View from India: Well defined logistics

The logistics industry in India is on the cusp of a digital revolution, enabled by mobile technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud services.

Digitisation of the industry is essential for logistics companies to work smart and think intelligently. Better efficiency and productivity are required because although the industry is large, with an estimated value of $250bn, almost 90 per cent of it is unorganised and highly fragmented.

“Statistics indicate that 13 per cent of India’s GDP is spent on the logistics industry. Yet, since over one million transport companies are involved in the logistics industry it becomes imperative for digital intervention to join the dots along the connectivity chain,” said Apurva Mankad, CEO of LogiCloud, a Mumbai-based company which organised its first webinar at the weekend. LogiCloud is a platform for manufacturers and retailers to leverage next-generation logistics technology and improve their supply chain many-fold.

Tech tools: essential for successful supply chain management

Widespread acceptance and application of mobile technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud services help scale efficiencies along the supply chain management (SCM). This has also led to the rise of third-party logistics (3PL) providers who are creating tech tools for better outcomes in SCM.

As per 2016 trends, mobile devices are being integrated with app-based services, since mobiles are fast becoming the preferred means of communication. “As of now, around 900 million people use mobile phones in India and this number is expected to grow to about 5,000 over the next three years,” highlighted Mankad. Smartphone apps, multimedia messages and voice-based text messages and alerts will provide companies and vehicle personnel connectivity to the supply chain. Supply chain mobility devices and apps help execute processes.

IoT connects people, processes and data through sensors and in an intelligent manner. IoT sensors are used to offer standardised way of sending out data. When we look at the logistics ecosystem, IoT facilitates transit visibility and thereby lowers fuel costs.

Computing on the cloud helps track products and their transactional movement. So it means that it helps cut down on cargo loss. Everyone involved in the supply chain is connected through the cloud, to that extent there’s both accessibility and transparency in SCM.

Industry-specific challenges

Logistics is at the forefront of generating data about every form of transport, be it road, air, railways or ships. What is common to all these forms of transport is real-time delivery. But then the base level of people in the supply chain is the segment which lacks the digital know-how. Consequently the data which is supposed to come from the supply chain to offer updates on cargo movement is sparse or inaccurate.

Aggregation of data for end-to-end visibility is required for companies to control and monitor their goods as they move along the supply chain.

For instance, a company that makes ice creams would be concerned about its stocks moving from one destination to another using road transport during the summer months. Such anxiety can be put to rest with proof of delivery collated through a suite of analytical tools and tech solutions.

Let’s look at ship cargo, wherein some of the crucial parameters that come to mind are temperature-sensitive cargo and high-value cargo. In case of the former, it becomes important to take into account the weather conditions and time taken for delivery. In case of the latter, the focus is on monitoring its movement for safety against thefts. 

LogiCloud systems have been built on the foundation of Microsoft Azure, telematics and the latest mobile technology. “LogiCloud is a multi-stakeholder cloud platform that connects the enterprise to the supply chain. Our system reads location data streams from over 10 GPS hardware providers, giving you real-time visibility of your shipments as well as historical data on a map interface. At the same time, the data is stored in silos to ensure confidentiality of every client,” explained Mankad.

The company is all set to present a cash transaction tracker, which will reduce workload by replacing human follow-ups with auto alerts meant for clients and parties who have to pay them.

The top companies and transport staff are two ends of the logistics industry. Linking both ends is a challenge. A time has come when logistics companies need to leverage technology in order to offer visibility and accountability across both ends of the spectrum. IoT, stream analytics and high-definition insight along with cloud help offer scalable solutions for the logistics industry.

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