TVS Logistics chalks out ambitious growth plan

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Aiming at a revenue of Rs.7000 crores by FY2020-21, TVS Logistics has chalked out an ambitious growth plan.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

Multinational third-party logistics service provider, TVS Logistics Services Ltd. (TVS LSL) has chalked out an ambitious growth plan as far as the Indian market is concerned. The company is targeting a revenue of Rs.7000 crore by FY2020-21. For the current fiscal, the company is targeting a revenue of Rs.2500 to Rs.2700 crore. While the global revenue of the company has crossed the USD-one billion mark, according to R Dinesh, Managing Director, TVS LSL, for the last five years, the Indian business has been growing at a CAGR of over 30 per cent. Carrying out a change in the organisational structure and focusing on global integration, the company is looking at cross deployment and new ways to leverage opportunities created by the implementation of GST. Annouced R Shankar, CEO of Indian operations, that they are confident of the multi-pronged strategy to achieve the goal of Rs.7000 crore by FY2020-21. R Dinesh mentioned, “We are setting our focus firmly on the India operations to achieve a strong growth. Our India business, especially post acquisition of Drive India Enterprise Solutions Ltd (DIESL), has been growing at a CAGR of over 30 per cent for the last five years. Our emphasis is on accelerating growth to reach the target of Rs.7000 crore revenue in India.”

Leveraging global expertise, TVS LSL is looking at making a difference by inculcating operational synergies to provide end-to-end solutions and value-added services to its customers in India. Seeing a growth opportunity with global customers in India, and with Indian customers globally, the company, according to Sanjive Sharma, Global CEO, Rico Logistics (a part of TVS Supply Chain Solutions), has integrated as well as converted the aftermarket (non-auto) spare parts business in a solutons model globally. “Our capabilities are unique,” averred Sharma. Implementing a Matrix structure, the company, to offer best-in-class solutions to multi-national clients in India, and to Indian clients, according to S Ravichandran, Deputy Managing Director, TVS LSL, is keen to offer unqiue value propositions to its customers.

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Unique value propositions

Present in 14 countries, TVS LSL has come to manage over 10 million sq. ft. of warehouse space in India to tap the huge growth potential the market is offering. Providing end-to-end integrated logistics services to diverse sectors, including automotive, beverage, IT, healthcare, telecom, retail, FMCG and defence, the company is forging an indispensable link between suppliers and customers. Managing over 100 blue chip customers with the support of over 15,000 skilled work force, TVS LSL has decided to move up the value chain to retain its customers and attract others. Drawing attenttion to many service providers losing five to ten per cent customers every year, Ravichandran averred, “Our ability to offer a unique value proposition is ensuring that our attrition rate is low.“ Stating that a company would need to acquire 20 per cent business to record 10 per cent growth, Ravichandran mentioned, “We have to simply grow since our attrition rate is low. The investments and acquisitions that we have made outside India during 2008, 2010 and 2011 are helping us to create unique value propositions for clients across diverse industry verticals. We are implementing more IT systems that we have got from various countries. These measures, we are confident, will lead to 100 per cent growth. They are also a reflection of how we are striving to enhance growth.”

Keen to add value through acquisitions, and through internal development, TVS LSL is paying particular attention to the supply chain. It is emphasising on a ‘logistics strategy’ in connection with the material movement. Said Ravichandran, “Once I design the strategy, I also need to design my engineering. I have to look at the requirement of warehouse and equipment. I need to design my IT. I have to ensure that the people are trained to eliminate waste. The backbone of the logistics industry is its manpower.” With close to 950 vehicles in its fleet, the company is creating its own control tower IT system. The system is claimed to present TVS LSL with the visibility and transparency to ensure things don’t go wrong. According to Ravichandran, it is a single command centre for visibility, decision taking and action based on real-time data. A ‘back-end’ that the company is trying to develop, the control tower IT system represents common processes enabled by cloud-based technologies. These include basic functions of collecting and aggregating orders, shipments, inventory, and status. “This information is linked to other enterprise systems to provide global visibility. It is then transformed to become an input for supply chain execution solutions. Rather than wait for a situation to rise, it is always good to be proactive,” quipped Ravichandran.

(L-R)_ Sanjive Sharma, Global CEO, Rico Logistics, R Dinesh, MD, S Ravichandran, Deputy MD and R Shankar, CEO, TVS Logistics Services Limited copy

GST has not changed the business prospects of TVS LSL as much. It is perhaps because the company has been in the GST mode for four-to-five years. With the check posts removed, the transit time is going down. Challenges in the supply chain on loading and un-loading continue to emerge. Mentioned Ravichandaran, “GST will contribute some amount of growth. The rest will come from the initiatives we have taken in terms of elevating the capabilities.”

Expanding customer base

The acquisition of DIESL has helped TVS LSL to expand its customer base and client profile. Before acquiring DIESL, TVS Logistics was a company that served most auto industry clients. After the acquisition, the share of auto business has come down to around 70 per cent from the earlier 95 per cent. Dominant in the South and the West, according to Ravichandran, TVS LSL has excelled in the concept of ‘single’, ‘mother’ and ‘dedicated’ warehouses. Opening the doors to the FMCG sector, the acquisition of DIESL revealed that a part of its capability enabler was a concept called the ‘distributed’ warehouse. It referred to the availability of a consolidated warehouse at each location. Strong in the Northern and the Eastern markets, DIESL has brought to the table a good deal of warehousing space. With DIESL warehouses included, TVS LSL has come to have around 10 million sq.ft. of warehousing space. Claimed to have the most warehousing space, the company has come to offer dedicated warehouse space worth 250,000 to 300,000 sq. ft. Biased towards production supply chain, TVS LSL is invading new segments.

