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Supply Chain

How Fleetx helps manufacturers and fleet owners, to reduce logistics cost

Fleetx helps fleet owners reduce operations cost and improve vehicle utilisation while for manufacturers it provides real time visibility in the supply chain and solves challenges like cargo theft, improves delays & detention, driver safety, vendor collaboration etc with the use of IoT (Internet of Things) and analytics.

Vineet Sharma, chief executive officer & co-founder, Fleetx
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Vineet Sharma, chief executive officer & co-founder, Fleetx

October 11, 2021: Founded in 2017 by IIT, NIT, and Purdue University graduates Vineet Sharma, Abhay Jeet Gupta, Udbhav Rai, Parveen Kataria, and Vishal Misra, Fleetx is an AI-powered freight movement platform that helps logistics stakeholders digitise their operations and provide real-time actionable insights using IoT and analytics. Fleetx helps fleet owners reduce operations cost and improve vehicle utilisation while for manufacturers it provides real time visibility in the supply chain and solves challenges like cargo theft, improves delays & detention, driver safety, vendor collaboration etc with the use of IoT (Internet of Things) and analytics.

In an exclusive interview, Vineet Sharma, chief executive officer & co-founder, Fleetx, is talking to ITLN about the Indian logistics industry, manufacturing and fleet owner clients, solutions, case studies and future.

Give me an introduction to your career and a historical perspective to the Indian logistics industry from the technology point of view.
I graduated from IIT Roorkee in 2008 and worked with companies like Oracle and Accenture in my early days as a software engineer. Then I joined ixigo as one of their early members in 2010, worked there for 7 years and was leading their engineering team. We started Fleetx in 2017 with my other co-founders, who are also from ixigo.

Thanks to ixigo, we got a chance to meet a lot of taxi fleet owners in late 2016, as we were trying to build a taxi aggregator product in ixigo. I was surprised to know that they were doing most of their operation in a very inefficient and pen and paper approach where most of the data was scattered with no visibility in real time.

People were also not realizing the return on investment (ROI), or benefit which they can get from that data. So that was a clear gap and we thought that there is a need for an intelligent fleet management platform that can digitize the end to end operations for the fleet owners and also provide real-time actionable insights using the IoT and analytics. That's how we built the first product in late 2017.

If you would have asked me four or five years back, India was a laggard in terms of digital adoption. First, the way the government is focusing on the digitization of this particular industry, allocating budget, coming up with an affable mechanism and fast-tracking mandatory GPS in the commercial vehicles etc. Second, the way e-commerce is growing in India, almost 30-35 percent year on year growth, is pushing the overall ecosystem towards unused technology. Thirdly, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragileness in the supply chain and now most of the companies have started appointing chief digital officers or chief innovation officers where they ask them to implement technologies, find the use cases which are critical for them or make them enable if this kind of a situation arises in the future they are still able to survive.

How you started Fleetx in 2017 and where is Fleetx standing right now?
We started as a fleet management platform catering to 20 fleets to 2000-3000 fleets. While we were solving a lot of challenges for the fleet owners, especially in the trucks and logistics segment, we also got to look closely at the manufacturing side of things as well.

We have realized that the product which we have built using the IoT and analytics can be relevant for the manufacturers to solve some of their use cases like real-time visibility in the inbound logistics, where the raw material is coming into the plant. Earlier there were challenges around poor collaboration with the transporters, poor visibility during the journey, cargo theft and there was no mechanism to know delay on the raw material supply chain.

So we launched our product in August 2019 and we have also started reaching out to manufacturers and solved some of their large unsolved challenges. One of the early use cases which we have solved for some of the large customers was cargo theft. With the help of a sensor and analytics layer, we were able to reduce the pilferages by 80 percent.

Now we are going more horizontal in terms of industry-wise reach and have already identified 4-5 unique use cases in the supply chain logistics which can be solved through Fleetx platform. We already have customers in industries like FMCG, cement, iron, steel, paper, courier, glass, tyre etc. We are in a unique position now where we are able to solve the challenges of fleet owners as well as manufacturers with the same base product with different insights.

What is the geographical reach of Fleetx?
We have a presence primarily in India across cities so far but We have started our expansion in South East Asia, Middle East, North Africa regions and have already closed a few deals just in a couple of months. We were supposed to enter new geographies last year, but due to Covid-19, we were not able to do that.

Who are your clients? Are they fleet owners or small truck owners?
On the fleet owner's side, we usually focus on the mid to large ones like Om Logistics, Express Roadways, which are very large vehicle owners. But typically we have customers who have at least more than 20 fleets. The average fleet size is 30-40 vehicles, on the higher side, it can even go beyond 2,000 vehicles. We also have clients like Ultratech, JK Cement, Dalmia Bharat, CavinKare, Adani Wilmar, Varun Beverages, Khanna Papers, Saint Gobain and DTDC.

Who are the competitors and how are you positioned against them?
We have two sets of customers: fleet owners as well as manufacturers. In the fleet owners, there are again two three segments-which is less than 20 fleets, which are small fleet owners, and mid to large fleets which are greater than 20 fleets. On the product side, there are three functions primarily: planning, visibility and analytics and fleet marketplace and ancillary services. We are mostly present in the visibility and the analytics segments and mostly on the mid to large fleet owners.

On the manufacturing side, we are primarily present in the first mile, line haul and plant automation. We are not focusing on the last mile segment as well as we are not planning to go in the services/ancillary platform play.

