Optimising supply chain
Transworld Technologies is banking on technology to optimise supply chain and logistics.
Transworld Technologies is banking on technology to optimise supply chain and logistics.
With a focus on supply chain operations for the past 18 years, Punebased Transworld Technologies Ltd., has devised an intellectual property in the realm of Internet of Things (IoT). The property utilises embedded hardware, wireless data acquisition, big data and analytics, and Business Intelligence (BI). Claimed to offer an ability to optimise the supply chain and logistics operations, the intellectual property, according to Vikram Puri, Chief Executive Officer, Transworld Technologies Ltd., is designed and developed to especially optimise the supply chain operations and logistics that involve CVs. The basis for the creation of the intellectual property, which consists of a number of solutions (like Mobile Eye and FleetView) is the technological prowess Transworld Technologies has gained over the last two decades almost, and involves writing of cloud-based programs, creation of enterpriseclass software, and to carry out deployments. “With the supply chain network between a company and its suppliers involving production and distribution of a specific product, the intellectual property that we have created has the potential to make a huge impact on the economy as well as the cost of fleet operations,” averred Puri. He stated that steps have been taken to ensure that the solution, product or service reaches the customer successfully and effectively. “The best part is, the property that we have created will positively impact driver productivity,” Puri added.
The Mobile Eye is the company’s flagship product, and is made up an embedded hardware device that captures and processes data from a variety of sensors fitted to a commercial vehicle. Available as an in-house solution, built gound-up, and as a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) solution, the Mobile Eye facilitates
Q. What does Transworld Technologies specialise in? A.
We specialise in providing service through unique and value added solutions. Since the last 18 years we are focussing on commercial vehicles. We are specifically in the supply chain operations. We have captured a whole lot of data coming out of the supply chain. Our flagship offering, Mobileye, is a smart embedded device based on IoT. It looks up a variety of information in the vehicle both in the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) space as well as data independent of OBD. The challenge in India is a CV mix where some are OBD capable and others are not OBD equipped. There is a need to retrofit. Any solution that one brings in, and irrespective of it being for road safety or for fleet optimisation, or for roadside assistance, its life span may not see it last for more than five years. It is the same with a solution pertaining to supply chain management too. The life of the solution will not be effective for the next five years unless it can also be retrofitted. We found out that picking up data from various sources has allowed us better predictive analytics. Driver behaviour for example. Data captured from commercial vehicles is sent to the cloud where analytics can be run. Analytics typically looks at the time taken by a commercial vehicle to travel from Mumbai to Delhi two years ago with a full load, and now. It also takes into account whether GST has impacted or not. To ensure accuracy, we are creating actionable inputs for our customers; we are prioritising road safety. The Rupee-Paisa equation is directly connected to road safety. We have convinced some of our customers to ban their transporters from driving at night for instance. That dramatically reduced accidents. We found that there are a few trucks that are driving more than 10 hours a day on an average, and contrary to what people say, there are certain days where drivers are taking rest. We translated this data into a live score card that the driver can use, or the transporter can use. A consignor or the end user could also have a score card. Things like these have a huge impact on the economy and the cost of operations. They also could influence productivity of the driver. Our online system, FleetView, picks up data from the vehicle and returns an output on several metrics. The truck driver is today at the lowest rung in the entire chain. The stereotype approach to drivers in the country needs to change.
Q. How did the company first enter the CV segment? A.
When we started, we had the technology advantage. We went around pitching our technology at a time when nobody was ready to invest in it, or buy it upfront. So we looked at the transportation segment as we found out that it was one of the most unorganised segments. Even today it is the most unorganised segment. The road network and infrastructure in the country are poor. Maintenance is poor, and drivers have not trained adequately. Navigating and managing a large fleet of commercial vehicles especially in the construction industry is challenging. With a fleet of 250 vehicles for example. Today, many operators are working with such fleet sizes. Their fleet size has grown tremendously.
Q. Which areas are generating good traction in the CV space? A.
We are getting the most traction from safety and security. Other areas include infotainment, fleet driver management, vehicle tracking and management, fleet journey risk management solutions, and fleet route mapping and optimisation solutions.
Q. Which are the growth drivers in this segment? A.
It is tough to say as it is a question of combining human knowledge with technology. One might have the ability to generate huge amount of data but the ability to analyse it, and to arrive at actionable business intelligence is crucial. It is governed by domain knowledge and prior relevant industry experience.
Q. How effective are the solutions that you offer for CVs? A.
The younder generation is taking over what has largely been a family driven business. Such fleet operators are open to accepting new technologies. They see potential in them. When we present our solutions to such fleet
operators, and tell them that it has the intelligence to alert of a tyre change in the next 7000 km, they show interest. We also show them how it could be further integrated with the ERP systems that they are using, and they are able to gauge the potential. The solution that we offer would not only inform about a tyre change that is due to the next 7000 km, but also about tyre vendors at the planned destination. The solution could also help get the best quote from tyre dealers in the region. We thus offer a great value-add to the customer, and present a strong case of reducing the working capital. Getting more time to look at the core business by leaving the fleet management aspect to be taken care of by the solution we offer, the fleet operator would be in a better position to grow his business. The ‘Fleetcart’ solution offers services automatically. A separate embedded development team designs the electronic hardware and software that is entirely based on the cloud server. Functioning at the click of a button, the solution was developed by spending a lot of time and money. There was no formal training for an open source platform in the past. It is now drawing attention as it has been found to be far more productive than some of the closed platforms out there. Not only does it offer us the freedom of being license free, in the case of mapping we do not have to rely on thirdparty solutions. We have our own map and data, which makes us self-sufficient. We ensure that customers steer clear of duplicate and redundant entries.
