Shoummo K Acharya, Founder & CMD
What inspired the inception of your logistics and fleet management company? How did you come up with the idea to start it?
The inception of eTrans Solutions dates back to the year 2000. The inspiration behind my vision took shape when I served as the Managing Director of Indian Container Leasing Corporation, which was later rechristened Transafe, from 1994 to 2000. During this period, I had the opportunity to closely observe and analyze the logistics sector and the companies operating in India within this space. This reminded me of Peter Drucker's famous statement: "Logistics is the Economy’s Last Dark Continent." While Drucker's article dates back to 1962, I realized its continued relevance in India in 2000. The immense significance of logistics, despite its potential for cost savings, improved efficiency, and transparency, was often overlooked in terms of its contribution to businesses and the economy. I decided to introduce disruption as the new norm and began with a plan to establish a Freight Exchange. The idea was to enable small truck owners (those with 1-5 trucks, constituting about 75-80% of the supply side) to engage in direct transactions with shippers. However, as I proceeded, I also realized that corporate shippers were interested in cost savings of 5-10% through the freight exchange, but not at the expense of evacuation efficiency. There was a lack of visibility and a seamless communication system between the consignor and consignee concerning the shipment, which in turn affected production planning. Additionally, there were concerns about enroute thefts and security issues. This realization emphasized the importance and necessity of a vehicle tracking system.
We started with a basic smart card-based system when GPS was not available in India for transport management. As GPS became reasonably accessible, eTrans Solutions transitioned to GPS-based tracking. Gradually, we introduced more sophisticated GPS and Telematics solutions, offering real-time visibility into the location and status of vehicles and assets. This advancement proved to be a game-changer in India's extensive and diverse landscape.
Please elaborate on the company’s various vehicle tracking solutions.
As part of the Make in India initiative, we've successfully ventured into designing and indigenous manufacturing of AIS-140 certified GPS devices (DARSH) and Network Video Recorders (NVR) equipped with Fatigue Monitor systems (FMS), meeting the highest safety and incident management compliance standards. Our array of solutions includes the Fuel Sensor system, Rear view cameras with HD video and IR mode, ADAS, Radar / Ultrasonic-based devices, RFID, In-bound and In-plant tracking, parking lot management, customer data centers, among others. These tools find extensive use across various industries.
We've introduced a unique concept called Centre for Improvement in Transparency and Efficiency (CITE), which brings immense value to customers, especially in the SCM sector. Through CITE, we provide advanced analytical intelligence, impact analysis, and smart process modelling using an integrated approach that aims to map, monitor, and enhance processes in an efficient and cost-effective manner. CITE aids customers in making informed decisions, managing complex operational procedures, providing a unified dashboard view of KPIs, analytical visibility, minimizing incident reporting and resolution time, generating predictive intelligence, and enabling data management and protection.
Our in-house facilities include a full-fledged Embedded Lab, Firmware Development Team, capability in Schematic Design PCB Layout and complete Product Design, R&D, Assembly and Testing Product Customisation.
In what ways has GPS and tracking technology by E-Trans Solutions improved the overall safety and security of cargo in transit?
eTrans vehicle tracking solutions are designed to minimize transit time, thereby optimizing logistics costs. By enabling more efficient fleet utilization, our solutions ensure long-term profitability for customers. Our data-driven solutions offer several benefits, including reduced Turn Around Time (TAT) for on-time deliveries, accident analysis, curbing fuel pilferage, improved vehicle utilization by minimizing idling and fleet size, and a reduction in carbon emissions—supporting health, safety, and environmental responsibility.
Real-time tracking via GPS devices translates to increased trips and enhanced productivity. Monitoring factors such as vehicle performance, fuel consumption, mileage, engine idling, and driver behaviors like speeding, harsh braking, etc. are critical in boosting fleet/vehicle efficiency. Geofencing, installation of 4G-enabled Cameras for Video Surveillance, e-Locks, etc., are some of the features that reduce or even nullify the probabilities of theft and pilferage. Generating real-time alerts is one of the key USPs that help our customers take pre-emptive real-time actions instead of conducting post-mortem analyses.
Auto-updating our customers regarding in-transit vehicles is conducted through eTrans Mobile and Desktop Applications. Our data-driven insights create a real-time history of a truck's movements, which is invaluable for addressing billing disputes, theft prevention, and reducing Lost Time Injury (LTI) incidents. Analyzing fuel consumption and decreasing thefts through FLS integration, live video monitoring, and fatigue alerts to prevent accidents are among the additional value-added features we offer to our customers.
How do you see GPS tracking technology evolving to further benefit the logistics industry?
The future of GPS tracking technology holds enormous potential. It will continue to evolve and integrate with other advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data Analytics, offering more precise and valuable insights into logistics operations. Vehicle Telematics is set to grow multifold in the coming years.
In India, the market is still evolving and not yet mature enough to adopt technological advancements, especially in transportation. However, there is a gradual change taking place. Market projections indicate that the India GPS Tracking Devices Market, valued at US$ 84.7 million in 2018, is expected to grow to US$ 348.6 million by 2029, with a CAGR of 14.1%. eTrans is poised to leverage the emerging opportunities. Despite challenges, GPS tracking technology is expected to play an even more significant role, integrating advanced analytics, machine learning, and new tracking technologies that will reshape the industry.
You are currently serving the East India region; do you have plans to expand to other regions and cater to a wider range of industries?
Over the years, we have become the 'go-to provider' in the steel, aluminum, mining, public utility, gases sectors, and associated logistics and transportation companies. We are now in the process of opening a branch in Mumbai, having established offices in Bengaluru and Delhi.
Our strategy involves expanding our footprint both domestically and globally and broadening our position by catering to a wider range of industries. We are exploring sectors such as FMCG, Cement, Construction, Manufacturing, Chemicals, Warehouse and Stock Yard, Cold Chain, among others. Additionally, alongside our road logistics operations, we are considering an expansion into rail and waterways. For waterway transportation, we are exploring the possibility of incorporating satellite-based communication devices.
How has the acquisition of Ranet4u in July this year enhanced the company’s operational efficiency?
The acquisition of Rane t4u (henceforth named eTranst4u) is a great strategic fit with its complementary core competencies and a wider portfolio of products and solutions. This acquisition not only provides us with the opportunity to increase our domestic footprint across India but also to establish a global presence.
The teams of eTrans and eTranst4u complement each other exceptionally well with their dynamic mix of experience and energy, eTrans is now stronger than ever and poised to deliver even greater value to its customers. It plans to focus on several initiatives such as enhancing real-time tracking capabilities, improving overall operational efficiency, investing in more cutting edge IoT/Technology, and nurturing talent and capabilities.
eTrans and eTrans t4u are working with major companies such as Tata Steel and its group companies, JSL, JSW, the Government of Jharkhand, Vedanta, CESC, Visa Steel, Neelachal Ispat, Air Liquide, Hindalco Industries, DHL, Amazon, Revv, Mahindra Logistics, JSMDC, RML, WSG Jotun, McDonald's, and more. eTrans Solutions takes pride in being the first company in India's tracking domain to hold both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 certifications.