Can you give me a case study of how you've helped an important client?
On the fleet owners side, I can give you one case study where we were able to improve the fleet utilization by almost 25 to 30 percent. Earlier they were using manual driven job dispatch management on pen and paper or by calling. So when we gave them a platform where they can manage their dispatches automatically or also get to know about the predicted delay, detention time and get the right alert at the right time so that they can manage and improve the overall delay on a particular customer. That has not only solved or improved customer satisfaction because vehicles start reaching on time but also helped them improve the number of deliveries on a particular week or in a month. If they were able to do 3-4 deliveries in a month, after using Fleetx they were able to make at least 6 deliveries in a month by using our advance route and dispatch management on the long haul and the linehaul deliveries. There are lots of other impacts which we are having on fuel management, service management etc. Where we can reduce fuel consumption by 8 to 10 percent and improve the overall driver performance by 10 percent.

On the manufacturing side, one of the primary use cases we have solved was cargo theft. If you look at the overall cargo theft in volumes right, top manufacturers lose around ₹100 crore every year. We have given them the real-time risk score on each delivery they are doing and they were able to reduce the pilferages by 80 percent. We have helped them reduce the theft and identify the potentially risky deliveries so that they can penalize the transport or the people involved in them.

What are your priorities in terms of the solutions provided?
Logistics is a huge industry and the backbone of any economy. Covid has exposed a lot of issues in the current working of the supply chain across the world and now all the logistics stakeholders have realised that digitisation is a necessity, not just an option. We at Fleetx are already seeing this transformation where large enterprises are approaching us inbound and asking for different solutions we have built. These are leaders in different industries and now looking to digitally transform their supply chain. We are going more and more enterprise-focused and are targeting more large and mid-sized manufacturers and trying to solve their logistics challenges by using technology like IoT and applying machine learning on top of it to solve them. Our vision is to build a global logistics automation company for all stakeholders and solve their logistics operations and provide them with real-time actionable insights.

What are your priorities in terms of the industries that you serve? How about e-commerce?
In terms of industry priorities, we would like to focus on wherever there is a large dependency on road transportation like cement, iron, chemical, oil & gas, agriculture, container industry, textile, paper, FMCG.

What is the return on investment calculator on your website?
It is about choosing what exactly you're looking for. It is primarily for the fleet owners. What type of vehicles do you have, what are their current numbers and based on those numbers our calculator will help you identify what will be your return on investment if you start using Fleetx.

You're giving so many solutions to clients, but are there any new demands coming from the client's side?
One of the primary things they are looking for is to avoid having multiple vendors and multiple dashboards. So we are trying to bring everything into a single platform as much as possible, although no company can solve all the use cases for any sort of logistics player.

New demands are like driver safety, spot bidding, transportation management system, route/dispatch and delay management. Now every company is realizing they need visibility through the platform that has control over all the deliveries.

How intelligent is your technology compared to these competitors or as per the market standard?
Telematics has been there in India for the last 8-10 years but there were 2 major challenges, 1. It was broken in terms of accuracy and uptime, 2. Most of the customers were using just a plain track and trace and 95% of the operations were still manual without any integration. In the last 6-7 years, most of the focus by all the legacy companies and the new telematics companies were to sell the devices and not focusing much on the software side of the things or the analytics. If you look from a customer's point of view he is not going to download every report and go through it manually. What they need is recommendations on where to take action. If you have 100 trucks or 100 drivers running for you, he just wants to know which are the drivers not performing well, which are the vehicles that have no mileage, that are running low on the utilization and which are the vehicles that have high service cost.

Our platform is helping them be more proactive rather than reactive.

We have also solved a gap of accuracy and uptime of the data in the industry. Most of the devices were not up to the mark in terms of uptime and we were somewhere around 90 percent of uptime and accuracy in terms of the odometer and fuel consumption. So now we have the best uptime and accuracy in the industry by far and that has been one of the advantages when we reach out to any customer.

What happened in your last financial year and what we could expect from this financial year? How well funded is your company right now?
Since Sept 2020, we have grown almost 2.2X even though Covid-19 has impacted us due to the lockdown during the first wave and the second wave, still, we were able to retain most of the customers. Our net revenue retention is somewhere around 150 percent. And looking after the second wave, we now have a very strong pipeline in terms of the new projects which we are now working on and are at the closing stage. As far as capital is concerned, we have been capital efficient and frugal so far with the very little amount raised. Now, We are going into the market for our next fundraise which will be used in product/engineering and GTM expansion. We are aiming to grow 4X from what we are now in terms of revenue by the end of Dec, 22.

What can we expect from you shortly in terms of new solutions, or partnerships?
We are working on some new products primarily for manufacturers. We are doing lots of research and development work in order to launch new solutions which will be an industry first. Also, we are looking for ways to make some additional products on the huge data which we are sitting on e.g: connecting different stakeholders into a single platform is also in the pipeline. Overall, the focus is on identifying new use cases and solving the challenges together for the customers.

Libin Chacko Kurian

Libin Chacko Kurian

Principal Correspondent at STAT Media Group, he has six years of experience in business journalism covering food & beverage, nutraceuticals and now logistics. His current passion is to understand the nuances of global supply chains and their current turmoil. Outside work, he is also interested in philosophy, history, birding and travelling. Mail him: libin@statmediagroup.com


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