Home Interactions An exclusive interview with Dr. Ashish Agarwal, Co-Founder & CTO of WRMS

An exclusive interview with Dr. Ashish Agarwal, Co-Founder & CTO of WRMS

by Food Drinks Innovation

During a privileged discussion with Dr. Ashish Agarwal, Co-Founder & CTO of WRMS, he elaborates on the company’s mission and goals, sheds light on the current challenges faced by the Indian Dairy sector, and discusses the technological advancements made in the industry.

Describe your company, its mission and goal?

Gurugram-based WRMS (Weather Risk Management Services) is a climate and dairy risk management company founded in 2004. The company endeavours to empower farmers to overcome the most daunting agrarian challenges by leveraging data, technology, and financial innovation. WRMS provides a range of tech-driven input advisory services to farmers to enable higher yields, backing it with guaranteed purchase of their produce. The company is working upon breakthroughs that can make the agriculture and dairy sector more robust.

Ingen Technologies Private Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of WRMS, manufactures, supplies, installs and operates advanced IoTs like Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), Automatic Rain Gauge Systems (ARG), Soil Moisture Sensors, Drones, Automatic Pest Sensors, SecuLock, SecuTrak, and more.

WRMS has worked with esteemed clients like PepsiCo, Safal, ITC, Mother Dairy, etc., along with government and govt-run bodies like NCFC, Bihar Government, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, Andhra Pradesh State Development Planning Society, and more. Apart from this, it has also partnered time and again with multilateral agencies such as Work Bank Group, UNCDF, and insurance bodies like ICICI Lombard, HDFC, Ergo, to name a few.

With a team of 500+ multi-disciplinary experts across Agricultural Science, Data Science, Meteorology, Actuarial Science and Information Technology, the company is on a mission to revolutionize the farming sector by allowing farmers to dive into the world of latest technology without worrying about the risks involved as the company offers them 360 degree income protection.

What do you think are the challenges the Indian Dairy sector is witnessing presently?

India is the world’s largest milk producer, contributing a whopping 19 percent of the global production. According to the Animal Husbandry Statistics Division, Government of India, the dairy sector churned over 198 million tones of milk in 2019-20. Even though India is the largest producer of milk in the world, the industry itself is largely unorganized, with only 18-20 percent of the total milk produced being channelized in an organized manner.

The livestock industry contributes almost 4 percent to India’s GDP, with the dairy sector making up the majority. It is thus surprising that this sector is largely unorganized. As a growing economy, India has seen rapid development in recent years and the dairy industry, in particular, needs to be brought into focus. The sector as it is at present faces several challenges such as unavailability of nutritious fodder, poor milk storage facilities, pilferage & adulteration during transit, and lack of education to name a few. As per WHO, 87% of citizens will be suffering from serious diseases like cancer by the year 2025 if adulteration of milk and milk products is not checked immediately. Most of the adulteration happens during milk transportation from MCC to the Milk Processing Plant because of the inferior existing mechanical lock seals and GSM-based locks.

Thus, to deal with various challenges faced by the Dairy sector, Ingen Technologies, a fully owned subsidiary of WRMS, launched SecuLock, a state-of-the-art indigenously manufactured smart e-lock developed for live monitoring and prevention of theft & pilferage, especially in milk tankers. SecuLock is a foolproof solution to manage theft and pilferage that amounts to a huge loss every year due to the unavailability of potential preventive measures or devices. SecuLock has the potential to bring revolutionary changes in the dairy industry and helps dairy partners procure and distribute dairy products the most healthily and securely as possible.

How do you see technological advancements made in the Indian Dairy sector?

In the past few years, the Indian dairy industry has received a tremendous boost through technology-driven products, services and solutions. Nowadays, farmers no longer spend hours hand milking each cow one by one, thanks to the advent of the relevant technologies, which have drastically changed the functioning of Indian farms and dairies. Over the last few decades, such advancements in technology have allowed dairy farmers to improve the everyday quality of life of their herds as well.
According to the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the capacity created by private dairies in the last 20 years is more than the capacity set up by the cooperatives in over 30 years. It’s all because of the advanced high-tech setups in private farms. This indicates that development is proportionate to tech adoption.