Global Centres of Excellence

TVS LSL has formed four Centres of Excellence (COE) in the UK, US, Singapore and India. Each has its own focus area. The UK centre, for example, focuses on contract logistics. The US centre focuses on production and in-bound supply chain. The Singapore centre focuses on freight forwarding. The Indian centre focuses on global technology. Created in April 2017, the India centre is based at Madurai. It is building new-age apps. and solutions by combining Indian ingenuity with global know-how. The know-how includes track and trace, which is about providing intelligent communication to the clients.

New structure

Apart from Finance, IT and HR, TVS LSL has created a new role of integrated business heads for four major regions in India. The company will have subject experts for key sectors like automotive, technology and engineering. With India taking a lead in adopting this strategy, the company is keen to standardise a template for global roll-out, albeit in a phased manner. With a firm belief that it is the people that are the most valuable, TVS LSL is providing them opportunities to grow.

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Aim for the best

Pune-based JFK Transporters Pvt. Ltd. wants to be the best transport company in India.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Established in 1980 by Adil Kotwal, Pune-based JFK Transporters Pvt Ltd. has been growing steadily. Keen to tap new avenues like Third-party Logistics (3PL), made attractive by the implementation of GST, the company entered the transportation business with a single truck that carried Godrej cupboards from Mumbai to Delhi. In pursuit of their goal to be termed as the best transport company in India, JFK Transporters’ expanded its operations to include tractor-trailers. Over time ODC carriers also added to the company portfolio, signaling an expansion to ODC assignments. Undertaking inter-state assignments to far away places like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the company has come to build a fleet of 100 trucks. With a plan to elevate the count to 1000 trucks in the span of seven to eight years, JFK transporters conducts operations in 15 cities across the country. The Indian Bank Association (IBA) approved company has come to have a network spanning across the globe, albeit through the Avaind Logistics business vertical.

Serving clients like Reliance Industries, Piaggio, Chevron, Linde, Hindalco, Castrol and Petronas among others, JFK Transporters, according to the Chief Executive Officer Jehaan Kotwal, is into the transport of lubricants and petroleum products among others. With stress on quality over quantity, the company, mentions Jehaan, would rather opt for a Rs.500 crore business turnover with a 20 per cent margin than a Rs.1000 crore turnover with a comparatively lower (10 per cent) margin. Driving a change, Jehaan is empowering the drivers of his trucks with a belief that it is they who will help him achieve the growth that he envisages. “My sensitivity towards the driver community comes from my father,” mentioned Jehaan. He expressed that it is the driver who is the most neglected in the country today. Keen to offer the best service, JFK Transporters is constantly on the lookout for innovative transport solutions, and the need to offer tailor-made solutions. Foraying into e-commerce last year, the company has come to offer last mile transportation service for cargo weighing over five kilograms and up to 1.5-tonne.

Niche service provider

With exposure to diverse industrial commodities like cement, power, steel and sugar, JFK Transporters is keen to turn into a niche service provider. It has structured its business into verticals like road transport, freight forwarding and clearing (CHA), air transport, warehousing, packaging, etc. With attention to present a positive Business-to-Customer (B2C) logistics experience, the company under the road transport vertical, indulges in project cargo transport, Customised Investment Logistics (C.I.L), first and last mile transport solutions, and door-to-door service. Withdrawing from last mile transportation very recently, and because of deteriorating margins, except for a select few customers, JFK Transporters, in addition to ODC carriers, has container trucks and tankers at the core of its fleet.

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Claimed to hold the record for the largest Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) consignment transported out of Pune, according to Jehaan, the company has to its credit over 100 projects. Carrying out complete transportation for one of the largest cement factories in Madhya Pradesh of Reliance Industries, JFK Transporters, averred Jehaan, is ranked as one of the best ODC transporters in the country. With no effort spared to out perform, the company, filling the void with the C.I.L is focusing on a strong understanding of the customer needs. C.I.L, stated Jehaan, is focusing upon understanding the needs of the clients, and offer an optimum solution. Customisation of the vehicle is carried out to suit the client need. Technology, trained labour and trucks designed for the purpose are integrated. They provide a seamless experience, opined Jehaan.

The focus, in the case of door-to-door service, is on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC). Cargo of diverse nature is exported globally, and with emphasis on reducing the bottlenecks. Introduced to cater to the company’s primary clients who were on a lookout for an end-to-end solution for their cargo needs the world over, freight forwarding, said Jehaan, has been rewarding. The projects carried out under this head include handling shipments, irrespective of their size and nature. Hazardous substances, and perishable items needing refrigeration, or liquid bulk shipments for example. Customs clearance services ensure a seamless process for the client.

Avaind Logistics

With offices at Nigadi and Chakan in Pune, and at Hyderabad, Avaind Logistics commenced operations in 2010. As an international freight forwarding arm of JFK Transporters, it is helping the company to control costs over its peers that rely on third party logistics. With a client base comprising of ThyssenKrupp, Thermax, Sandvik Asia, Reliance Cement and Gulf Cement Co., Avaind Logistics offers speedy, safe and smooth transit. Shorter lead times and greater convenience is backed by competitive freight pricing and flexible shipping schedules. Offering value added services like document transfer, order follow-up, and temporary warehousing, Avaind Logistics has at its disposal well-maintained and well-equipped open trucks and trailers fit for long-haulage. These trucks are equipped with GPS technology that offers not just real-time tracking, but also driver metrics. Performance gauging is made easy. With flat-bed trailers of up to 80 feet length, low-bed trailers with a ground clearance as low as 1.5 ft., drop-bed trailers, and high-capacity pullers or prime movers capable of towing loads up to 200 metric-tonne available, handling prestigious projects, including the export of capital machinery and equipment for 3,000 TPD Clinker Grinding Machine, were successfully carried out. Known to provide optimum services in break bulk movement and containerised cargo, the company successfully executed an export assignment to Jebel Ali for Gulf Cement Corporation.

