Calibrating Digital Solutions to Agriculture, Construction

“As a global leader in Precision Agriculture, Trimble is committed to making technology affordable and accessible to Indian farmers so that they can grow more with lower input costs”, said Rajan Aiyer, Managing Director, Trimble India & SAARC in interaction with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Smart Cities. Excerpts below:

With you being in charge of SAARC countries for Trimble, how is agriculture and farming trends different and unique with respect to other SAARC countries? How is Trimble facilitating Indian farming with its solutions?

Every Precision Agriculture product sold by Trimble around the world, leverage the company’s unmatched leadership in positioning and communication technologies, combined with our strengths in precision sensing and actuation. We also understand that some level of customisation or localisation is necessary to cater to the unique needs of different countries, and we ensure that products are localised to serve the local needs. 

In India for example, farm sizes are relatively small, with an average size of 1.08 hectares as per 2015-16 data from the Census of India. In comparison, most other SAARC countries have much larger farm sizes. There are also huge differences in soil conditions, availability of irrigation water and types of crops grown. Therefore, Trimble’s Precision Agriculture solutions in India have been customized for its unique climatic and economic conditions. To illustrate, our internal data shows that a majority of Indian farmers use our agricultural tools on a rental basis. Many farmers thus not only own our products for their self-use but also rent it to other farmers in the same or nearby villages; which in many ways brings the benefits of Precision Agriculture to even small farmers. Such economic models are being facilitated by Trimble, in collaboration with other organizations, who will bring a pay-per-use solution to Indian farmers. 

What other initiatives is Trimble planning to adopt and implement for the benefit of farmers, in view of the PM’s Mission of doubling the farmer’s income? 

We believe that a judicious mix of structural policy-level changes and application of the right technologies to improve farm efficiencies will go a long way in achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling of farmers’ income. The promise of precision agriculture is a significant boost for farm productivity; which leads to higher crop output with lower use of water, fertilizers, seeds and other inputs.

As a global leader in Precision Agriculture, Trimble is committed to making technology affordable and accessible to Indian farmers so that they can grow more with lower input costs. To achieve this goal, our organization is working on innovative technology localization and go-to-market models. For example, we have partnered with EM3 to offer access to Trimble’s Laser Land Leveller under a pay-per-use model to the farming community. Through this partnership, thousands of small farmers in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa have benefitted from renting the Laser Land Leveller on an hourly basis. 

Please share with us how Trimble is augmenting its business through its solutions for the construction and infrastructure sector in India, SAARC? What is your observation about this Indian segment and its progress in the economy?

Trimble is a global leader in digital construction technologies, and our portfolio of hardware and software solutions are designed to optimize the entire lifecycle of a real estate project: from architectural design and planning to engineering, to fabrication and construction and finally, the ongoing operation and maintenance of an occupied building. Similarly, for a road infrastructure project, Trimble has solutions to optimize the various stages of the lifecycle: from feasibility, planning, survey, design, construction to operation & maintenance.

Using the right mix of hardware, software and mobility technologies from leading players such as Trimble help the construction industry players streamline communication, collaboration and project execution across the construction continuum. 

The Indian real estate and construction industry have evolved significantly in the past decade, and we have seen a large number of complex and challenging projects being initiated and completed in recent years. The use of technology has also evolved in tandem, and it has played a huge role in facilitating the construction of such projects, be it airports, metro rail, bridges or roads, and highways. The soon to be commissioned Chenab Bridge, the world’s highest railway bridge, has seen Trimble’s technology being applied to optimal use in the harsh and challenging natural environment. 

Trimble is an active player in the Geospatial industry. Please share with us the solutions in SAARC and Indian market scenario?

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is at the core of Trimble’s Geospatial strategy. Our leadership position in GNSS technologies brings the advantage of very accurate on-demand positioning, integrated sensors, real-time communication, field data collection software and integration with office software, to our customers that in turn helps them become much more productive and enables them to execute projects efficiently. 

Our recently introduced ‘R10’ model is a state-of-art GNSS receiver has distinct features that advances the capabilities of the land surveyors significantly. It has a HD-GNSS processing engine that provides a much more accurate assessment of error estimates than traditional GNSS processing engines especially in challenging environment/terrain, which is a huge advantage for the surveyors. It also has Trimble SurePoint™ technology for precise positioning capture and full tilt compensation, plus Trimble xFill® technology for centimetre-level positioning during outages, memory to store more than 10 years of raw observations. The Trimble R10 tracks and processes all of today's available GNSS signals and is designed to support planned GNSS signals and systems that may be launched in the future.

Trimble GNSS receivers integrate seamlessly with the full suite of Trimble survey solutions. Whether you are staking out with your optical total station or documenting the job site with the Trimble SX10 scanning total station, the world’s most innovative solution for surveying, engineering, and scanning professionals or mapping with our MX9 mobile mapping product, which is a complete field-to-finish mobile mapping solution combining state-of-the-art, advanced hardware with intuitive field software, the unique capabilities of our geospatial solutions offer an integrated workflow, and a seamless experience in field and office through our Business Center office software. This effectively means that any data collected in the field from any survey equipment can be processed and integrated in at a single point for efficient and reliable output. With the government committed to spend nearly 100 lac-crores ($1.5T) in the next 5 years on infrastructure build-out, a reliable, efficient technology solution that brings in transparency and accountability, will definitely help it achieve the ambitious goals.

