Emerging Entrepreneurs

How to manage remote assets on the go

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on July 08, 2019

LN Rajaram, Director, KritiLabs Technologies   -  N Ramakrishnan

Srikrishna V, Director - Business Solutions, KritiLabs Technologies   -  N Ramakrishnan

KritiLabs’ IoT platform takes care of the many facets of long-distance security

It was thanks to circumstances that Srikrishna V, whose interests were in deep tech and real-time systems, got acquainted with LN Rajaram, who loved to solve problems. So, when Srikrishna wanted to start his own venture in real-time systems, it was to Rajaram that he turned to, to partner him in the venture. The two combined their interests and expertise to start KritiLabs Technologies, which uses IoT to help companies in real-time monitoring of their remote assets.

When the two teamed up, says Srikrishna, they were clear they wanted to do something in the IoT space, which was in a nascent stage even in the West then. They looked at prevailing products in India that would fit into the IoT space and the only thing then was a vehicle tracking system. They realised that many were using GPS (Global Positioning System) in vehicles to solve problems that they were not originally intended for. For instance, pilferage, says Srikrishna. Truck operators, especially those ferrying fuel and lubricants from refineries to retail outlets, were using GPS on their vehicles to track for pilferage. “We came out with a platform and identified four different areas where this can be applied. In many cases, we found that remote asset management was the problem they were trying to solve,” says Srikrishna.

There are a few facets to managing a remote asset – security, process, compliance and return on investment. “You cannot have one single product which does all this. The only way you can accomplish this is by creating a platform in which you can have multiple products being attached and orchestrated based on business rules,” says Srikrishna. That is what KritiLabs did. “We created a platform called ALS (Advanced Learning Solution), an IoT digital platform for remote asset management. Using ALS, you can have different devices connected to the platform, where the server creates rules for operating the devices,” he says.

Each industry has its own set of processes and compliance issues. One of the industries where KritiLabs deployed its platform was the oil sector, where fuel and lubricants have to be transported from refineries to retail outlets. There were security issues involved, questions of pilferage of the cargo and compliance aspects that had to be taken care of. It was a cumbersome process for the oil company that was sending the cargo or the retailer which was receiving to ensure there would be no pilferage. It was an old-fashioned system where locks were used on the trucks and they would could be opened only at the specified retailer at a specific area in the retail outlet. This required maintaining multiple locks and sets of keys.

What KritiLabs came up with was a server for fuel transportation management on the ALS platform. This software will be integrated with the oil company’s ERP. So, when a retailer pays for a load of cargo, KritiLabs will receive a copy of the message and the server will create real-time rules. The rules will specify which oil terminal the truck will get filled up, after which it will get locked and which retail outlet it will go to. The server will send out a one-time-password to the retail outlet and the truck’s lock can be opened only when the truck is within the specified area in that retail outlet. KritiLabs makes the device that is used to lock the trucks at a facility in Chennai.

Digital lock

According to Srikrishna, KritiLabs handles about 600 trips on a daily basis, which means about $200 million worth of cargo is handled by the platform automatically. All the rules come in real time, all these rules get defined in real time. They get pushed to the device and the devices operate based on these rules, he explains. There are no keys to maintain and there is a digital audit trail of where the lock was opened, when it was opened. Right from the time the cargo was loaded into the truck, the entire operation is captured digitally. The OTPs are generated only if the truck goes to the specified geo-location.

Apart from the oil industry, KritiLabs’ product is being deployed in other industries such as mining, dairy, gold NBFC and can be deployed in any other industry where there are issues of managing remote assets.

“This platform,” says Rajaram, “monitors, controls and ensures the way you want the environment to interact with the internet through this device. That is the IoT platform that we have created.” The rules are based on what the customer wants. “Our aim,” he says, “is to get into every domain of human endeavour where we are at a disadvantage in terms of either geography or in terms of complexity of the problem.”

KritiLabs, according to Srikrishna, came out with a Beta version of the product in January 2014, after which the company started the work of customising it for different industries. It tested out the product for six months with an oil company and the first commercial sale happened in 2016. KritiLabs had to understand each industry and create a long-term digital roadmap for each of them.

KritiLabs has a 24x7 command centre to help operate all the devices across the country. “We have operations in seven States and our devices operate in close to 2,000 locations every day,” says Srikrishna. The company can make around 6,000 devices a month. It has a cloud-based solution if customers want one such services and for large customers, it provides Device as a Service, where KritiLabs provides an end-to-end solution.

Looking for funds

According to the two founders, KritiLabs, which is bootstrapped, is looking to raise ₹25-40 crore ($4-6 million) to scale up the business, both geographically and across sectors. There are also enormous global opportunities for the product.

They are proud of the 75-member team that they have, mostly engineers from colleges in smaller towns. In particular, says Srikrishna, they have instilled the idea of continuous learning in their team members.


Published on July 08, 2019

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