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View from India: Joining the dots digitally in supply chains and logistics

In the Indian scenario, the supply chain and logistics industry are increasingly becoming digitally connected and hence smarter. Digitisation of the supply chain and logistics industry is essential, as it helps in balancing costs and increasing productivity.

Verticals are increasingly digitising the supply chain for a number of reasons, including the drive to standardise the products and scale up the quality in order to tap new markets at a global level.

“When the supply chain is digitised, data is hosted on the cloud. This data allows you to look at predictive analytics and build artificial intelligence (AI) to inspect the various parameters in the supply chain. It also offers an insight into customer buying patterns and the productivity of logistics,” said Kailash Sharma, VP customer satisfaction and quality GSC CS&Q, global supply chain, Schneider Electric, speaking at Pro-Econ, a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on innovative procurement and supply chain.

A digitised approach towards supply-chain management helps in building a healthy supply relationship management with partners in the long run. Online purchasing along with a digitised supply chain gives visibility to the process.

“We have built development centres for some companies in the US and they wanted to see what was happening at their factories in India. This led us on, until we arrived at Eco Struxure or the Schneider Model for Smart Factories,” Sharma explaiend. Eco Struxure is an IoT-enabled, plug-and-play, open, interoperable architecture and platform, in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries.

It’s important for companies to connect to customers digitally, as customer-centricity will be the focal point by 2020. The digital processes offer an insight into the customer profile, along with delivery related details like lead time, packaging and damage.

As for other verticals like the healthcare sector, it operates on historical consumption based on planning. “In the healthcare industry, supply chain apps help several processes. For instance, digitisation helps to remotely monitor the health of the machines used in the operation theatre. Apps send out alerts beforehand,” reasoned Sojwal Vora, vice president and group head, supply chain and procurement, Manipal Hospitals.

There are other dimensions to the supply chain. For instance, the buyer would want to increase productivity and reduce risks. In the ever-changing world of business, the customer outlook is changing. It becomes imperative for the buyer-supplier to go that extra mile to work together. Concern areas include forecasting, without which the supply chain cannot address short notice requirements. Forecasting and prior planning can happen through tech solutions like big data and analytics. Technology is essential for facilitating several procedures like product delivery, which happens through better managed inventory. Mobile alerts, web-based solutions and portals are other means of scaling up processes along the supply chain.

Chai Point, a leading organised Chai tea retailer has leveraged technology to solve the issues of accessibility and convenience when it comes to the smooth functioning of the supply chain. The result is that it has evolved as a technology-based beverage pioneer.

“We used statistical machine-based tools to plan the food requirements. Our teams have used algorithms to figure out where the demand comes,” said Amuleek Singh Bijral, founder, Chai Point. “Our business is mostly discovered on the mobile. Consequently, the expectation of selling means fulfillment will happen online. This was reason enough for us to become an omni-channel business.”

The team at Chai Point has conceptualised platforms that are used in-house, such as the cloud-based platform ‘Shark’ that allows for fast and seamless integration of billing and tracking across all Chai Point outlets, through mobile payment and Wi-Fi based setups. The software integrates warehouse and suppliers with the point-of-sale devices (POS) so that future demand can be predicted. This also enables real-time monitoring of the performance of a retail outlet in any region or location.

Then there’s BoxC.in, which is supposed to be India’s first cloud-based beverages service platform. BoxC.in is intelligent, connected and powered by IoT-enabled freshly brewed tea and coffee dispensers.

Supply-chain management itself has given rise to many innovative solutions. Verticals are beginning to think out of the box and arrive at intelligent solutions that help the chain remain agile, while the supplier maps to the customer digitally.

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