Tailored solutions

JFK Transporters started a new initiative last year, that of providing truck mounted cranes. This was born out the need to support a Godrej project where the use of conventional trailers led to material damage. Mentioned Jehaan, that conventional trailers were leading to material damage due to dropping. The truck mounted crane facilitated a safe pick-up and stack. Over time, the truck mounted cranes have come to find many uses. The JFK Transporters fleet has come to include three-to-five truck mounted cranes. A new project at Bihar is expected to take the number to 10 crane trucks. Announced Jehaan, that they are among the first few transport companies to have increased its Turn Around Time (TAT). This is in addition to achieving optimal reduction in cargo damages, he said. To boost the lube business, the company procured BharatBenz trucks with 28 ft. length. These have a rated payload of 21-tonne. Training customers to secure their load, Jehaan expressed, “customers should get the benefit of working with us.” Employing innovative approaches for last mile movement, include lighter vehicles, longer-body, truck bed-side covers, and container heights tailored to the project requirement, JFK Transporters is adhering to the practice of merging with other companies on common routes as per the client requirement. Drivers are supplied with mobile handsets.

Operating with an attached fleet of 100 to 150 trucks (own fleet amounts to 100 trucks, and makes up roughly 50 per cent of the total fleet strength), JFK Transporters, according to Jehaan, has a strong back-end system available. It is subject to partners providing a minimum business guarantee. Reaching the count of 100 trucks over the last three years from 10 trucks, the company is targeting 1000 trucks and 1000 drivers over the next seven to eight years. The tanker count of the company accounts to 10. The trucks dedicated to the transport of lubes account for 40 numbers. The rest of the fleet comprises of tractor trailers.

Global practices

Linking growth with global best practices, Jehaan is of the opinion that there is a long way to go yet. He mentioned, “Be it the driver wages, or the cost of trucks, India is way behind its global counterparts.” Drawing attention to the disparity in cost of building infrastructure versus the cost of labour and commodities, Jehaan said, “The cost of building per kilometre of road is high in comparison to the quantum of driver wages and the truck costs.” Confident of reducing up to three per cent of the costs incurred by going digital, Jehaan averred, “there is a need to make everything digital. Especially the Point of Deposit (PoD) system.” Terming the credit cycle in India severely inflated, Jehaan stated, “if freight cost went down, the GDP could be significantly boosted.” Stressing upon the need to use technology like GPS to track driving practices and not just optimise the route, Jehaan quipped, “There is a need to widen the insurance cover of the driver community, which is a dismal 0.1 per cent.” Stating that the drivers of his company were paid 20 per cent more than the industry standards, Jehaan drew attention to drivers being paid USD 10,000 to 15,000 in many global markets. “This is inclusive of insurances, “ he added. If the higher pay-scales has helped JFK Transporters to tide over the issue of driver shortage, Jehaan is well aware of the change the CVs in India are going through. He is quick to comment, that foreign entrants like Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) are forcing homegrown players to change. He pointed at Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles as well. In the interest of safety, Jehaan called upon manufacturers to offer airbags, ABS and other such features as standard.

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Future Outlook

Using third-party businesses to outsource elements of the company’s distribution and fulfillment services in logistics and supply chain, JFK Transporters is keen to tap projects that require professional transporters. Calling for a need to elevate safety, Jehaan is confident of his company carving out a larger pie of the lubes, petroleum and gas transportation business. Keen to leverage its long experience in addressing the changing needs of the clients, JFK Transporters is looking upon GST as a means to change the vision. It will, said Jehaan, present a huge opportunity to professional players. Of the opinion that fly-by-night operators will find it difficult, Jehaan explained, “Sustaining driver quality and assuring the availability of well trained drivers will continue to be a challenge. Transporters will have to change the way they have been operating.” As we seek new ways to grow, concluded Jehaan, we will realise our mission of becoming the best transport company in this country.

The Azadpur agri-supply chain

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Claimed to be Asia’s biggest agri-market, the Azadpur Mandi (agri-market) on the outskirts of Delhi is backed by an efficient supply chain.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

Sunil Jaiswal has clocked good speeds to reach the Azadpur Mandi (agri-market) on the outskirts of Delhi. He is tense as the truck he has piloted from Himachal Pradesh is loaded with 11-tonnes of Apples. They have a limited shelf life, and are expensive. At the wheel of his Ashok Leyland Comet Gold, Jaiswal has reached the Mandi at one past midnight. He is looking tired. Negotiating a long queue of trucks entering what is claimed to be the biggest agricultural-produce market in Asia, Jaiswal has reached the market during the peak season for apples. Like him, there are numerous others that have ferried apples to the Mandi. Even in the dead of the night, it does not take long to understand that the fruit is in demand. With hopes high for a good price, trucks laden with apples are lining up in the Mandi for a quick deal. It is a continuous activity as more and more trucks continue to pour in. Their headlamps cut through the darkness.