Q. So, are the solutions you offer of the end-to-end variety? A.
We offer end-to-end solutions in the logistics and supply chain space. We offer solutions that encompass the complete business cycle – from the time a fleet owner takes a request from the customer to take a load from point A to point B. Earlier, transporters couldn’t invest in such a solution because they couldn’t afford the requisite IT infrastructure. From booking a vehicle to generating an invoice for the customer, we have solutions that have been doing it for the last five to seven years. The solutions focus on the driver, the vehicle, and the journey. Important metrics are generated enroute keeping in mind the needs of every stakeholder. Rather than get data-fatigued, our solutions present a direction as to what a fleet owner’s vehicle is doing and what it should be doing.
Q. How have the solutions you offer evolved over time? A.
Customers derive a significant advantages from the big data that their business generates, and is analysed. A large-scale company in India found that they were in a position to reduce their fleet size by 40 per cent after the data they were generating was analysed. Consider the common practise of fleet managers in India giving the driver a standard sum of money to manage his trip expenses. If the driver saves money he can pocket it. However, if he spends more it goes out of his pocket. This is resulting in a safety margin of eight to 10 per cent. The driver actually makes two to three per cent. Also, a typical fleet owner is not as concerned about fuel economy since he has struck a deal with the driver for a fixed allowance. If the driver is given an incentive, and saves eight to 10 per cent fuel, it translates into a significant amount of money that returns to the system. Fuel is the single largest expenditure for a fleet operation, and has until now been ignored across the board for generations.
Q. What kind of savings has the big data resulted in? A.
Data and analytics were interpreted as a dot on the map five years ago. It was about finding what the driver was doing wrong in the name of fleet management. We influenced a change by saying that let us not just focus on the driver, but on the entire operation. The change has led to a rise in monitoring levels, which are making a difference to the company’s overall business output. Driver attitude too has changed. He is seeking an organised work environment with fixed working hours. Companies are thus milking big-data. The challenge is the gap between what should be done, and what is actually being done.
Q. How is Transworld Technologies differentiating itself through the solution it offers? A.
We have our own technology, which allows us a significant degree of change and customisation. What sets us apart is our long presence in the market. Our focus is on aspects that we think will help our customers make money. We are working towards making fleet management a profit centre. A company for example could benefit from the study of its insurance premium paid in comparison to the previous years. We play the role of an enabler. Having seen people enter the transportation business and exit it soon after due to our long presence in the market, we are not out to sell just another solution. We are instead keen to offer a solution that brings value to the customer, and positively impacts the bottom line. We want to be the SAP of supply chain business.
Q. How did you earn special exemptions from the Government of India?
We are a 100 per cent homegrown, indigenously built technology company. Our intellectual properties are protected. While the Government offer us exemptions, it is not really easy to access. The security deposit for a 10year contract for instance with the Government is done away with. Another kind of exemption is the preference basis the quotation margin we are in. In actual practice, it has met with an amount of reluctance however. The relevant departments making it rather difficult to benefit from an exemption.
Q. How much have you been investing in R&D? A.
We are a technology-intensive company with 25 to 30 people out of the 100 employees into R&D. Almost half the R&D team would be devoted to hardware, and the rest of the team, to the creation of big data and cloud software among others. With new rollouts including cameras fitted to CVs with realtime data synced to mobile handsets for the benefit of the fleet operators, we are offering 72 hours turnaround time for issues cropping up enroute. Clients could pay for the service they want. They could opt for higher level of data as per their growing needs. We are looking at spending Rs.22 crore over the next 12 to 15 months. A quarter of that will be spent on marketing. The activity would involve the creation of awareness among customers. Another third would be spent to enhance analytics and business intelligence. This would bring more value to our customers. The final third portion of the investment will be towards upping the inventory. We have to be EBITDA positive.
Q. What is the revenue percentage from CVs compared to the overall revenue margins? A.
In India, trucks don’t do more than 6,000 to 7,000 km a month when they could do 18,000 km a month. That’s what makes the industry inefficient and difficult. For us, as we sell efficiency enhancing solutions, CVs generate three-quarters of a million dollar revenue besides other revenue streams.
Q. Are you into defence research too? A.
In defence, the requirements are the same, the problems are the same, and the inefficiencies are the same. There is an inherent need to determine the quantum of resources at disposal. Rounds of ammunition at the disposal for example, or the amount of time it will take for a unit to go from point A to point B. We have worked with defence, but the interaction has been sporadic. We are aware that the DRDA is working on several technologies. The general opinion about them is however that while they make something good, the costs often shoot up. The general opinion about them is also that by the time the technology is out it is unusable.
