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Issue of February 2007

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Wireless & Mobile enablement

Sumul deploys wireless handhelds

Satyen Naik

Satyen Naik, Manager-IT, Sumul (Surat District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited) was facing the challenge of streamlining and improving Sumul’s business processes and decision-making performance. Sumul developed and installed an Animal Information System (AIS), which keeps track of transactions related to cattle and their well-being that may contribute to augmenting milk production and solving business problems. Veterinary doctors can operate through their respective handhelds.

The Livestock Trade

Naik states, “We tag a unique ID to each animal. Once the tagging is over we feed the information in our database.” The data collected includes household information followed by the history of the animal and details such as milk procurement details statistics, and health information. The collection of information is done by doctors on their routes.

The objective

The organisation needed accurate information regarding animal health and milk produced by individual animals along with health records. Naik says,

“The primary objective of the project was to ensure that milk production forecasts could be made as well as to procure more milk from each animal. To maintain consistent disease-free zones and milk production, we must have the correct historical data of the cattle.” The project is expected to be fully operational by December 2007.

Automating information

The handheld is loaded with Herdman software which is operated by veterinary doctors to maintain records. When a vet attends a sick animal, he refers to the history of that particular animal and accordingly prescribes suitable treatment. The doctor then enters his prescription and medical data in his palmtop.

Using GPRS, the handheld connects to a central database. The data is stored in the AIS. It also helps the organisation maintain an inventory of the medicine based on demand and need. The AIS is also connected to the Geographical Information System (GIS ) which in turn is connected to Sumul’s central Oracle database. Sumul can now predict any major disease outbreak and analyse milk procurement statistics better and faster.

The handhelds used are from Toshiba (Intel PXA 261-300 MHz with 64 MB RAM). The database on the handheld is Microsoft Access. Sumul decided to procure the Herdman software from vendors since it sufficed various cattle management criteria. Installation, deployment, implementation and training were done in-house by Sumul.

  • They have expanded the activity to the grassroots level; field workers use handheld devices to collect information.
  • They have linked the database to the GIS application so that top management can use it as a decision support system.
  • They have adopted an innovative approach of knowing the DNA of the animal, where you have to put a drop of the animal's blood on the machine which is connected to a PC. This gives the entire genetic details of that animal and it gets uploaded to a database over the Net. An expert consultant studies the report and gives inputs about how the yield of milk from that animal can be raised.
  • Doctors employed and villages covered have increased five fold.


Sumul decided to slowly familiarise and train the doctors on using Windows. The training starts with data entry and gradually promoted to handheld navigation and operation.

Benefits and ROI

The immediate benefits observed by Sumul were inventory management and control of medicine. Post-AIS implementation, Sumul will be able to generate many MIS reports precisely based on statistics and defined parameters. These include parameters such as travelling details, cost involved per case, cost per doctor, revenue income and expenditures, total number of cases handled periodically and frequency of critical cases. Sumul decided that ROI to be measured on parameters such as reduction in vehicle usage in kilometres, control on disease, precise forecast of milk procurement and accuracy of the doctor’s decision.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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