Claimed to have an estimated flow of 5000-8000 trucks per day, the Azadpur Mandi on the outskirts of Delhi comes to life as the capital city goes to sleep. Reflecting a supply chain that is well oiled and fairly efficient, the flow of trucks across the market, spread over 80 acres, is simply humongous. Trucks of varied sizes find their way to the agri-market. From a tiny Tata Ace to a heavy 31-tonne rigid truck, and an occasional tractor-trailer, there’s a large count of trucks that bring fruits, vegetables, onions and potatoes, spices, food grains, and more from across the country. Imported agri-produce also finds its way to the market. If trucks laden with apples seem to crowd the market, there are trucks that have ferried pineapples and many other fruits too. A 15-tonne truck moves past. It is laden with onions. As it reverses into the slot, labourers like an army of ants begin unloading of the produce. A chat with the truck driver reveals that he has come all the way from Nashik. It has taken him two days to reach here. With onions having a limited shelf life, it is essential that they be ferried to the market within the shortest time possible. Two drivers have taken turns to pilot this truck in order to reach in time. The disappearance of border checks has made it easy and more efficient to travel. Avers the driver that he regularly ferries onions in his truck to this market. The trade, he mentions, is pre-negotiated by the consignee and the trader. His job is to simply ferry the goods. Apart from a large number of labourers, the people that make the Azadpur Mandi tick are the security men, administration staff, traders, labourers, drivers, and many others.

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A market of national importance, the Azadpur Mandi clocks up to 23,000 transactions per day according to the market sources. The market witnesses a peak season between July and December. The most traded, claim sources are apples. These, they mention, come from Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh. Grapes, pomegranates and bananas come from Maharashtra; Pineapples and ginger come from Nagaland and West Bengal. Having a limited shelf life, especially spinach and other leafy vegetables, the supply chain that connects with the Azadpur Mandi is about speed and efficiency. Lighter and faster trucks of 3.5-tonne are preferred to ferry vegetables from the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Where the need to keep moving is important, two drivers take turns to ensure an uninterrupted journey.

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Ferrying potatoes from Uttar Pradesh (UP) in a 37-tonne rigid truck, Ramprasad mentions that the disappearance of border checks has made it easier to clock good times. Infrastructure at many places has improved, he quips. Including potatoes, a total of 118 commodities are traded at the Azadpur APMC market. These include over 50 varieties of fruits, and over 68 vegetable varieties. State sources that over 60 per cent of apples produced in Jammu and Kashmir are traded here. The lean season is from January to June, and has up to 5000 trucks finding their way to this market every day. With fruits like Mango and Lithchi finding their way to the market regularly from UP and Bihar respectively during the lean season, the amount of combined fruits and vegetables inflow during the last fiscal was a massive 47.7 metric tonnes. This was led by apples at 5.89 metric tonnes. Divided into four blocks – A, B, C, and D, the Azadpur Mandi houses a total of 1366 shops. Operating without a break, the most activity happens between midnight and early morning. Of late, the market, reveals a source, has witnessed some fluctuation in trade as agri-producing regions were hit by natural calamities like floods and drought. This affected the supply chain as trucks ferrying the agri-produce could not reach the market in time. States a trader that they are hoping for a good bumper crop. Drawing attention to less inflow of mangoes, he expresses that the inflow of apples looks good this year.

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The flow

The flood situation in Bihar has reduced the amount of trucks ferrying agri-produce from that region. Such calamities have an effect on the business mentions a trader. A trucker who has ferried potatoes from UP mentions that his business has slowed down. It has been some time and he has not been able to travel to Bihar to ferry agri-produce from there to this market. Stressing upon the need to ferry the produce in the least possible time given the tendency to perish, situations like these, he avers, make it very risky and difficult to do business. With many commodities seasonal in nature, calamities have a hard hitting effect. Happy to have received 11-tonnes of apples in a Tata 1613, a trader at the Azadpur Mandi is also worried at the same time. A consignment of pomegranates from Solapur is delayed. It is now well over two days that it takes for it to arrive. Heavy rains in transit are said to have caused the delay. It needs to be seen if rains have caused any adverse damage to the goods.

Not many shops away, an agent is off-loading a consignment of apples from a Tata 2416 truck. They have come from Himachal Pradesh with the journey extending over one day and two nights. Of the 24-tonne worth of produce, 20-tonnes will soon find its way to a trader at Mumbai. The rest of the produce has been purchased by a local vendor Amritesh. He has hired two Tata Ace and a Mahindra Maxxitruck to ferry the produce to his location at Janakpuri in Delhi. An hour later, Amritesh strikes another deal. This time with another trader for the purchase of pomegranates. He quickly hires four labourers for Rs.200 each to load seven-tonnes worth of pomegranates in the truck that he has hired. It is 5 am, and Amritesh rides the truck to his place. He will sell a part of what he has produced across a few retail outlets he has come to own. He also supplies his produce to a hotel and a hospital in his locality.

From Jalandhar, a SML Isuzu Sartaj has ferried nine-tonnes of potatoes. The farmer has accompanied the produce and is keen to strike a deal quickly. Visiting the market a little over once in four weeks, the farmer set out for the market approximately 10 hours ago. Not far from here, a 22-tonne Ashok Leyland truck has travelled from Tamil Nadu. It has ferried pineapples. The trader is happy as the truck has arrived ahead of schedule. He signals his subordinate to get the truck to back up into the unloading bay. Soon a flurry of activity is witnessed as labourers start unloading the pineapples. States the driver of the truck in halting Hindi that it has taken him a little over three days and nights to arrive here. In less than an hour, the trader has struck a deal with a smaller trader. In no time, a Piaggio Ape and Tata Ace line up. They are loaded with pineapples, which will be supplied to the smaller markets across the national capital.

