Isreal-based technology major ERM Advanced Telematics is focused on the design, development and manufacture of innovative vehicle security and GPS tracking solutions, having presence across the world. Now ERM has been strengthening its activities in India. In an email interaction, ERM’s Chief Marketing Officer & Vice President for Business Development, Eitan Kirshenboim revealed about the company’s India-specific plans to Jaishankar Jayaramiah of Automotive India News.
How do you see the growth of the global vehicle security and telematics market in the past five years?
These are exciting times for the telematics market. Only a few years ago, a majority of the vehicle security and many of the other telematics services were based on GPS tracking only. Today, the improved access to and usage of telematics information is constantly being applied to create new and far reaching services.
Take for instance the new car sharing services that have been launched recently and are gaining traction in many major cities around the world. For these car sharing services, complex telematics processes mustbe implemented, which include driver recognition and provisioningto open the door and start the engine as well as granular pricing based on the actual distance driven. All this, while keeping the vehicle secured and safe from unauthorized use with communication technologies such as BLE and RF.
Also, in recent years the integration of telematics equipment with a vehicle’s CANBUS has enabled a wealth of diagnostic informationfrom a vehicle’s engine to be extracted. This CANBUS integration is enabling fleet management service providers to offer advanced telematics services that include monitoring engine temperate, DTC errors and safety features, such as the status of a seat belt.
Car manufacturers are also pushing the telematics market forward. Many launched their own telematics solutions to expand their on-going service to the end customer. But, somehad unsuccessful attempts and are now looking for aftermarket partners to access business opportunities.
How Telematics and vehicle security sector has been growing in India as compared to developed European and North American markets?
The market for telematics services in India is very strong and is growing rapidly. The requirements that we see and the types of telematics services that are being planned and launched in India are on par with those in the United States. Our business in Europe is growing steadily, although it does not compare to the strong growth that we are experiencing in India. India’s main push comes from new government regulations and initiatives.
Across India, we are involved in a number of highly innovative telematics initiatives like we have seen nowhere else in the world. For example, we are involved in a telematics service in India that monitors children as they get on and off school busses on their way to and from school. This project includes a complex chain of telematics events, including real-time alerts when certain thresholds are crossed.
We understand you sell your products to fleet operators. Are you also supplying your solutions to OEMs, who are your major Fleet operating customers worldwide?
Our go-to-market strategy involves establishing partnerships with local fleet management service providers who serve as our sales channel partners. These fleet management service providers are installing our telematics devices on the fleets of their end customers and are using the telematics information that our equipment gathers as the basis for the telematics services they provide. Our fleet management service provider partners have installed our telematics hardware on nearly every vehicle type possible from heavy duty trucks and industrial tractors to busses and vans to individual cars, taxis and motorcycles.
We have partnerships with fleet management service providers in over 55 countries around the world. Our fleet management service provider partners are leveraging the flexibility and modularity of our telematics solutions in order to define and offer virtually any type of telematics service. This positions our partnersto better serve their customers with an appropriate service offering and continually grow their businesses with new revenue streams by offering new and improved telematics services.
ERM is also working directly with Hyundai and Kia in South America. During the last couple of years, we have also begun developing OEM relationships with car manufacturers in India. With some of them, we are now already in the pilot stages. We are not yet able to disclose the name of this OEM partner, although I can say that ERM has just recently been assigned as the sole supplier of its telematics solution. The intention of this OEM arrangement is to supply this car manufacturer with our telematics solutions for all of its vehicles. The installation will be done on the assembly lines in India as well as some other countries in the East where it has manufacturing facilities.
Can you list out your advanced Telematics product portfolio?
ERM designs, develops and manufactures device-based telematics solutions for vehicle telematics, tracking and vehicle security. The company was established in 1985, is based in Israel and is a subsidiary of Ituran Group (NASDAQ:ITRN), a leading provider of advanced tracking and protection services for vehicles and drivers.
ERM’s telematics solutions are based on the company’s StarLink family of telematics and tracking devices. The StarLink line of devices offers high quality hardware and solutions that makes telematics services simple-to-use, easy-to-understand and fast-to-implement. Based on this vision, StarLink tracking and telematics devices include a flat protocol for simple integration with any telematics and fleet management software application. The StarLink device-based solutions are also built with straightforward modularity for adding features through a single wire, proprietary interface for connecting to a range of ERM and third party accessories. Each StarLink device comes with a 2G or 3G cellular module – and soon also 4G – and support for GPS and GLONASS location platform.
ERM’s device-based solutions offer its fleet management service provider partners two distinct competitive advantages.