Q. What keeps you away from striking collaborations or JVs? A.
We are not looking at technical partnerships. We are instead planning partnerships at levels such as sales. These would be region specific in markets like the Middle East, which offers a significant growth potential. For us, its about the road supply chain with fleet owners having a fleet of 5,000 odd vehicles for the small region that the Middle East is. Compared to our market, the Middle East market amounts to a small region. In terms of response, they are more than willing to operate their vehicles for 18 hours a day whereas in India we barely achieve half of that. It is Indians who are running the business, and seem to be more efficient in their ways over there.
Q. What is your outlook on automotive telematics? A.
Electronics accounts for close to 30 per cent of the cost of a vehicle today. In the case of CVs, its not even as much. One of the changes we see is the level of detail in a CV platform going up many notches from what it was 10 years ago. The computing ability of the CV platform is going to change dramatically going forward with progress in automation. Enhancing driver skill electronically through the use of telematics would be critical to a transport company’s operation. For instance, we have maybe one in 10 truck drivers wearing a spectacle for the lack of medical facilities at their disposal. This is besides the subsequent lack of awareness of a potentially dangerous medical condition. Close to 50 to 60 per cent of the CV drivers could well be colour blind or have other health issues. As things progress, telematics would focus over just these areas as a matter of convention.
Q. What are the growth opportunities and challenges that you see? A.
The growth area for us is the organised supply chain where we generate crucial data besides just offering tracking data. The challenge is largely to make our B2B customers aware of the kind of services they need to subscribe to. Doing this would help them realise the true value of the service they engage.
the movement of data that it processes (it has the capability) to the cloud for big data analytics in real-time. Laced with Global Positioning System (GPS) and a cellular (GSM/GPRS) interface according to Puri, the Mobile Eye measures metrics like date, time, speed, latitude, longitude and distance travelled by the vehicle. The information amassed is sent to a command data centre, which plots the same on the company’s FleetView mapping software. The software in-turn uses the data gathered to generate reports for further analysis of the driving environment of the vehicle. Offering complete functionality, real-time fleet managament, the mapping software FleetView, plays the role of an online cloudbased big data portal by offering end-to-end visibility across the supply chain. Easy to integrate with standard ERPs like SAP or J.D.Edwards, FleetView is also capable of integrating with popular accounting packages like Tally.
“It lets the users monitor their fleet metrics like turnaround time, destination wise ETAs, plan return loads as well as generate invoices, purchase orders and manage the expenses,” explained Puri.
Capable of delivering vehicle, driver, location or group information, FleetView can delve deeper by indulging into driver performance rating, driver training, driver health monitoring, driver incentive program, driver fatigue meter, driver counselling, and 24x7 driver counselling. This feature could be very useful in instances where driver behaviour is impacting productivity. Offering a 360-degree driver analysis, FleetView, through journey risk management, offers end-to-end journey management, including risk evaluation and mitigation, and fleet journey analysis. The route map pro solution that Transworld Technologies is offering, helps identify route hazards, perform real-time monitoring and get violation alerts apart from carrying out end-to-end route planning. In the area of student and employee transport, Transworld Technologies has been offering a solution that helps to focus on student and staff safety through provisions like seat belt notification, visual monitoring, unauthorised entry and exit among others. It is telematics-based, and over 12,000 vehicle units of the solution have been delivered according to Puri. Linked to a portal that handles in excess of one million data records per day, the solution aimed at student and employee transport makes a school bus operation safer. Said Puri, that they have served brands like ACC Holcim, Castrol, BP, PraxAir, Linde, Unilever, Shell, Agility to name a few with road safety systems. Reaching out to players across other potential sectors, Transworld Technologies is confident of its intellectual property finding traction in application verticals beyond CVs, and supply chain operations and logistics. Transworld Technologies is thus reaching out to application verticals like utilities and power, television ratings, anti-piracy, warehouse and cloud-based CRM and ERP solutions.
Investing in resources and time to develop the intellectual property, the company has an efficient team in place. Investing heavily in research and development, the company is in talks with players in various application verticals, and is hoping to work with them to address their needs with cloudbased solutions; also solutions that would involve a good use of advanced telematics. Of the opinion that the solutions they offer are well differentiated, Puri mentioned that they top in terms of functions and value. He stated further that big-data analytics generates huge quantum of data, and there is an inherent need to analyse this data and arrive at an actionable business intelligence. “It is this inherent need that is driving growth,” he added. Aware of companies in supply chain milking big-data, Puri is keen that his company helps in addressing the needs of companies to fulfil the percieved gap between what the companies should be doing and what they actually are doing. Describing Transworld Technologies as a company that is well entrenched into what it does, Puri averred, “We have an ability to offer customised solutions that differentiate well in value.” He quipped, “With organised supply chain showing high growth potential, we see much room to make in-roads in there. We are thus working on the challenge of increasing awareness levels among customers.”