With 16-tonnes worth of potatoes being sold off in a few hours after arriving at the market, it is a game of demand-supply states a commission agent. It is demand that dictates the price. If the demand is less, it can take longer to sell. The amount of risk is directly proportional. Over the years we’ve learnt to judge the extend of risks involved, and accordingly conduct the trade mentions an agent. As the day breaks, the amount of activity reduces. It does not halt however. During the day, trucks carrying food grains and spices find their way to the market. Refrigerated trucks are seen coming into the market. Explains a trader that such trucks transport highly perishable goods like peas, which cannot withstand heat. The demand for refrigerated trucks increases in the summer months. Refrigerated trucks are used to ferry agri-produce that has been imported, or is exported. The call for quality makes it essential to use such trucks. The demand for refrigerated trucks is said to go down conversely during the winter months.

To ensure supply chain efficiency, the Azadpur market, mentions a source, has invested in seven cold storages. Traders dealing in various commodities that require temperature controlled environment use these. Imported apples, grapes, and pears call for an amount of care. To store these, traders often use the cold storage facilities the market body has invested in. These fruits are imported from Thailand, California, China among other places says a source.

Organised trading

Set up with an aim of facilitate the marketing of Fruits & Vegetables (F&V), and to implement a regulation that will safeguard the interest of farmers, producers, sellers and consumers in the country, the Azadpur Mandi operates under the Delhi Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act, 1998 (Delhi Act No. 7 of 1999) and Delhi Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) General Rules 2000. The market was established in 1975 by Delhi Development Authority, and maintained by it till December 01, 1979. Thereafter it is operated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). The APMC set up a New Fruit Mandi (NFM), and divided the principal yard into three parts (New SubziMandi (NSM), Cement Godown Area and New Fruit Mandi (NFM)).

The Kela siding is part of a land which has been taken on lease from Indian Railways to conduct the trade of bananas, oranges and mangoes. Commodities here are transported in railway wagons from many places in India. Issuing licenses in 1976 for shops in various blocks to trade legally, a fee of one per cent is charged by the APMC on the total sale value of the commodity. On the basis of the arrival of commodity and revenue paid to the government, the shopkeepers have been allotted ‘phars’. Each ‘phar’ handles commodities in lieu with the market fees paid by them, reveals a source. Since bulk quantities are traded, the number of trucks that arrive every day is proving to be far more than the space available to conduct the trade. Compared to the earlier times, the flow of trucks has increased. Traffic jams and bottlenecks are increasingly becoming a regular happening at the market. Thankfully, says a source, commodities like papita and chickoo do not take large spaces to trade. Their quantity is as big as some other fruits. The commission agents charge up to six per cent of the trade. Farmers supplying their produce to the market have to operate through them. The number of licensed commission agents is said to be close to 2100.

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Okhla sub-yard

The Azadpur APMC also operates a sub-yard at Okhla. It is spread over an area of 10 acres, and includes 50 big and 218 small shops. Over 118 commodities are traded here. There are 191 commission agents. Serving largely as a local market in South Delhi, the sub-yard is said to source commodities directly from regions like Haryana and UP. The quantity of vegetables traded at the yard is more than the fruits, claims an agent. Established in 1987 by DDA, the sub-yard was later handed over to the APMC to operate. Witnessing the arrival of over 47 metric tonnes of commodities every year on an average, the Azadpur Mandi and Okhla sub-yard continue to successfully conduct business. Given the nature of commodities, waste disposal is a challenge. It does happen that the produce gets spoilt, states an agent. It is part of the risk of doing business.

To dispose spoilt produce is a challenge, he mentions. Putting the amount to less than one per cent of what is traded, the source avers that it is a cumbersome task to dispose the waste. Backhoe loaders have been provided for the task. Insists an APMC source that the market is cleaned every evening. A major clean up takes place every Sunday, they say, as the market stays closed. Only small vegetable trades are conducted on Sundays. With over 8000 trucks finding their way to the Azadpur Mandi every day during peak season, it results in humonguous operations. In the absence of an efficient supply chain that is majorly made up of trucks of various types, the agri-market would not be what it is. Deploying 250 people in association with the traffic police to manage the traffic inside the market premises, the APMC, according to a source, is taking various measures to facilitate a better buying and selling experience for all those involved. It is 5 pm, and the market is not at its peak for certain. Activity however is visible as trucks laden with food grains and spices continue to roll into the market. This market never sleeps, avers a source. He quips that neither does the arrival and departure of trucks cease ever.

SmartShift expands operations

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SmartShift, a Mahindra Group venture, has expanded its operation to Chennai.

Team CV

A digital start-up from the Mahindra Group, SmartShift has launched its operations in Chennai. It is the fifth city that marks the entry of the company. Signalling an expansion of operations, the start up company operates in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Working towards elevating the efficiency in the last mile transport space, SmartShift is acting as a platform for cargo owners and transporters to work with each other, smoothly and flawlessly.

Ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship for both, the cargo owners and transporters, SmartShift is an intra-city digital load exchange platform. Enabling efficient transportation from one point to the other, SmartShift was developed to empower consignees (both businesses and individual users) to avail of an efficient service. They can access SmartShift service through an Android-based mobile app. They can also access SmartShift through a website, or the dedicated call centre. The key differentiator that SmartShift brings to the last mile transport logistics space is the ‘reverse bidding’ feature. The app. successfully emulates the bargaining process between consignees and transporters. It allows them to close the deal at a mutually acceptable price.

