Adding brains to wheels

Samip Desai,
Dynamic Director,
Moba Mobile Automation (India).



Construction Times speaks to Samip Desai, the dynamic director of Moba Mobile Automation (India) on why both OEMs and end users need to take automation seriously

MOBA Mobile Automation AG is an established name in mobile automation for more than 40 years with expertise in the development and production of machine control systems, identification, mobile weighing technology, waste disposal and flexible software solutions customised for giants in the global construction arena like Caterpillar, Volvo, Dynapac, Bomag, Vögele, Ammann, and Ruthmann.


How does the business scenario look to you?

The going has been good this year. We are mainly focusing on OEMs, and OEMs are doing quite good. This was a good year and we expect good growth next year.


Tell us something about your product lines?

We deal mainly with mobile automation or what are called ‘moving machines’ in different fields like road construction, agriculture and mining. We also provide solutions for municipal vehicles engaged in solid waste management, and liquid waste management along with fleet tracking systems.


Can you throw some light on your products launched at BC India?

We have recently launched fuel level monitoring system. So fuel management system. So when we talk to most of our contractors and we ask them about their main concerns, they always come up with the issue of fuel theft and pilferage on job sites. So there are lot of operators and drivers who tend to take fuel from the tank and sell it in the market. People estimate they waste around 5-10% project costing in fuel. So this is what it is hitting them hard and they want to somehow control it. you can retrofit our sensors on the tanks and it will give you accurate level within 1 litre accuracy and it already has alarms that update you on fuel theft, refuelling, and pilferage. The system allows you to understand where and how the theft is happening and with time and location of the theft. We have customised web reports and web solutions that allow you to keep a tab on 100-200 vehicles, which is not as doable if you attempt to check each vehicle manually. The monitoring supervisor will only get an update when there is a theft involved, and this helps him focus on vehicles that are problematic. So, if out of 100, 5 or 6 vehicles are problematic, the supervisor will get accurate information that helps him identify and solve the problem. Also, the next-level supervisor or owner of the company will get notifications that inform him that there were say 6 or 7 reported fuel problems or theft alerts out of which 5 have been solved and 2 have been found to be guilty. So, even this report will go to the superior or owner. These systems can be customised to cater to the specific needs of each customer.


So your buyers are not OEMs?

In the case of systems I just described, it will not be the OEMs but of course it can be OEMs as well because if an OEM is planning to sell a fleet of 10 compactors and he can offer our fuel level monitoring system as an add-on, it can be worked out. The buyer can also buy the system from us. Both the options are open. However, we do primarily target end users.


Tell us something about your growth trajectory in the last 3 years?

We grew by 25% last year. We again aim at 20-25 % growth in the next year but it all depends on election results. We have almost 100% market in many fields. For instance, in mining we have a system, which we supply to all OEMs. For paving we have asphalt level internally supplied to all OEMs. So if they grow, we will also grow with them.


Who are the major competitors in the market with products similar to yours?

There is a company called Trimble. It is our competitor. They have some good products. However, they are way too expensive for our market, and the cost cannot be justified. We localise a lot of our components like cables and brackets, so we are always 20-30% cheaper than them with the same quality and the same features.


How to you ensure that the ecosystem is kept informed of your innovations?

We conduct workshops every year for OEM service engineers and also visit their factory and attend their sales and service meetings where we train their entire staff. We also equip them with certain components, which helps them to be effective on the site. This is how we transfer entire service knowledge through the OEM to the customer. Of course, if there is something they cannot solve, we dispatch support from our offices. We also do this for end-users. We give them direct support.


How is this direct support provided to end users?

We train operators on preventive maintenance and how to use the system. But these are German components and you fit and forget. So until and unless they meet with an accident or cut wires and cables only then does it call for support from our end. Mostly, you turn the machine on and it works smoothly as it has always done.


Do you provide certificates to personnel trained by you?

For OEMs, we have started issuing certificates. We conduct training in the classroom as well as practical examination. Trainees answer questions that are evaluated and scores are given. Those who make the grade are awarded certificates.


How do you promote this product?

Mostly, word of mouth communication. Our contractors and end users get to know about our products through OEMs. We send newsletters to OEMs and most engineers working there are closely networked. On Facebook, we have an online community and our own page. It is all based on networking.


Is there something you would like to tell end users and OEMs beyond the ground we have already covered during this interview?

Both OEMs and end users should not take automation systems as a cost addition but as indispensible value addition. They can get more out of their machines if they introduce more efficiency through automation electronics, and this efficiency making monitoring effective and cuts costs too.


So, it should be taken as value addition and not as cost addition….

Indeed. It is a value addition and not cost addition. When OEMs machine with our additions, the price goes up. Competitors may not be offering such a system and may therefore offer a cheaper product. So the end user will not know what value he is

getting. It is therefore important for OEMs to educate their end users on how adding automation systems add value to the overall process. It is important they understand that using automation helps you get your job right in the first go instead of doing

your job in a manual and haphazard

manner, which involves a greater expenditure of cost and time. Nowadays, project deadlines

are getting shorter. There are projects where you get bonus if you complete the project earlier. So contractors with good vision have

compelling reasons to invest in such systems so they can claim the bonus. That I believe is the approach that should be taken.

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