Preva Blog

 

GPS Device Cloud

02 August

 


The Opportunity:

India has the second largest road network across the world at 4.7 million km. India spends around 14.4% of its GDP on logistics and transportation, compared to less than 8% by other developing countries. The road freight constitutes around 63% of the total freight movement. There are 2.2 Million heavy duty trucks and over half million light duty trucks carrying more than 3000 Million metric tons annually.

Today, the road freight transport market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% by 2020 mainly driven by growth in Retail, Manufacturing and E-commerce sectors. Also, 85% of India’s total passenger traffic is via the road, as the connectivity between cities, towns and villages improved gradually. This market is growing at 12% CAGR by 2020.

The highly fragmented and unorganised logistics sector is all set for a complete transformation with the renewed focus on this sector. Road transport is largely in the hands of private parties, each with a small fleet of trucks of the single-axle type. Most truck owners in India have less than five trucks, the ‘ownership profile’ has given rise to a number of middlemen exerting varying levels of influence on profitability and efficiency.

Truck operator profits depend on operating costs and freight rates. Factors that plague truck transport include low capacity utilization, vehicle overloading, high transit times and safety concerns. Low utilization results typically from trucks being overloaded. The fatalities that have resulted due to truck accidents have led to not only a loss of lives but also economic loss. Fluctuating fuel prices and high toll charges increase the running costs of the trucks. Tyre maintenance is also major factor in deciding operator profit.

A lot of start-up companies focused on various aspects of efficiency improvements in the logistic sector have sprung in recent years such as Logisure Solutions, Turant Delivery, MYPACCO, Wedel Express, True Logistics, LTL, iHOP and Moovo. They mainly focus on transport aggregation platforms by bringing transporters, freight forwarding companies and customers together. These aggregators typically employ various approaches to efficiencies such as Logistics Planning, Optimal Loading, Optimal routing, Electronic Data Interchange and Effective IT Integration – including SCM with ERP, that includes various aspects of vehicle maintenance.

All of the above need a reliable GPS based fleet tracking infrastructure beneath them to provide real time information about moving trucks. Though there are numerous providers of fleet tracking solutions, very few of them are able to provide reliable and scalable solution to these transport aggregators. Benefits of GPS based fleet tracking: Locate position of the fleet any time, which can be used for multiple purposes including theft prevention, proof of delivery of goods, ensuring stoppage only at authorized places, adherence to specified route, paperless trip sheets and real time alerts. Optionally, GPS devices could also support fuel level monitoring to identify and optimize fuel usage, temperature monitoring in cold storage vehicles and RFID based tracking of goods in transit among others.

Challenges in providing good GPS solution:
Choice of GPS tracking device: Choosing the right GPS tracking device is the most critical part of providing a reliable solution. Quality of GPS and GSM modules are important here to ensure accuracy.

There are many network shadow regions in India where there is no GPRS coverage for more than 10-15 minutes. The solution needs to ensure events happening in such shadow regions are identified and handled effectively. Also, in Indian scenario, often devices such as music player, video player, loud horn, TV and fancy lights become part of the vehicle interior. GPS tracker will be added to the truck as well. There are apprehensions that these devices could impact the battery life of the vehicle. Hence, GPS devices should be equipped with power saving technologies.

Most GPS devices come with built-in antenna which may take a few minutes longer for the first fix, especially when parked in a GPS shadow region. For real time application such as notifying as soon as the vehicle leaves a particular spot, GPS devices with external antenna work the best. Lastly, GPS device come equipped with an in-built battery lasting for a few hours when the power supply to the device temporarily goes off. At times, the power supply to the device is intentionally removed to avoid visibility. Hence, the life of the internal battery is important as well.

Installation and Configuration: Technicians often connect the GPS device to the ignition circuit of the vehicle. We advise against this practice. Also, it matters as to where the GPS device is fixed in the vehicle, for better performance and to minimize maintenance issues. We have often observed truck drivers driving the truck right into the river bed and at times open the bonnet and direct water from a hose pipe, as part of cleaning process. In such situations, we need devices which are water proof and installed at water proof places inside the vehicle. Another key aspect is to catch the truck passing through key cities of India for installation or servicing. It is important to have one installation centre in each of North, South, Central, East and West part of India.