In 21 months since launch, SmartShift has emerged as the leading industry player in Mumbai and Hyderabad. It is gaining unprecedented traction in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, claim industry sources. Said to have become a preferred choice for over 16,000 stakeholders, clocking over 1500 transactions per day approximately, SmartShift is looking at the next phase. It is looking to achieve an ambitious milestone of creating a community of one-million stakeholders over the next three years. Kausalya Nandakumar, CEO, SmartShift, at the launch of SmartShift in Chennai, said, “We are delighted to enter the state of Tamil Nadu by launching our operations in one of its largest cities, Chennai. The city is in many ways a gateway to a state that has the largest SCV penetration. Tamil Nadu is a mature market with a strong industrial base. We believe this market has both the need and digital presence to adopt a transport aggregator model like ours. We are confident of driving exponential value in this market.”

With the logistics industry in India pegged at USD 130 billion according to a report, 35 per cent to 40 per cent of it is said to be in the intra-city space. It is expected that 18 lakh small commercial vehicles will carry out millions of transactions everyday, and across the country. “Going ahead we will not only focus on enabling improved business productivity for our customers but also nurture customer relationships, moving beyond mere transactional business,” mentioned Nandakumar.

Offering transparent pricing, and an efficient simple one-click booking process with the ability to track cargo after dispatch, SmartShift, claim industry sources, is already turning out to be a significant player. Citing the knowledge advantage SmartShift could profit from as part of the Mahindra Group, which has a stake in the Indian CV space, and an understanding of the ecosystem, sources opine that an amount of dynamic agility is expected of the company. As the first intrapreneurial start-up incubated within the Mahindra Group, SmartShift combines the process, governance and discipline of a large mature business with the tenacity, nimbleness and fierce competitiveness of a start-up. As a young company SmartShift is said to be strongly leveraging the multi-disciplinary mentorship of the Mahindra Group. It is also said to be leveraging the access to 150 Mahindra Group companies, working as a seamless logistics solution partner.

The unique SmartShift service allows consignees to book a vehicle in less than three minutes; negotiate the best price through a unique first of its kind ‘bidding’ feature. The service also enables the consignees to choose from a range of certified and trained SmartShifters. It enables the consignees to track the selected SmartShifter and ensure that the consignment is delivered safely and securely. Allowing cargo transporters to enjoy more business through faster and easier order receiving technology, SmartShift is making life easier for transporters and fleets. To avail of more business, it is also providing the option to accept or decline a delivery request based on pricing, or the availability of vehicles. Transporters also get an opportunity to explore and expand to other markets; to look forward to a higher earning potential.

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Aiming to expand to 29 cities with 70 per cent of the SCV base in the country, the near-term plan of SmartShift is to cover metro cities. The company is currently following a well charted road map, which includes an expansion to Pune, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Delhi NCR. Looking at turning the daily logistics requirements of SMEs at least 30 per cent more efficient, SmartShift, for transporters, is providing a first in the industry feature of phone integration and efficient pricing through return trips. With focus on community building, SmartShift is said to look at disrupting the present inefficient ecosystem. Driven by an ambitious goal of owning cargo transportation in the country, SmartShift currently services more than 1000 pin codes in four cities.

Apollo LogiSolutions for one stop solution

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Apollo LogiSolutions is keen to play a role of one stop solution in logistics.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

Logistical needs in India are on the rise. The proliferation of ecommerce is one of the factors among many others that is providing much thrust. Logistics however has a long way to go in India. In a country like India, the linking of logistics industry’s growth with infrastructure should not come as a surprise. The two complement each other like no other. With much scope for road conditions in the country to improve, it is only logical for logistics solution providers to look at addressing the often conflicting needs of their customers, in doing so lies their ability to create a niche for themselves. Keen to play the role of one stop solution, and serve customised solutions, Apollo LogiSolutions (ALS) is bullish about growth. Avers PSS Prasad, President, ALS, that his company is not a mere transporter. “We are into transportation in a very selective way for end-to-end solutions,” he adds. Stressing upon providing CFS, freight forwarding and custom brokerage services, the company, according to Prasad, is looking at creating a niche for itself through a gamut of services that support quicker and healthier growth. With analysts expecting third party logistics to grow by over 20 per cent till 2018, Prasad is right about creating a niche. He comments, “There is good potential in the logistics market, which remains to a good extent unorganised. There’s much opportunity waiting to be tapped.”

End to end solutions

ALS was established in 2009 at Gurgaon, and is a subsidiary of the Raaja Kanwar-led Apollo International Ltd. In a short span of time, the company spread its wings far and wide. Taking on the challenge to provide end-to-end logistics services on the back of its multi-modal capabilities, ALS operates through three verticals. Offering services like CFS, ICD, custom brokerage, freight forwarding, and contract logistics to various companies from diversified sectors under its 3PL business structure, the company is planning to increase its fleet size to 250 trucks in the next six months. Mentions Prasad, “We have patented truck bodies for specialised movement of Hero two wheelers. As of current, 220 trucks have been entrusted with the task.” Keen to move up to 250 trucks in six months by increasing the container capacity by 20 per cent against the standard containers used by others in the industry, without flouting the road safety norms, ALS, by early next year, is looking at growing its fleet to 300 numbers already. “Whereever there is a dry port, we believe in buying the trailers. Depending upon the location we also work with third party operators as well to boost the logistics business pan-India,” explains Prasad.

