Op­ti­mis­ing sup­ply chain

Transworld Tech­nolo­gies is bank­ing on tech­nol­ogy to op­ti­mise sup­ply chain and lo­gis­tics.

Commercial Vehicle - - CONTENTS - Story by: Ashish Bha­tia

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.”

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