Close to two years and Minda iConnect has grown to draw new clients.

Anwesh Koley

Working closely with a large multinational CV OEM to employ its telematics platform and hardware, Minda iConnect is aggressively pursuing growth. It is eyeing a big chunk of the telematics market in the CV industry, which is populated by a few organised and many unorganised players. Securing AIS140 certification from ICAT in 2018, which is about the need for public transport vehicles (buses primarily) and cabs to have an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) onboard, the company, considered as the single largest organised player in CV telematics, and buses especially, post its acquisition of KPIT VTS and ITS business, is looking at drawing new clients in its field. Incorporated in 2014, with a vision to offer end to end ‘connected car’ solutions, Minda iConnect, an Uno Minda Group company, is running telematics programs with Tata Motors, VECV, and Force Motors. Working with SML Isuzu to come out with the SML Saarthi app., the company is engaging with CV OEMs to help them comply with the AIS140 regulation.

Keen to provide useful functionality on the operator’s smartphone to turn his experience of running the business into a productive and profitable venture, Minda iConnect is offering the CV industry CAN-based telematics solutions to ensure effective connectivity. It is leveraging IoT and AI to provide the CV industry with fleet management solutions, which go beyond real-time track and trace. Focusing on safety and reliability, the company has developed a B2B telematics solution that can be used by an operator or a fleet owner to track consignments in real-time, along with SLA enforcements, which provides information about route deviations, in-transit delays or over-speeding. Keen to get the CV operators to look at the journey risk management feature it offers, the solution is engineered such that if a breakdown occurs at any point in time, a human-managed control room guides the driver to the nearest hub. It is a feature, that Kartikeya Joshi, Business Head, Minda iConnect Pvt. Ltd., expressed will benefit the consignor (consignee), truck operator and the workshop.

Application matters

As an IoT-based technology, the telematics solutions that Minda iConnect is offering, from a transporter’s perspective, can be remotely connected to the vehicle and uses GPRS to track movement. Termed as iConnect, it is one of the most sought after as well as the most used function that the telematics platform offers. With the constant increase in electronic content in vehicles, the Telematics Control Unit (TCU), according to Joshi, can interface with other ECUs within the vehicle. It can pull out data regarding the engine operations and upload it on the cloud. This information could be processed and acted upon. The hardware unit on the CV is linked via the OBD. In the case of SML Saarthi, Minda iConnect has presented the operator an opportunity to check the exact position of his vehicle and plan the shipments accordingly. It has also presented him with an opportunity to carry out dashboard analytics, SOS, Live Tab, Alert Tab and report retrieval. Providing consignment safety and re-assuring the transporter of timely delivery, the app. was developed to ensure vehicle safety and security. In the case of SML Isuzu, it is enabling SML Isuzu customers an enhanced experience, according to Joshi. The app., he added, reflects on the ability of Minda iConnect to work closely with an OEM to address his needs. Through the Saarthi app., SML Isuzu is ensuring seamless operations for its customers, Joshi informed.

The way the technology works is interesting. Said to be offered on SML buses as well, the technology works by tracking the movement of the CV from the time it leaves the production unit. Such detailing eliminates the need to constantly keep in touch with the driver and ask him about his whereabouts. Turning real-time inventory management into an easy task, Minda iConnect, through the telematics technology, is aiding quick action in case of an emergency by pressing the SOS button. Alerts are sent to the nearest SML service centre about the location of the truck. Terming the Saarthi app. as an advanced app., Joshi mentioned that it is not only designed and tested to ensure safety through better risk assessment, it is also designed to provide engine diagnostics for all vehicles. Enabling seamless breakdown assistance, the Saarthi app., according to Joshi, is quite versatile. Confident that it will go into an SOP soon with a major CV manufacturer, Minda iConnect is also working on solutions for electric vehicles. Its anticipating range anxiety to be an area of concern, and therefore looking at tailoring its solution to ensure the issue is addressed. Revealed Joshi, that the solution will alert the driver regarding the range left in the vehicle. It will also indicate the nearest charging station and the best route to reach it. Focusing on an increase in uptime and route optimisation, the solution would aid timely roadside assistance and predictive maintenance.

Connected tech

Tapping into machine learning and AI, Minda iConnect is innovating. It is carrying out research and development to get a transporter to monitor driver behaviour, and to get the necessary feedback. These two aspects, expressed Joshi, have become an important aspect of fleet operations. The function, he said, includes the supply of tips to improve safety and efficiency. “Predictive maintenance ensures that relevant information regarding the vehicle is passed on to the driver to ensure corrective action before its late,” he added. Certain that software adoption in vehicles will go up substantially, the company, in its pursuit of growth, is looking at the need to provide over-the-air flash or re-flash of the software. It is looking at it with the need to tune it as per the mobility requirements. Confident that technology will mature over time, Minda iConnect is also looking at how crucial it will be to process and update the data generated. The ability to process, it is well-aware, would help to monitor and address the vehicle requirements. The TCU will need to address this effectively, according to Joshi.

With cybersecurity assuming importance due to the influx of large amounts of data, Minda iConnect is working in the field of data acquisition, storage, and usage. It is doing so with an eye on how electronics will proliferate in a vehicle and come to offer higher connectivity as well as automation. In terms of safety and comfort, as well as reliability. Acknowledging the importance of data acquisition in the case of software and hardware encryption, the company is looking at how embedded electronics-based systems and modules are evolving. It is looking at components like a microcontroller, which has an in-built capability to provide hardware-based security, in the evolution of telematics as technology and IoT as a means. Understanding the importance as well as the role of a microcontroller to encrypt data, Minda iConnect is also working on how data could be stored on the cloud and accessed. The microcontroller, it is aware, is an essential element in the scheme of things for data to be encrypted while being transferred from the hardware and while being decrypted once transferred to the server.

The way ahead

With data storage being encrypted, duplicated and stored in data centres at multiple geographic locations, Minda iConnect is looking at how duplication would help in the case of data loss or damage at one location. In such an instance, other centres still have the data safe and negate any loss of data, averred Joshi. In the final stage of data usage, there is a strict privacy policy followed, he informed. Contracts are signed with OEMs to stipulate the anonymous data usage policies for product improvement and its quality enhancement, he revealed. Despite the stringent requirements in place, Mindia iConnect is keen that industry-aligned standards on cybersecurity and data usage are in place. These are important to address the hardware specifications as well as the basic operating principles of the hardware that goes into an IoT platform. Mentioned Joshi, that there are working groups currently active within industry bodies like NASSCOM, which are formulating guidelines to create a sustainable ecosystem for data handling.

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