For regional support, ALS works with two operators. Centrally, up to four operators stay committed to ALS operations informs Prasad. Also undertaking reverse logistics assignments for companies like Samsung, ITC, and Asian Paints, the company, as a 3PL player, offers warehousing services. “Our warehousing services include various services like kitting, labeling, and even specialised operations like fitting a tyre on to the rim of a two wheeler,” avers Prasad. To allow its customers to work on lean inventories, ALS picks up rims from the factory in China and tyres from Vietnam for the Hero Group. After procuring them, ALS gets them custom cleared in India. The two are assembled at the ALS warehouse before being supplied to the Hero factory. ALS, says Prasad, has 50 warehouses the world over. Of these, 35 warehouses are in India. Of the opinion that it is important to expand strategically, Prasad draws attention to ALS’ joint venture with a German logistics player Fiege.

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ALS-Fiege JV

The ALS-Fiege JV was established in 2012. The resultant company, Apollo Fiege Integrated Logistics, focuses on generic business of freight forwarding through air and ocean along with secured short-term storage for valuables in transit, and customs brokerage where the company will assist customers to interface with the customs department during shipment imports or exports as per various classifications, contract logistics and transportation services. Touching upon Fiege bringing with it 140 years of industry experience, Prasad avers that Apollo Fiege Integrated service platform is outfitted with operational expertise and solution capabilities across the entire logistics spectrum catering to freight forwarding, customs clearance, projects and other 3PL logistics requirements through its vast global network. “Enabling us to access the latest technology in logistics, the participation of Fiege also brings with it the advantage of having a presence in 70 countries, and across 200 locations,” says Prasad. Under its asset heavy business, the company has got four dry ports out out of which the one in Panvel is directly owned by the flagship company. For strengthening its presence in Sourthern India, ALS acquired Chennai based logistics company, Kailash Shipping Services, in 2013. ALS has also strengthened its capabilities in handling export-import containers, refrigerated cargo and warehousing. States Prasad, “We also have two dry ports in Tuticorin and Katupalli respectively.” “We are awaiting approvals to commence operations,” he adds. For 3PL logistics and freight forwarding services, ALS acquired a controlling stake in a firm called Freight Reach with presence in the Middle East and Africa. “With most of the automobile manufacturers including Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland exporting to Africa, it made sense to expand our reach,” expresses Prasad.

Staying ahead

Applying good deal of emphasis on technology to stay ahead, ALS, according to Prasad, is driving its end-to-end logistics solution business with the help of its joint venture with Lycos. As a technology company, Lycos allows ALS to help its clients with end-to-end logistics solutions in the area of ecommerce especially. Opines Prasad, that in the logistics business, it is more or less similar as far as operations are concerned. What makes a difference is technology. With Lycos on board, ALS is helping global brands to deploy e-commerce platforms that target Indian customers. ALS clients include 612 league and Kyo creations. “Anybody who wants to get on the ecommerce bandwagon, we can hook its operation in a day’s time. This capability of our will indirectly help us with our logistics side of the business. It is no surprise that we would like to be their logistics partner as well,” stated Prasad. For increasing reach in dry port services, ALS acquired Wifin Technologies in 2016. The company has also partnered with CargoWise for freight forwarding. This, says Prasad, is allowing us to develop mobile apps like Mobizee, Billijee, and Purplepatch for ecommerce logistics.

For an improved ecosystem

With increasing radialisation and better roads, Prasad feels that the hub and spoke model in India will gain momentum soon. As the length of the vehicle is increasing, improvement in highways in many parts of India has also reduced time in transit and costs for the cargo movement, he points out. This Prasad opines will get a boost once GST gets fully implemented which may lead to 30-40 per cent fall in frieght times and up to 30 per cent reduction in logistics costs. “Transportation under GST will make more sense as monitoring of the truck at every stage will be much easier. It will also reduce inventories to large extent which will benefit the economy in the long run,” said Prasad. He feels substantial results might not arrive soon as there might be a dip, but things will gradually improve. “It may not affect the cost which we have to see in the long run. But if you are using a good infrastructure you have to pay for it,” stressed Prasad.

Startups and Automation

Highlighting transparency and lack of will as a serious issue in logistics, Prasad points out that real time access to information on goods movement aids building of trust between the company and the clients. “A large part of cargo is still transported by road as it happens to be cheaper than railways. Any reduction in manpower dependence is beneficial,” he states. Mentioning that CFS needs 20 approvals, Prasad opines that there is a need for a single window clearance system. Prasad draws attention to the fact that the logistics industry has its aspects coming under ministries. This, he avers, leads to inefficiencies. With startups in logistics sector coming up and vanishing like wild mushrooms, Prasad is of the opinion that large flow of funds is spoiling startups, and calls for building up of a sustainable business model. Terming the constant change in taxation structure as detrimental to the growth of the logistics industry, Prasad calls for better channeling of forex reserves for faster development

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Moving forward

ALS recorded a revenue of Rs.800 crore in FY2016-17. By 2020, the company aims to quadruple it. This, it plans to achieve through organic and inorganic growth. Setting aside Rs.200 crore for acquisitions, the company, according to Prasad, has been growing at a CAGR of 50 per cent for the last few years. With thrust to continue on exim services and freight forwarding, the company is keen to enter the area of cold chain. Avers Prasad, “Cold chain is one area that we are thinking of.” “Without full fledged transport support it is not going to be helpful though,” he adds. Having a cold storage setup at Panvel for select goods that require temperature controlled containers, the company, concludes Prasad, will require to ramp up cold chain infrastructure, which would call for an amount of investment in the future.”

Fish lorry

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Trucks have been transporting fish the world over. What makes it unique is how they ensure that the catch remains fresh until it reaches the market.

