Prakash Asphaltings & Toll Highway (India) Ltd is a leading construction company that boasts of successful projects in Central India. With main focus on construction of roads and bridges, the company is known for reliable, quality and efficient construction processes. Nipun Agrawal, Director, PATH Ltd in conversation with TrafficInfraTech’s Mangala Chandran
Path Ltd is a pioneer in the infrastructure construction space, especially in Central India with decades of experience. Starting with EPC, BOT, & PPP model, you are now into Hybrid annuity model. How has the evolution been?
PATH had started as a small construction company primarily working on EPC model. Then we ventured into the toll collection space which gave us very good exposure of the entire highway value chain. Equipped with the experience of construction and toll operations, we sensed the opportunity in OMT projects. Since then, we have been a leader in OMT space with about seven OMT projects at one point of time, which was about 45% of the total NHAI OMT projects. We have also won and are operating two BOT projects in consortium with Oriental Structural Engineers. We have done more than 25 highway construction projects over a period of 25 years worth more than Rs,5000 crores and our current asset under management is worth more than Rs. 9000 crore.
Currently we have won three HAM projects in consortium with Adani Enterprises and one HAM project independently for PATH.
We have done a lot of innovations in the construction and also proposed the new toll plaza design after mandate of ETC, which reduces the land requirements by 1/3rd and will save thousands of crores for the nation in land acquisition costs.
Over a period of 25 years, we have seen almost all the facets of the industry and have earned a reputation for doing quality work in given timelines. We have learned a lot and continue to learn every day.
What are the important greenfield projects you are handling now?
We have won the Harda Temagaon section of 30 KM of NH-47, on HAM model, which has approximately 19km of highway and a Railway Over Bridge as a greenfield stretch.
Also, we have aggressively moved forward into the Wayside amenities projects designed by NHAI. We have won seven packages which are all greenfield projects on major national highway such as Jhansi – Baran section of NH-27, Jhansi – Orai section of NH-25 and Eastern Peripheral Expressway NE-2.
Wayside amenities projects are going to be an important part of our portfolio. We are also looking at venturing into real estate and hospitality sectors as well.
What are your toll management solutions? How beneficial is Toll Data Analytics System? Considering the rapid developments in the toll collection technology, how are you poised to meet the challenges?
We had developed our Toll Management Solution about eight years back and since then we have never looked back. Today our solution is counted among the top toll management systems in India. We have also designed and developed most of the hardware in house such as Weigh In Motion systems, AVC and Controller cards, which are refined over a period of time and are manufactured locally by our manufacturing partners.
Our toll management system is enabled and integrated with latest technologies including the FASTag ETC system, QR code based payments, credit / Debit Card payments. The ETC (FASTag) system is well integrated with all major acquiring banks and works out of the box as a plug and play system.
Also, we are proud to claim that PATH was the only vendor to complete deployment of Hybrid ETC system in 90 lanes of 15 toll plazas within 90 days for IHMCL back in 2018 and now we are the second vendor to implement the ICD 2.5 across all our toll plazas in 2021.
The Central Toll Data Analytic system developed by us gets the traffic and revenue data from all our toll plazas and provides us a single window for accessing the entire data. The system has multitude of well designed dashboards, graphs and reports to provide valuable insights about the revenue, traffic and TC performance. It is also capable of integrating with other toll systems and ERP / CRM systems. We have integrated this with our ERP solution, which gets the toll revenue data for accounting, directly from this central toll data analytic system.
We, at PATH, use this system very actively to track and manage our revenue and also relay on this system to prepare for the bidding of projects.
In terms of new technologies for free flow and GPS based tolling, we feel that we are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this new development. Although, we also feel that there will be some legislative changes required before implementing the free flow GPS based tolling in India.
You have an Innovation vertical for Technology. What are the applications for technology like AI image processing solutions.
We have developed a new AI AVC system called PIR, based on Image processing and recognition algorithms which has been crucial to overcome the challenges faced by conventional AVC using infrared sensors.
PIR is an advance AI software which is trained over thousands of images of vehicles in Indian toll plazas. This system simply takes two images of each vehicle from front and side rear and process these images to identify the vehicle class. The system has a very small footprint with no infrared sensors and has only two CCTV cameras which are already available in toll lanes. The system is smart and can be trained for specific site for getting greater accuracy in real world scenarios.
It has counting accuracy of 99% and classification accuracy of up to 97% in real world scenarios.
Also, using our strength in image processing, we have been developing some interesting pilot projects such as luggage trolley detection and parked vehicle detection etc.
Can you talk about PATH Ltd‘s solution for Parking Management ?
If you think about it, parking management systems are not very different from toll management systems. Parking is like an entry-exit toll system, which is called Closed Loop Tolling systems. The only basic difference between the two is the fare structure. The toll systems has fare structure based on the distance, where as the parking has the fare structure based on the time. So it was a natural extension for our Toll Management systems to be evolved to cater to the Parking industry.
The parking solutions are also integrated with FASTag and provides parking level and slot level availability, parking guidance systems, app based payment and many more features.
You have also introduced crash barriers…
PATH has become the pioneer in crash testing and manufacturing of crash barriers in India, in compliance with EN1317 part-2. We are able to provide entire Crash barrier solution under one roof, right from design, testing, manufacturing up to supply and installation.
We have collaborated with Alka Turkey and have exclusive rights for manufacturing their beam crash barrier in India within an ISO 9000 certified facility.
Today we have production capacity of about 1500 MT per month with 500000 Mtrs of MBCB already supplied and installed on multiple projects across India.
The entire process of crash barrier design, testing, manufacturing, supplying and installation is implemented and controlled by our ERP solution, ensuring quality and efficiency throughout the value chain.