Please share with us your strategies and solutions for Construction Technology in India and SAARC region.

From boots on the ground to buildings in the sky, Trimble is at the forefront of the construction industry’s digital transformation. Using constructive data and real-time collaboration, every person, phase and process work together seamlessly, optimizing the entire design, build and operate lifecycle. This is enabled by Trimble’s construction portfolio of hardware and software solutions, which has some of the finest tools for the construction industry and its key players: including architects, structural engineers, mechanical, electrical or plumbing (MEP) professionals, steel fabricators and general or concrete contractors. Our solutions are a powerful enabler for the digital transformation of India’s construction industry, enabling it to realize greater agility, efficiency, safety, and profitability.

Together with our flagship software in Tekla Structures, the world’s most versatile constructible BIM software, our products like SketchUp Pro, Vico Office and Trimble Connect offer capabilities that blend groundbreaking innovations and practical features to solve industry’s problems.

Our other innovations include Trimble XR10, which helps workers by providing precise alignment of holographic data on the job site via hard hat-mounted hardware. XR10 leverages the benefits of mixed reality in multiple areas, especially where increased safety requirements are crucial. 

Is Trimble looking to partner with Government both at the center and state level for various projects and missions?

Trimble is partnering with various agencies at both the center and the states on large projects of national importance. These include but not limited to the Survey of India (SOI), National and State remote sensing agencies, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Central Water Commission, Metro Rail corporations, Ministries of Road Transport, Urban and Rural development, Railways, and Agriculture etc. Strategically, India is one of the most important markets for Trimble worldwide and our offering includes class-leading hardware and software solutions for various industries across the geospatial, buildings and civil construction, transportation and logistics, and agriculture industries in India. We have been closely working with both central and state governments since we began our journey in the country. Trimble’s presence in India has grown manifold in this decade and today, over 10% of Trimble’s global workforce is in India. We are closely associated with various government bodies, directly or through partners in the ecosystem, for its key projects. Major infrastructure initiatives that include airports, roads, bridges, metro rail, have been fulfilled through the application of advanced technology, and this impact will only grow in the future. Trimble’s technology has played a significant role in various infrastructure projects in India, such as Chenab Railway Bridge, Chennai Metro Rail, Mumbai and Chennai Airports, Railway station redevelopment, amongst many others. 

What is Trimble’s association with rail transportation solutions? What are your views about the revolution that the Indian rail transport sector is going through?

Trimble’s rail transportation solutions are designed for optimizing rail, road and water-based transportation and logistics. In 2017, we launched our Railways focused portfolio in India, recognizing the ongoing transformation of Indian Railways in order to serve a growing population with high-speed, safe, comfortable and efficient transportation. Our Railways portfolio includes products like GEDO trolley, which allows parameters to be checked at every inch of the track before it is fixed, and has been already been used for Hyderabad and Chennai Metro Rail projects. We are working closely with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp (DFCC) and High-Speed Rail (HSR) for various solutions across the construction and operations continuum.

In 2018, Chennai Metro chose Trimble’s Nexala rail asset management solution to improve its real-time status monitoring and analytics capability by accessing up-to-date fleet status. This implementation marks the first time that a digital real-time, condition-based monitoring has been rolled out by an Indian rail operator. 

Tekla Structures has been used for design, engineering and construction of the Chenab river bridge in Kashmir, which is the highest railway bridge anywhere in the world.

Our solutions for transportation and logistics industries prioritize workers’ and end-users’ safety. For example, our asset management solution allows railways to monitor track and wagon performance on a real-time basis and get real-time diagnostics, which can not only reduce downtime, but go a long way in preventing derailments that make up more than 50 per cent of all railway accidents in India.

Please share Trimble’s plan for expansion in India.

As the global leader in technology, our goal is to play a key role in the transformation of the Indian industry as it evolves to compete more effectively and profitably; execute iconic projects that showcase India’s prowess and create more value for all key stakeholders. 

Trimble has increased its business potential in India exponentially in the past 4-5 years, and with a staff strength of nearly 1200 people spread across its offices in Chennai, Pune, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bangalore, Trimble has seen a growth of over 70% in its workforce, and the resultant investment in office space and machinery.

Our close relationships with educational institutions, research & development organizations for the introduction of advanced technologies in construction, agriculture, survey, and mapping enable us to further contribute to the Skill India initiative. As a company, Trimble invests 12% percent of its net sales on R&D, and our relentless focus on improving customer experience ensures that our customers build smarter, more accurate and more profitable projects. Besides, Trimble runs education, training and certification programs for its cutting edge tools, with the intent to build a pool of talented and industry-ready engineers and professionals who can contribute to the transformation of the Indian industry. With an ever-expanding network of training partners, Trimble is aiming to have over 10,000 industry ready professionals trained and certified by 2020.