Tech­nol­ogy for Lo­gis­tics


Cargo Talk - - Cover Story -

The grow­ing op­er­a­tional com­plex­ity and land­scape of com­pa­nies is chal­leng­ing in the con­ven­tional tenets of lo­gis­tics. Dy­nam­ics in the mar­ket place, In­ter­net and avail­abil­ity of var­i­ous IT ap­pli­ca­tions, in­fra­struc­ture and con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions have cre­ated an al­to­gether new par­a­digm for re-defin­ing the lo­gis­tics space. The need for smart lo­gis­tics and ef­fi­cient sup­ply chain man­age­ment can­not be stressed fur­ther for com­pa­nies to have a fight­ing chance to stay com­pet­i­tive. Im­prov­ing sup­ply-chain vis­i­bil­ity in any man­ner is an­other im­per­a­tive that continues to grow in im­por­tance in man­ag­ing to­day’s glob­ally in­te­grated en­ter­prises.

Ac­cord­ing to Prasad Ku­rup, Part­ner, Strat­egy & Trans­for­ma­tion at IBM Global Busi­ness Ser­vices In­dia / South Asia, lo­gis­tics in­dus­try, which has been pri­mar­ily an un­or­gan­ised and frag­mented sec­tor, has con­tin­u­ously ne­glected the ef­fec­tive use of tech­nol­ogy. This ne­glect, cou­pled with highly re­dun­dant pro­cesses, has re­sulted in process in­ef­fi­cien­cies, as­set un­der-util­i­sa­tion and lim­it­ing scal­a­bil­ity.

This is fur­ther wors­ened by the in­dus­try dy­nam­ics like pric­ing pres­sures, high costs/ low re­turns on in­vest­ments, hir­ing/re­tain­ing talent, client pres­sure to broaden ser­vice of­fer­ings, de­mand for cus­tomised so­lu­tions and value-ad­di­tions, be­sides in­fras­truc­tural

bot­tle­necks and govern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

“The ma­jor­ity of these op­er­a­tional-level is­sues (ex­clud­ing ex­ter­nal fac­tors) can be han­dled by an im­ple­men­ta­tion of tech­nol­ogy. Lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies which have adopted tech­nol­ogy. Ei­ther these sys­tems are out­dated and in­ca­pable of serv­ing the cur­rent needs; or they are iso­lated sys­tems, which have cre­ated ‘is­lands’ of in­for­ma­tion,” he pointed out.

An additional chal­lenge is that part­ners and cus­tomers per­ceive these tech­nol­ogy en­able­ments to be a part of the ba­sic ser­vice pack­age of­fered by their lo­gis­tics ser­vice part­ners, and of­ten do not want to match the same with in­creased pay­ments for these additional ser­vices.

Arvind Mehro­tra, Pres­i­dent, Asia Pa­cific at NIIT Tech­nolo­gies, main­tained that the cargo and lo­gis­tics in­dus­try in In­dia needs to be in­te­grated. Cur­rently, the in­dus­try is work­ing in isolation from tech­nol­ogy point of view. The sup­ply chain ser­vices are not end-to-end; and as a re­sult, tech­nol­ogy re­lated projects are not tak­ing shape as per ex­pec­ta­tions. There is no stan­dard­ised cargo or lo­gis­tics com­mu­nity sys­tem across the world. Ev­ery coun­try or depart­ment is fol­low­ing their own sys­tem re­sult­ing in lack of in­for­ma­tion and trans­parency about a ship­ment. “There should be a com­mon com­mu­nity sys­tem and hand­shake links

for end-to-end sup­ply chain man­age­ment. We will have to think much be­yond Air Way-Bill,” said Mehro­tra. He pointed out that presently, the man­ual sys­tem is largely prac­tised in all modes of trans­porta­tions and tech­nol­ogy used is not end-to-end. He also main­tained that cus­tomers are not con­fi­dent that they are deal­ing with a ro­bust lo­gis­tics play­ers, since they (lo­gis­tics play­ers) are

Cur­rently, the in­dus­try is work­ing in isolation from tech­nol­ogy point of view. The sup­ply chain ser­vices are not end-to-end” Arvind Mehro­tra Pres­i­dent, Asia Pa­cific, NIIT Tech­nolo­gies

depend­ing on sub-sup­pli­ers. Cur­rently, a lot of pro­cess­ing is re­quired (like seg­re­ga­tion of Mas­ter Air­way Bill and House Air­way Bill) and it is pos­si­ble only through ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies. He also main­tained that the lo­gis­tics in­dus­try is low-yield and un­der­in­vested seg­ment. How­ever, cus­tomers have to utilise lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies’ ser­vices to re­duce their costs.

