Wheels on e-way

HOW OFTEN have you seen truck owners, company officials, consignors and consignees anxiously awaiting news of the truck's position? Drivers suddenly run out of money, making it difficult for them to call their owners. They fall sick en route. Worse, they are involved in accidents.

How does the owner tackle such problems? How does he get information about his trucks and keep track of them? People are increasingly thinking of IT-enabled services.

One such idea is the one mooted by Asia on Wheels. It's actually called `aasiaonwheels' or `aAOW' in short. (The `a' before Asia is a numerological requirement). The service was ambitiously launched in the happening city of Hyderabad recently.

How does `aAOW' work? First of all, the owner coughs up Rs. 150 per truck to `aAOW' and then its value for money. `aAOW' has set up a network of data collection centres, local offices and regional offices all over the country.

Once the network is complete and established all over India, Nepal and Bangladesh, there will be 87 regional offices or Master Franchisees (MF), 2,358 local offices or Area Franchisees (AF) and 14,000 Track Location Centers (TLC). It has taken the company over a year of hard work to reach the launch phase. "In six more months, we will have expanded as envisaged, to cover all the three countries.'' Ours is a family and an ever-expanding one,'' says a confident Mantena A. Raaju (a believer in numerology).

A brief idea of how the system works. Every driver has a smart card. At designated STRD booths along the highway, he stops and swipes the card, feeding information as to his position. In booths where there is no smart card machine, the information is fed to the system by the operator, using an interactive voice response system, all for a small fee of as less as Rs. 2.

The information is collected over the wire by the local offices and uploaded onto the net, once an hour. After the uploading is complete, the local office downloads information pertaining to the movement of the trucks registered with it (for a small monthly charge) and responds to telephone calls from those interested.

The system not only provides for info on truck movement, it also plans to host info on load availability, owner-driver-owner communication, sale of vehicles and the like.

By Suresh Krishnamoorthy

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