Truck tracking devices market set to take off

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Amit Mitra

Mumbai, June 1

AS Indian corporate houses are increasingly realising the importance of logistics in moving their products across the country, new business opportunities are emerging for providers of e-logistics services, or vehicle tracking systems.

The number of vehicles equipped with such tracking devices are, at present, few as also the number of companies that provide such solutions. But, industry experts feel, the scene is set to change soon, as more companies would doubtless jump on to the bandwagon and new tracking devices fill the logistics market.

An estimated 2.5-3 million trucks criss-cross the country every day, carrying a wide basket of products. Trucks in India log 300 km a day against 800 km in developed countries, which means that two-three days of country's production is locked up in idle time.

"A 10 per cent increase in the productivity of the trucks would mean a total annual saving of some Rs 20,000 crore. And this is possible only through a foolproof, easy to operate vehicle tracking system," says Mr V. Sanjeevi, Managing Director and CEO of the Chennai-based e-Logistics Pvt Ltd.

The concept of vehicle tracking started with the first generation product of data logging this had limitations as data would be logged on the device in a truck and could be downloaded only after the vehicle reached its destination.

Then came the second-generation product in the form of infra-red towers this too was short-lived as it required huge investments to set up the infra-red towers along the highways to track the vehicles. The third-generation product involved GPS/GSM models with fixed software even this was found to be expensive, with each device costing $500-900.

Now, a new range of products has emerged in the global market that is based on GPS/GSM models, but with a modular concept, offering two-way interaction between the truck owner and the driver all through the journey.

India has a few players offering vehicle-tracking products, the major ones being e-Logistics Ltd and Mobi Apps, with Reliance and other companies planning to enter the market. e-Logistics offers its patented e-tracking product, costing Rs 7,500 each, based on the GSM model.

"The device is fitted in trucks and as the vehicles pass by a cell phone tower, data get automatically transferred through the tower to our central computer. Using this, we can provide hourly or daily reports on the vehicle to its owner, who can access it through a computer or mobile phone. We offer details such as the location of the truck at a given point of time, number of kilometres logged, idle time and estimated time of arrival at destination," says Mr Sanjeevi.

The company now plans to upgrade the product using telematics or voice communication and remote control of temperature in the vehicles, which is important for trucks carrying refrigerated products.

Industry sources say that with only a few trucks that ply the Indian highways opting for such tracking systems, the market is still huge for the service providers. And, they point out that new products are likely to be introduced in the coming months.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 2, 2005)
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