Aarjav Trivedi, CEO, and founder, Ridecell, recently joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how digitalization and automation of fleets lead to increased revenue and profitability for logistics and mobility companies.
In the second installment of our three-part series, Aarjav talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the transportation industry and how the Ridecell platform helps fleet industries adapt to survive in these uncertain times.
GB: How do you manage a global organization where different countries have different responses to COVID-19?
AT: Ridecell has made tremendous strides, not only despite COVID-19 but because of it. We’ve just raised another $45 million, and the credit goes to the team. Our business and our customers’ businesses have been impacted in a pretty negative way, but some in a very positive way. If there’s one thing that has helped us come out of the pandemic stronger, it’s our core value of ‘obstacle is the way.’
We have a team that I think was visionary enough in 2018. We started with a vision to help increase utilization and solve the problem for ALL fleets and logistics. We had built relationships with the likes of Penske. We were powering with these entities. We had gone from being a carsharing platform to a platform that enables digitization of access to the vehicle fleets, digitization of monetization, and digitization and automation using data from all fleet operations. That expansion of the value proposition to these diverse market segments is what put us in a very good place when COVID-19 hit.
If you are a diverse logistics organization or leasing organization, with hundreds of thousands of vehicles across Europe or America, even if one of your locations has to shut down and people have to go home because one of your employees was infected, you still need business to go on, right? So, digitization became extremely important–in fact, it became critical.
It was always crucial for large organizations to have digital access, digital monetization, and automation. Not much is being done with all the data that’s generated, so although it was always important for organizations to use this data to automate decisions, it was not urgent for many of them. So, what COVID-19 did was to make it extremely urgent. That allowed us to be in the right place at the right time because we had put in the work to build the relationships and build a platform to enable these use cases. COVID-19 helped people to ramp up their adoption.
GB: Is logistics the fastest-growing part of your business now?
AT: Yes, I would say both logistics and then, more broadly, commercial fleets. If you look at the structure of the largest fleets, you will see truck rental and leasing, which enabled consumer transportation, mobility, and renting trucks to consumers.
Folks like Toyota in Europe announced their vision in January, which we have helped accelerate. Which is a single platform Kinto, which is not just carsharing, or car rentals, but it’s also Kinto One which is leasing and can do flex-subscriptions and flexible leasing. These entities, which are the largest commercial, mobility companies globally, that often include fleet leasing companies, are cognizant that there is a synergy to providing fully digital services. This is not only vehicles but financing, insurance, and maintenance, to multiple use cases, both consumer and commercial.
Ecommerce penetration, from what I’ve seen, has grown more in the past ten months than in the previous ten years. And a very direct result of that is, the need for utilization of these vehicles has grown. Not only the number of vehicles but now, you need to run these vehicles as much as possible. You can have the best telematics and vehicles, but an average logistics fleet still requires sometimes waiting a day or two to fix a puncture. This is because the vehicle is telling the cloud ‘I have a puncture,’ but it requires a human being to look at it, and a human being to say, ‘should I send someone there now?’, ‘should I have this vehicle taken to the trucking location?’ ‘should I have Bridgestone go and fix it?’ Automating that decision is crucial.
So, data is so important, but it is critical to connect this data to the decision-making that is connected with the ecosystem. This includes your repair partners, your employees, and your insurance company. That’s one of Ridecell’s strongest value propositions–automating the decisions that increase revenue, decrease cost and increase yield, and increase sustainability! If you’re not going to need two vehicles to do the job of one, and if you’re going to actually use the vehicle for 12 hours a day, you’re much more likely to use an electric vehicle because it is far cheaper to have a high utilization electric vehicle than a diesel vehicle. So, you know, what’s good for business is also good for the world.
GB: How can the Ridecell platform help courier companies be faster and run more efficiently?
AT: Amazon is a great example! They’re absolutely the leader in eCommerce. If you look at some of the top eCommerce companies globally, they have ramped up their public data. Amazon has ramped up from almost zero to tens of thousands of last-mile logistics vehicles in a matter of three years. As a result, you end up with systems that have scaled rapidly, but where you still might need to literally install key cupboards, so drivers are not losing keys because a lost key is 300 packages not delivered. You can have the best telematics and thousands of vehicles, but a human being might need to look at the data to say, ‘what should I do?’ ‘is this vehicle punctured?’ ‘does it have a Bridgestone or a Continental tire?’
Ridecell digitizes that entire process, so with our platform, there are no key cupboards. The driver can just walk up, touch a card or phone, unlock the truck and go. If the truck has a problem, they can switch it off, leave the truck on the side of the road, and the next person who comes to fix it can access the truck. Most importantly, we take all the data from amazing telematics companies like DENSO or directly from the vehicles or Geotab. And we can take this data and make sense of it. Instead of just ending up in a database, we’re able to automate the actual decision. So if there’s a problem with the truck, it’s back online in six hours instead of 48. In doing so, we are enabling the available capacity for utilization.
An average eCommerce vehicle has four-tire punctures a year, it’s not uncommon for a vehicle with a punctured tire to take 48 hours to be fixed–because it might take 24 hours to figure out that the vehicle was punctured. So, when you reduce that, even just that one issue of a punctured tire, you know you’re saving four days per year.
I keep referring to the tire example because it’s something we’ve all experienced. But just imagine how many different systems the modern vehicle has and how much we can solve by automating these decisions and by digitizing access across the entire process. With fleet management and telematics integrated, we created 20-30% more supply without deploying more vehicles. I think the key is to scale up fleets and deliveries in a sustainable way–for traffic, pollution, and financially.
GB: So, you digitize the whole process for the driver? If there’s an engine issue, you can get into a new vehicle to save that downtime to keep the operation running? So, I can keep earning a wage?
AT: Yes, this will certainly enable the driver to access everything digitally, including signing up in less than two minutes. Adding your driver’s license, your commercial driver’s license, doing a background check, the entire process is digitized from walking up to a truck and doing your walk around without having to meet someone or sign a piece of paper.
With our partners like DENSO, we can even personalize it! So, when you get in the vehicle, it has the right temperature and the right music. This is where I see a lot of potential with our partners like Sony or LG. If you have to go to a logistics or a truck or car rental place, even if they pick you up, you wait in line for 15 minutes, and that’s such a sub-optimal experience. Right now, in particular, it’s also risky. I believe the world is moving to where it needs to be–whether it’s B2B or B2C–people want to walk up and access what they want and when they want it. This is what we enable.”
In the final installment of our three-part series, Aarjav discusses what the future of fleet management looks like and autonomous business models. If you missed part one, catch up here.
To learn more about how we can help automate your fleet management, contact us today.
Author: Diptii Tiiku, Senior Director of Marketing, Ridecell