Legacy devices: In many cases, trucks would have already been fitted with GPS devices from a vendor, who could probably have given the tracking application free to the truck owner. The truck owner would like to protect his investment and not change the device. Hence, the solution should support GPS devices from multiple vendors.

Software Platform: Almost all device vendors and most solution vendors have a single threaded vehicle tracking application on a Server. This approach will probably be effective to track a certain number of vehicles. However, tracking 1,000 to 500,000 vehicles will need a different approach with distributed infrastructure at the back end. These devices will send data every minute. Scalability, reliability and performance will be the critical parameters.

Requirements of a Software Platform:
1. Writing applications should be fast and easy.
2. The customer should be able to choose device vendors, devices and application developers.
3. Multi-tenancy – enabling multiple customers to share the platform in a secure manner to drive down cost through sharing of the software platform
4. Application and system security.
5. Remote device configuration and software upgrades, enhancing ease of servicing and maintenance.

Preva’s WISE3 GPS device cloud:

Preva’s WISE3 GPS device cloud has been built to address the above requirements. Preva’s WISE3 device cloud allows a plethora of GPS tracking devices from different manufacturers to be connected in a seam-less manner. This includes GPS trackers with temperature sensors, RFID readers, NFC readers among others.

Existing GPS devices already fitted in to the vehicles also can be integrated in to Preva’s GPS device cloud with support from the device manufacturer. Preva’s GPS device cloud, not only provides a scalable and reliable infrastructure, but also caters to real time alerts, common drill down dash-boards, analytics and reporting. Today, Preva’s WISE3 GPS device cloud supports more than 50 clients Pan-India supporting customer’s applications such as Logistics Aggregation, Employee Transportation Management and Real time School Bus Information System.



By Ramaraj Srinivasan, CEO, Preva Systems

 

A technological solution for our elderly

06 October

 


My uncle, being a retired defense personnel, used to go for regular walks even when he was 76 years old.  He enjoyed walking to the nearby stores to buy milk and provisions. Often, he would not return even after an hour. My cousins would go in search of him and when found, he would say that he blanked out. After a few of these episodes, he was diagnosed with initial-stage dementia.

On April 1, 2015, I was shocked to read in the International Business Times about Hirotsugu Masuda’s Lonely Death Clean-up Crew in aging Japan, where over 5 million elderly people live alone. Last October, I read in Mail Online that in the UK alone, about 1.5 million men will be living alone by 2030 and the number of over-50-year-olds living alone was projected to rise by 65% in the next 15 years. In India too, nearly 5 million elders live alone, as many youth migrate to different cities and foreign countries for lucrative jobs.

These elders face many issues due their old age, such as forgetting to take medicines and misplacing their belongings. Most of them suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Incidents such as dizziness and falls has been increasing and some of the falls result in fatal injuries.  Also, many of them suffer from dementia. They go out for walks, and then don’t remembering the way back home, just like my uncle. As the number of elders living alone rises, so are the number of elder care service companies and elder care homes. However, they face the challenge of timely response to emergency situations. Further, it is not viable to have one caretaker per elder in every home or apartment 24/7. Another key challenge is to track service execution with respect for quality.

This is where technology might help. The recent advent of wearables with activity monitoring, heart rate monitoring and GPS capabilities has created opportunities for elders to confidently contemplate living in independent assisted living contexts.  Elder-care solution from Preva Systems uses a combination of wearable monitoring device such as a smart wrist watch and sensors that detect movement, door open/close and light, fitted at the homes of the elders to ensure timely alerts and support during health emergencies. The devices are like watches, arm-bands. Further, the solution provides regular reminders to the elders to exercise, take medicines and to carry out some of the activities of their day to day life. Any emergencies will be immediately alerted to the care-taker agency and loved ones for quick action. On top of all this, the wearable can also operate home appliances such as fans and lights, which is useful for physically challenged or bed-ridden elders. With new sensor devices emerging in Internet Of Things area, Preva is confident of enriching the lives of the elderly making them feel secure, confident and happy.



By Ramaraj Srinivasan, CEO, Preva Systems