Ac­cord­ing to Ajay Bhutani, CEO, Bar Code In­dia, there are two sides of the lo­gis­tics in­dus­try — or­gan­ised and un­or­gan­ised. The or­gan­ised sec­tor has been us­ing tech­nol­ogy for some time. Some of the large multi­na­tional couri­ers and their con­sol­i­dated sup­ply-chain arms have been us­ing tech­nol­ogy be­cause of their global norms. The over­all us­age in per­cent­age, com­pared to the size of the in­dus­try, is min­i­mal as of date and there is large scope of use of tech­nol­ogy to bring about ef­fi­ciency, cost-sav­ing and bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice. “As tech­nol­ogy ser­vice-providers, we have been con­stantly ed­u­cat­ing the in­dus­try to adopt tech­nol­ogy, which is now re­sult­ing in pos­tive ac­tion. Per­haps, the GST fac­tor and the fact that labour at­tri­tion rate and re­li­a­bil­ity of labour is prov­ing to be a fac­tor as well,” said Bhutani. Bar Code is wit­ness­ing en­cour­ag­ing re­sponses and grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies are de­ploy­ing these so­lu­tions across their busi­ness and look­ing to up­grade to a higher level of tech­nol­ogy or even leapfrog legacy tech­nol­ogy to adopt a higher mea­sure.

Vi­neet Mal­ho­tra, SVP- Kale Lo­gis­tics So­lu­tions, added that the freight in­dus­try, which has been tra­di­tion­ally very frag­mented, is mov­ing to­wards be­com­ing more in­te­grated. Lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies are at­tempt­ing to re­place their dis­parate and legacy sys­tems with more lat­est mul­ti­modal trans­port sys­tems to at­tain in­te­gra­tion. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in ICT are a ma­jor fac­tor in this trans­for­ma­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Parvin­der Singh, MD, Hans In­fo­matic; the cargo and lo­gis­tics in­dus­try is go­ing through mul­ti­ple chal­lenges presently. Clients are ask­ing for val­uead­di­tion and end-to-end so­lu­tions that can­not by of­fered by ma­jor­ity of In­dian com­pa­nies who are small and mid­dle-size. “To­day, sin­gle ser­vice like freight for­ward­ing or ware­hous­ing is not enough even af­ter of­fer­ing per­son­alised ser­vices.” More­over, adop­tion of ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy ser­vices can only add value to the en­tire sup­ply chain. He, how­ever, main­tained that the tech­nol­ogy ser­vices should be as per the re­quire­ment of the lo­cal in­dus­try sce­nario (like use-and-pay model).

“Tech­nol­ogy helps or­gan­ised lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies score over un­or­gan­ised ones, and will be the key to their op­er­a­tions mov­ing ahead, given the com­pe­ti­tion. With in­dus­try mar­gins un­der con­stant pres­sure and grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion, im­prov­ing op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency will be crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of lo­gis­tics firms,” pointed out

Shoummo K Acharya, Founder MD&CEO

eTrans So­lu­tions. Ini­tia­tives for the best uses CII In­sti­tute of Lo­gis­tics is host­ing “Role of Tech­nol­ogy in Lo­gis­tics and Sup­ply Chain 2014” Edi­tion II, from Fe­bru­ary 13-14, 2014 in New Delhi, which is a cross in­dus­try fo­rum bring­ing to­gether stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing cus­tomer or­gan­i­sa­tions, lo­gis­tics ser­vice

Lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies are at­tempt­ing to re­place dis­parate legacy sys­tems with lat­est mul­ti­modal trans­port sys­tems” Vi­neet Mal­ho­tra SVP, Kale Lo­gis­tics So­lu­tions

providers and tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tion providers. This con­fer­ence at­tempts to cover the tech­nol­ogy im­per­a­tives - in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness, vis­i­bil­ity, an­a­lyt­ics and op­ti­mi­sa­tion, in­ter­na­tional trends, so­cial and mo­bil­ity, and the cor­re­spond­ing im­pli­ca­tions of tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions in lo­gis­tics and sup­ply chain; which would en­able or­gan­i­sa­tions to take ju­di­cious de­ci­sions in im­prov­ing their tech­nol­ogy-ma­tu­rity in lo­gis­tics and sup­ply chain. NIIT Tech­nolo­gies en­tered into a strate­gic part­ner­ship with SATS (Sin­ga­pore Air­port Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices) to of­fer COSYS-IS. COSYS-IS is a web-based plat­form ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing real-time flight and ship­ment track­ing in­for­ma­tion. The so­lu­tion can be seam­lessly in­te­grated with lo­cal pro­cesses and reg­u­la­tions to en­able greater trans­parency and ac­cu­racy of the cargo han­dled through­out the value chain. The use of ra­dio fre­quency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags, the In­ter­net and transpon­ders on prod­uct pack­ages al­lows fac­to­ries and ware­houses to keep track of where a prod­uct is at any time. Shar­ing in­for­ma­tion through elec­tronic ( EDI) mode among for­warders, ship­pers, ter­mi­nal oper­a­tors, and cus­toms bro­kers can help stream­line the sup­ply chain and bring in greater vis­i­bil­ity and trans­parency. At a high level, tech­nol­ogy ser­vice-providers are work­ing to­wards in­te­grat­ing and in­ter­fac­ing dif­fer­ent forms of sys­tems and tech­nol­ogy ap­pli­ca­tions on a sin­gle-win­dow sys­tem.