There has been tremendous growth through technology in the dairy sector, and with modern technological tools, there is more scope for development in the future. Even though the adoption of new technology and digitalization has been slow in the sector; it is gradually permeating the sector, resulting in its growth. With Dairytech and Agritech start-ups entering the space and bridging the gaps in cattle management and the supply chain; the scenario is changing. The future of the Indian dairy sector appears bright; as digitalization is expected to usher in a new era of growth.

What is SecuLock and what are the USPs of SecuLock?

SecuLock is a smart tamper-proof smart E-Lock developed by Ingen Technologies for live monitoring and prevention of theft & pilferage, especially in milk tankers. This Smart-E Lock system includes an electronic door-locking device, a central server, a mobile application, and control devices. The pre-installed tracking device captures and transmits location data to a central server for en-route theft and pilferage prevention and monitoring. The memory stores location data and locking/unlocking data. SecuLock and all its components are not physically accessible and thus, can’t be tampered with. Light sensors are also installed on the device to detect if the lock was activated during the dispatch of the vehicle. The device can only be operated through an OTP-enabled login, thus, only a designated officer can access the lock. It also offers real-time tracking of vehicles through a GPS tracking system along with alerts to identify any route deviation and unauthorized stoppage during the journey.

Please throw light on how adulteration and pilferage of the dairy product can be prevented through SecuLock?

According to a report by the Indian Express, almost 70% of milk sold in India is “adulterated,” as it does not match the standards laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Normally the adulteration is done either for financial gain or lack of proper hygienic conditions of processing, storage, transportation, and marketing. Amongst all, most of the adulteration happens when the milk is in transit.

SecuLock emerges as a robust solution to combat the alarming rise in adulteration and pilferage of dairy products, especially during transportation from Milk Collection Centers (MCC) to Milk Processing Plants. The prevailing issues with mechanical locks, such as vulnerability to key duplication and challenges in identifying culprits due to physical key exchanges, and GSM-based locks susceptible to tampering, necessitate a more secure approach. SecuLock addresses these concerns by introducing a tamper-proof Smart E-Lock solution featuring OTP-enabled locks, physically inaccessible components, and sensor-based assembly.

In operation, SecuLock offers online, offline, and emergency modes. In the online mode, the hardware verifies commands from the server through GPRS communication, logging details such as mobile phone information, GPS coordinates, and timestamps for every operation. In the offline mode, the hardware can operate the lock without server verification, storing operation details locally and transmitting them to the server when the network becomes available. This mode proves useful in areas with weak network connectivity or during internet blockages. In emergency mode, the hardware checks the OTP received from the app with locally stored OTPs, ensuring secure operation even without network connectivity. Details of emergency mode operations are logged for subsequent verification.

This comprehensive approach not only ensures the security of dairy product transportation but also provides a traceable and verifiable record of every operation. By leveraging advanced technology and secure communication channels, SecuLock minimizes the risk of adulteration and pilferage, contributing significantly to the prevention of serious health issues linked to contaminated milk and milk products. The integration of SecuLock stands as a crucial step towards safeguarding public health and the integrity of the dairy supply chain.

SecuLock is a revolutionary product that can also be leveraged by diverse industries like dairy, cargo, courier, and companies handling the transport of bulk goods from one point to another with high chances of on-road theft and adulteration.

How is your product different from the products available in the market? Explain.

● SecuLock and all its components are not physically accessible and, thus can’t be tampered with. In other locks, Mechanical assembly is visible from outside to transporters, drivers and other stakeholders. Thus, these locks can be tampered with (by cutting the rods, hinges and other components).
● SecuLock has a Sensor assembly like a light sensor to detect if the lock was activated during the dispatch of the vehicle. It is impossible to detect if other locks were not activated during the dispatch of tankers.
● SecuLock ensures that all interactions are carried out exclusively through OTP-enabled logins, restricting access to only designated officers. The OTP can be modified at any time to address organizational concerns. In contrast, alternative locks necessitate the replacement of both locks and keys in scenarios such as key loss, diminished trust in officers, personnel departure, or changes in officer departments.
● In case of misuse, SecuLock offers all logs on the server which can be accessed instantly for audit and investigation. With other locks, it is difficult to identify the officer involved among many officers in case of misuse.

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