatory monitoring adherence.”

Buckley first joined Circuitlink in the aftermath of Chicago’s Olympics bid to help with the company’s growth and adaptation to export markets. He says Circuitlink’s US connections first allowed the brand to help elevate the city’s bid by providing innovative telematics technology on its bus fleet. This focus and development means Circuitlink is well and truly past its tachograph technology. Instead, its Tacholink system has quickly drawn interest all around the US.

“We’re now 15 to 20 years past tachograph technology,” Buckley says.

“After Chicago, we then started presenting the Tacholink product to our US distributor for new bus builds all around the US.”

Many technology providers often start at the bottom of the public transport chain, picking up contracts with smaller operators and working their way to the top to compete for the business of large-scale bus and coach businesses running hundreds of vehicles. 

Circuitlink isn’t like other technology companies. Instead, it secured contracts from some of America’s leading operators and began expanding throughout the country. Starting with Florida’s urban fleet, Circuitlink soon secured deals to provide Tacholink technology to bus operators in Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Buffalo and Washington DC, to name a few. 

“We’ve managed to sell to some of the biggest players in the US transit bus market, featuring different states and applications,” Buckley says.

“It’s an ongoing process for us as we continue setting up our telematics presence across the country.”

Circuitlink’s expansion in the US has coincided with the wider evolution of telematics technology for buses and coaches. Instead of just providing data for crashes that needed to be physically downloaded off the bus and taken back to a depot for assessment, Circuitlink has grown its capabilities to improve the chain of evidence protocols, with it now offering a fully online presence for data event logging. 

Operators with Circuitlink technology onboard their fleet can simply log into a network that contains all asset data. Originally contracted in Chicago for its black box accident investigation capabilities, Circuitlink’s Tacholink systems can now provide vital data for the smallest of complaints received by an operator.

“We can also work in sync with camera data to match with our information, allowing us to offer footage before, during and after the incident, while we also use rollover detection and warnings in our technology,” Buckley says.

“This growth has seen a snowball effect for us. Now, some of the smaller operators securing tenders using the specifications of larger operators for new vehicles may not even realise it comes with Circuitlink technology, but they come to realise the benefits very quickly.”

To meet this situation, Circuitlink’s technology is agnostic for all major bus manufacturers. With many large US operators having varying brands as part of its fleet, Circuitlink’s technology, like these operators, isn’t tied to a certain OEM.

It’s allowed Circuitlink to quickly become a major supplier in the US’ massive transit bus industry. Over the past 15 years, it’s established arrangements with various distributors and re-sellers. Now, the brand is large enough to secure its own distribution team in the country, while it works with an engineering company to service operators in person if required.

Nowadays, Circuitlink is continuing its US expansion process by being present at major international events. In 2026, Circuitlink will have its Tacholink technology onboard some buses working at the FIFA World Cup to ensure vehicles in the fleet are tracked and monitored carefully. From there, Circuitlink’s idea of growth in the US has no limits.

“We were fortunate that the US came to us and asked for our technology,” Buckley says.

“You will always take the path of least resistance, and we have been able to use this to our advantage.”

Following Circuitlink’s success in the US, it has since focused on local sectors such as Australia’s rail industry. By providing its famous Tacholink and monitoring systems to rail operators, Circuitlink has been able to create a point of difference in its customer base.

The brand’s Tacholink solution first rose to fame during Chicago’s Olympic bid

One area Circuitlink hasn’t grown into to date is the local bus and coach industry. While some regional operators may remember Circuitlink for providing TicketLink systems for the best part of 20 years, this smattering of private company partnerships has since dissipated as larger specialised ticketing operators have better met the market. 

Buckley says this means that many operators in Australia may not fully comprehend what Circuitlink’s systems can achieve.

“The majority of data logging devices only take snapshots every six seconds, while our system mines data down to the millisecond,” he says.

“Most accidents are done and dusted in six seconds, so you could miss it all. Our system has a point of difference as a bespoke piece of technology that can build reports around vehicle events to the smallest moments of time.”

Moving forward, Circuitlink will keep its connections open in Australia’s bus and coach industry as it still supports systems in operation. 

Outside of this, Circuitlink’s brake testing market will also continue to be a focus in the heavy vehicle sector. For the bus and coach industry, whether it be for private companies in Australia or the US’ colossal sector of government operators, Circuitlink will look to continue staying ahead of the curve with its technological capabilities.

“We’re also now looking at electric bus data and how our technology can protect against thermal runaway,” Buckley says.

“We know from testing and the electric vehicles currently using our technology that our monitoring needs to focus on every single cell in a battery to ensure early detection. We’ll keep growing our product to suit changes in the future – our evolution is key to our success.” 

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