Shar­ing in­for­ma­tion through elec­tronic (EDI) mode can help stream­line the sup­ply chain and bring in greater vis­i­bil­ity and trans­parency

Prod­ucts & Ser­vices

NIIT Tech­nolo­gies has de­vel­oped spe­cialised so­lu­tions and plat­forms for the air­line and lo­gis­tics in­dus­try. In or­der to en­able air­lines with a ro­bust and flex­i­ble cargo han­dling sys­tem, NIIT Tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped a com­plete cargo han­dling plat­form - COSYS-IS (Cargo Op­er­a­tions Sys­tem – In­tel­li­gent So­lu­tions) - that au­to­mates and sim­pli­fies the process. COSYS-IS is a proven ware­house man­age­ment sys­tem specif­i­cally de­signed for cargo ground han­dling agents and cargo car­ri­ers.

Kale Lo­gis­tics is pro­vid­ing both the en­ter­prise so­lu­tions which au­to­mate the in­ter­nal busi­ness pro­cesses of the lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies and help in im­prov­ing in­ter­nal ef­fi­cien­cies for them as well as de­vel­op­ing cargo com­mu­nity plat­forms that bring in in­dus­try level ef­fi­cien­cies and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion. “To­day, about 60 per cent of In­dia’s air cargo in­for­ma­tion flows on Kale’s sys­tems like the Air­port Cargo Man­age­ment so­lu­tion- GALAXY,” as­serted Mal­ho­tra. Kale’s ob­jec­tive is to present the global lo­gis­tics in­dus­try with a Sin­gle-Win­dow sys­tem that gives them a com­plete view of their busi­ness net­work.

Hans In­fo­matic has de­vel­oped cloud­based tech­nol­ogy ser­vices for ware­house and fleet man­age­ment, ter­mi­nal oper­a­tion and e-com­merce por­tals. The com­pany is also pro­mot­ing IATA e-freight in a big way. “We are wit­ness­ing a new breed of ware­house oper­a­tors in the coun­try, who are pri­mar­ily big land own­ers. They are build­ing mod­ern ware­houses on lease for multi­na­tional lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies.

Bar Code de­signs, de­velop and de­ploy so­lu­tions around this func­tion for all ver­ti­cals of lo­gis­tics in­dus­try. Its ma­jor fo­cus is on data collection through en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity (across plat­forms), Bar Cod­ing, En­ter­prise WLAN and RFID. They have per­haps the largest soft­ware de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity cater­ing to this niche in In­dia.

“The so­lu­tions that we pro­vide can broadly be categorised as Trac­ing and Track­ing so­lu­tions for courier, air and sur­face cargo com­pa­nies; Proof of Deliver so­lu­tions( POD) for on­line re­tail com­pa­nies and for courier, and cargo com­pa­nies; Ware­hous­ing so­lu­tions for 3PL and cargo com­pa­nies and container trac­ing and track­ing for ports,” in­formed Bhutani.

eTrans re­cently in­tro­duced in­tro­duced mo­bile apps for the se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of cor­po­rate and ser­vice-providers to track a set of ve­hi­cles/par­tic­u­lar ve­hi­cle through their mo­bile phones. The com­pany is pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to a large num­ber of In­dian bluechip cor­po­rate and large/medium/small trans­port com­pa­nies.

“We have var­ied range of prod­ucts re­gard­ing GPS and smart card for track­ing move­ment in­side the plant and out­side the plant. Our GPS so­lu­tion in­cludes vanilla track­ing, track­ing move­ment of tran­sit mixer by sens­ing rear ig­ni­tion and drum ro­ta­tion, tem­per­a­ture sen­sor, fuel sen­sor, as­set track­ing, VTS for de­liv­ery con­fir­ma­tion, Wi-fi Tracker and trailer/container tracker. With smart card track­ing we pro­vide low cost track­ing so­lu­tion for mar­ket ve­hi­cles with over 200 swipe sta­tions dis­trib­uted all over In­dia.

This ne­glect, cou­pled with highly re­dun­dant pro­cesses, has re­sulted in in­ef­fi­cien­cies, as­set un­der-util­i­sa­tion and lim­it­ing scal­a­bil­ity

Prasad Ku­rup Part­ner, Strat­egy & Trans­for­ma­tion at IBM Global Busi­ness Ser­vices In­dia /

South Asia

Arvind Mehro­tra

Pres­i­dent Asia Pa­cific at nIIT Tech­nolo­gies

Vi­neet Mal­ho­tra

SVP Kale Lo­gis­tics So­lu­tions

Parvin­der Singh

MD Hans In­fo­matic

Ajay Bhutani

CEO Bar Code In­dia

Shoummo K Acharya Founder MD & CEO-eTrans


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