Sanghi's Rs. 200 cr. project for vehicle monitoring
Date: 26-04-1999 :: Pg: 18 :: Col: f
By P. Vikram Reddy
HYDERABAD A unique concept of networking national highways of
about 32,000 km (besides important State highways) through ``a
telecom and logistics support infrastructure project'', is taking
shape. Called the Highway Automation System (HAS), it seeks to
set up electronic kiosks at every 50 km distance on the highways
as monitoring points, while the vehicles themselves are fitted
with an electronic monitoring device called `vehicle set'.
With Indian roads spread across an estimated 50,000 km (including
national highways), two million people using the highways, and 30
lakh transport carriers moving about, the project provides
Behind this gigantic and first of its kind project in India, is a
Hyderabad-based firm called Sparsh Communications, which
commenced operations six years ago as an advertising agency,
diversified into software development and is now emerging as a
major innovator. And the brain behind the concepts being
developed (some more innovative ones are in the offing) by the
software division is Mrs. Anjana Sanghi, belonging to the Sanghi
family, who is its managing director.
Another unique software being developed is the commodity
intelligent system (CIS), which the company is keeping under
wraps for the moment. Beyond saying that the CIS is linked to the
functioning of market yards, and that it will be highly
beneficial to the farming community, Mrs. Sanghi prefers to
retain the veil of secrecy on the project. Other concepts being
developed are the remote examination system (RES) and library
The HAS, however, is going full steam ahead, and plans are on to
have it inaugurated in Hyderabad. Truck operators are its primary
target and beneficiaries also, as it helps optimise time
utilisation and enhances revenues to operators. Under HAS,
vehicles fitted with special devices monitored through
communication kiosks set up on the highways.
Vehicles registered with HAS will be fitted with the device, each
of which has a unique code number, enabling the kiosk to monitor
the vehicle automatically as it passes the kiosk. The sets are
hermetically sealed and tamper proof. The code number serves as
the ID code number for identification of the truck. The antenna
on the device sends and picks up signals as it passes the kiosks,
automatically registering its presence.
The first station (kiosk) was set up in Vijayawada, some six
months back. ``To cover 70 per cent of the traffic (trucks) we
need to establish 266 kiosks across the country", Mrs. Sanghi
said. Already, 250 are in place and 2,000 vehicles covered under
the project. By May 15, 355 stations will be in place. She said
about Rs. 35 crores had already been invested in the Rs. 200
crore project, for which 350 people are working, besides 120 in
the software division.
Each station costs about Rs. 12 lakhs and a vehicle set about Rs.
3,200. But for a truck operator, subscription to HAS services is
as little as Rs. 20 a day, which include tracking, messaging and
`SOS' calls also in case of breakdowns and robberies. Messages
via networked V-Sat are transmitted to all kiosks.
For a project cost of Rs. 200 crores, she says a customer base of
one lakh truck operators would be the breakeven point, which the
company hopes to have in a year's time. About 40 per cent of the
30 lakh trucks in the country are in the organised sector, making
it that much easier to market the product. Talks are on with
Bajaj, Gati (sampling being done), TCI (under finalisation), and
some have been installed with Hyundai.
In future, value-added services are also planned such as tracking
records (which big corporates can download) and electronic
freight transfer (of funds) which eliminates necessity for truck
drivers to carry large cash.
``In Sanghi itself we are paying at least Rs. 1 lakh daily as
freight", she pointed out implying that drivers return to their
destinations with that much of cash on person, making them
targets for highway robberies.
The HAS will be a boon to the transport sector, by optimising
utilisation of time schedules, ensuring continuous contact
between the driver and the base office, besides alerting parent
companies of any problems faced by drivers enroute. The
inspiration of course was the global positioning system (GPS),
but there is a sea of difference between the two. HAS is a system
developed to suit the Indian road and communication
infrastructure conditions or lack of them.
Basically meant for truck operators, spinoff effects can be felt
by the corporates like efficient monitoring of stocks and
optimising working capital utilisation. Corporates can dial
Sparsh through modem and access and monitor the movement of their
Incidentally, Mrs. Sanghi received the best entrepreneur award
from the All India Motor Congress recently, for developing the
HAS. Their network can take up to 25 lakh truck operators, she
said. A big chunk of the investment will be going into
transponders and own hubs, she said.
Newsbit furnished by:
A: NetShift Software Ltd.
A: Hughenden Yard, Marlborough, Wilts,SN8 1LT, UK
T: +44 (0)1672 511 094
F: +44 (0)1672 511 078
E: [email protected]