First, in order to support the constant need to add features that support new operational requirements and telematics services, ERM’s devices are built with a modular design. On top of the base StarLink device, additional features and accessories can be added at any time, even after a device has been installed on a vehicle.
As an example, a new customer of a fleet management service typically begins with basic location tracking of its vehicle fleet. With time the customer can understand that it can save significant operational and maintenance costs by identifying and monitoring driving behavior considered to be problematic and inefficient, such as harsh braking or unnecessary acceleration. To support this, the customer will need only to add the driver monitoring accessory to the existing StarLink devices already installed on the vehicles in its fleet. At any time, the customer can add additional accessories to further control and reduce operational and maintenance costs. Examples include accessories to monitor vehicle diagnostics, such as tire pressure, fuel levels, engine temperature and much more. Again, these additional accessories only need to be connectedto the existing StarLinkdevice.
Second, ERM’s accessories are built with embedded processors and designed to gather telematics statistics according to configurable, predefined rule-based models. This means that ERM’s devices-based solutions only gather the information that is relevant and required by the telematics service provider partners and their customers. This makes the gathered telematics information less expensive to transfer over the cellular network and easier to analyze.
The collection of telematics statistics according to rule-based models along with the modular design of ERM’s devices enables the company to efficiently customize solutions to support the business logic of nearly any telematics service. This positions the company’s fleet management service provider partners to constantly improve their service offerings, pursue new initiatives, win more business and lead their markets.
Are your products sold in India too? If so elaborate about it. Indicate a few of your customers here.
Yes, our telematics devices are being sold in India with good success. In the past year, we tripled the number of our devices that were installed in India and we are expecting to expand sales at an even higher rate in the coming years.
We have established a number of partnerships with a range of fleet management service providers in India. Today, most of the major telematics service players are with us. Many offer a traditional fleet management services to help their customers better manage their fleet of vehicles by reducing operational costs and improving driver and vehicle safety Some of them offer highly specialized telematics services and pursue niche business opportunitieswith advanced features and technologies.
We are not in the position to disclose the names of our Indian partners, although we can say that our telematics devices are installed in India across awide variety of vehicle types in the trucking industry and onpublic transportation and commercial fleets, such as busses, taxis, rickshaws and tractors vehicles along withindividual carand motorbike owners.
When did you start your operations in India? Please narrate about your company’s set up in India with the details like whether you have R&D here, office locations, size of work force, nature of business activities, investment etc
ERM has been investing in India for the past four years and consider the country to be a strong growth market for us. We have our administration and logistics, including a storage andan assembly facility in New Delhi. Our sales and support team is based in Pune. This team is responsible for engaging relations with fleet management service providers and providing support to our Indian partners.
What are your future plans for India?
First and foremost, we expect that our sales in India will continue to grow. We are in the process of expanding our relationships with our Indian fleet management service providers. We also expect to begin generating revenue from OEM sales in India in the near future.
To support these growing sales activities, we will be expanding our local staff in India. At the same time, we will also need to expand our assembly line facility in New Delhi. We are actually considering using the assemblyline to support orders not only in India, but also sales throughout the Middle East and the Far East.
India saw sudden spurt in road transport sector in recent years with thousands of heavy duty vehicles added in the fleets of major fleet operators in the country. How do you see this opportunity benefiting you?
Yes, this represents a good market opportunity for ERM and our Indian partners.
For our fleet management service provider partners in India, we can easily help them adjust existing telematics services or define new telematics services targeted at heavy duty vehicles.
For fleet managers of heavy duty vehicles, location tracking is only the starting point. These fleet managers must be in the position to control operational costs and create more safety for their fleets and drivers. We can help them properly manage vehicle diagnostics information anywhere from tire pressure to engine temperate to fuel usage and any sophisticated threshold of combined information from the CANBUS, GPS and up to driving behavior.
The driverbehavior monitoring must also be fine-tuned to the profile of vehicles in this segment. This can help prevent unnecessary wear-and-tear caused by inefficient acceleration and harsh braking. Using our solution makes it simple and easy to receive alerts based on the driving behavior no matter what kind of vehicle is being used thanks to a predefined profiling software we supply.
You recently launched the StarLink eConnect – an anti-theft vehicle tracking device. How is the response for this product in the market? Is it available in the Indian market?
Yes, we introduced our StarLink eConnect device about nine months ago. This device uniquely combines anti-jamming techniques and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to improve stolen vehicle recovery rates. There is a strong demand for ourStarLink eConnect device in South America and here in Israel and we have many success stories for this product in these markets.
As for India,unfortunatelystolen vehicle recovery services currently do not exist in the country. However, if a telematics service provider would like to begin offering a stolen vehicle recovery service in India, we are certainly open to new partnerships and have great solutions that can be the basis for a w