Tyre manufacturer CEAT is literally planning to reinvent the wheel. The Harsh Goenka's RPG Group-owned company is working on tyres that have embedded Internet of Things (IOT) sensors, GPS trackers and use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide insights that can improve overall visibility over operations, and hopes to introduce them in the market sometime this year or in the first quarter of 2022.
Tyre management accounts for 15-20% of the total operational costs in managing large fleets, the second-highest after fuel. However, most logistics companies do not have the technology, data, and skillset to digitize and optimize tyre management on their own. CEAT says its new tyres will not reduce the cost incurred on managing them but also improve the safety of vehicles, drivers, and downtime caused by tyre accidents.
“A lot of things have gone for a toss because of Covid-19 and we've not been able to run it because the markets are closed. Thorough testing in the market is something that is happening as we speak. It has already been fitted in quite a few of the fleets that we manage,” Pali Tripathi, Vice-President of Sales Development and Fleet Solutions, CEAT, told TechCircle in an interview.
CEAT Fleet Solutions is the newest strategic business unit within Ceat focused on driving tech-enabled and service-led products' sales to commercial vehicles fleets across the country. It uses big data, AI and cutting-edge digital stack to enhance efficiency for large fleet operators.
Before building standalone Intelligent tyres, CEAT’s Fleets Solutions unit was working with the industry to achieve the same goals using traditional tyres and a stack of technologies operating behind the scenes. For instance, the unit used AI/ML-based predictive algorithm to recommend the right tyre for a fleet, based on the impact of variables like application, load, tyre pressure, road type, terrain, vehicle configuration, and axle.
The algorithm could also identify poor-performing tyres and suggest actions to improve them. “Through the predictive algorithm, we can tell what is going to happen to the tyre in future because of a certain type of driving behavior. This has been tested on historical data and hence the predictability coefficient is very high,” noted Tripathi.
Similarly, by using IoT devices such as tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), the company was able to gain real-time visibility into the status of tyres. For instance, if there is a drop or increase in tyre pressure or temp, an auto alert is raised and the driver is informed. In the case of a breakdown, customers can reduce the downtime and cost by using CEAT’s app-enabled roadside assistance network. Further, CEAT also integrated IoT applications with enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering real-time visibility on all tyre-related data points remotely through a single tool.
Intelligent tyres will take the existing tyre management stack and add more data points to it. “You don't need additional devices, like auto temperature pressure and NSD (non-skid depth) to be hooked on a tyre separately. We can get a lot of data from the tyre itself. Everything is welded into the intelligent tyre, so no tampering can happen. It can also provide more insights than existing TPMS. If we are getting 70 odd data parameters currently, the intelligent tyres will provide up to 1000,” Tripathi pointed out.
To ensure the new tyres and the fleet management solution work as effectively as other solutions, the company uses open APIs for everything. If the customer already has an ERP (enterprise resource planning) the first priority is to work with it.
To build the entire management stack, CEAT roped in several tech companies and startups. “Though we could have developed many of these technologies in-house, what is also needed is speed,” said Tripathi. The company partnered with Bosch to develop the iTyre hardware, software and ML Algorithms and with Deloitte to develop the algorithms on the fleet ERP data.
The partnership with Accenture helped in developing the business model and on-route solutions. “We did an equity tie-up with a startup that is almost like an SAP for fleets. We are in fact in the process of evaluating three more and equity deals with two of them will be happening very soon," added Tripathi.
CEAT’s Fleets Solutions currently manages more than 0.4 million CV (commercial vehicle) tyres across the country. It has grown at a CAGR of over 100% in the last three years and accounts for 20% of sales for CEAT for the Truck Radial category.