Story & photos by: Ashish Bhatia

The ‘Koli’ (fishermen and fisher women) community dotting the seafronts of Mumbai are arguably the originally inhabitants of what where once seven different islands of Mumbai (Bombay). Over 7000 ‘Koli’ families stay at Versova (Vesave). Many have turned to jobs after educating themselves in modern streams. A good deal are however practicing their traditional profession of fishing. Some 30 fishing boats bring a large catch of fish to the Versova jetty, making it one of the major distribution hubs. Trucks built for the purpose ferry fish to various retail markets in Mumbai and Ratnagiri. The beauty of these trucks lies in their construction. For, fish is highly perishable unless stored at freezing temperatures and transported swiftly.

Unlike the air-conditioned container trucks that are used to ferry fish in the advanced markets, the trucks that are used to ferry fish from Versova are different. They are owned by the very ‘Kolis’ that often own the fishing boats as well. A tightly woven community that has specailised in fishing over the generations is as passionate even today. They know their work well, and do what it takes. Entrusting the task of building superstructures of their trucks to local body builders like Rajmal and Jain, the kolis are well aware of what they want. The body builders too are well aware of the requirements of these folks. They are also aware of the trucks the kolis buy.

Buying trucks for the trade

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Crates of fish stacked between a film of crushed ice makes for an amount of load. They also call for ample cargo space. So, when Vijay Sathi decided to buy a truck to transport fish, he gave preference to a Tata 608. The year was 1992, and Vijay was taking to the business to get away from boarding a fishing vessel and explore the high seas. His earlier endeavours had helped him earn enough to buy a truck. He was encouraged by other community members who were already into the transportation of fish. Certain of the potential to earn well, he bought Tata 608 cab chassis for Rs. 4.8 lakh. Aware that the container body would define the payload, Vijay turned to a body builder in the fishing town of Vasai to the north of Mumbai. It cost him Rs. 1.35 lakh to get a container body built on the Tata 608 cab chassis. Today, it costs Rs. 2.75 lakh to build a container body avers Vijay. “A majority of transporters procure ready to fit carriers that are procured and assembled at Taloja by body builders like Antony Auto Coach Builders,” he announces. “Stress is on adequate space for the container body superstructure to carry as much crates of fish,” adds Vijay. Pointing at his new stead, a Tata 709, Vijay avers, “Each crate contains 30kg of fish depending on the species and size. A transporter earns Rs.80.” If Vijay is to be believed, much importance is given to the technical specifications of the truck. The engine, the clutch, the brakes, cabin comfort, and more.

In the case of Vijay’s truck, there’s a door and a staircase built into the left side of the superstructure. It facilitates easy access to the cargo hold area states Vijay. The superstructure, made of composite material for good sealing is not exactly the kind where fish is loaded from the rear and the cargo hold area is air-conditioned to preserve the quality. The superstructure of Vijay’s lorry, like the other fish lorries found at Versova, is non-airconditioned. Crushed ice is forced into each crate that does the job of keeping the temperature low. Speed of transport is crucial. The staircase and a bench inside facilitates partial loading and unloading of the cargo.

The Tata 709 is not the only truck that Vijay owns. His enterprise, Gorai Tempo, operates three trucks including a Mahindra Maxx pik-up. Mentions Vijay that his company’s turnover is Rs.12 lakh per annum. Claims Vijay who has been in this business for 23 years that he achieved success on the basis of his dedication and perseverance.

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The secret of success

The absence of an air-conditioner brings down cost, it also makes for more cargo space. Fish from Versova is transported to as far as Navi Mumbai, and takes one and a half hour to reach there. The non-air conditioned way of transporting fish helps, claims Vijay. He avers that they use a secret agent in the form of a special salt. Sprinkled on the fish, this salt ensures longevity. This is done at the local warehouse – a cold storage facility. Fish is stashed in plastic containers (crates) and covered with a thick layer of locally produced ice. The loaded crates, when it is time to transport them, are stashed on to the truck. Claims Vijay that stringent quality checks are carried out, both at the start and at the end of the journey. How this is done he does not reveal. Instead, he says that this is what determines his remuneration. If any deterioration in quality is observed, the remuneration takes a hit. This can happen when the truck gets stuck in a traffic jam, or breaks down. Explains Vijay, “For short distances we don’t face problems. In case we have to travel long distances, we halt to replace the ice.”

Rising operational costs

Transporting fish is crucial to the success of the business. Fry and fingerlings are transported from hatchery to pond for stocking. Brood fish are sometimes transported into the hatchery to spawn. Many methods of transporting fish have been developed, including the transportation of live harvested fish to the market. It is surprising therefore, that despite the risks associated with the nature of their cargo and its ability to perish, Vijay and other fish transporters of Versova are not in a hurry to upgrade to advanced transporting technologies. Neither is looking for a reefer truck! Nor are they keen to acquire oxygen cylinders. “Our priority is to keep the operating costs under check,” avers Appu, who gives business to transporters like Vijay. Vijay explains, “Our affinity for Tata trucks over others stems from the confidence of carrying out basic repairs ourselves in case of a breakdown.” He quips that other brands have also begun finding acceptance with them, subject to addressing their requirement. Stopping short of mentioning that they opt for dandy trucks that sustain their tendency to overload, given the nature of their cargo, Vijay states that it is the new crop of sub five-tonne trucks that are currently attracting their attention. “A longer cargo tray assures higher payload carrying capacity, and is the most motivating factor,” says Vijay. He adds, “Trucks like the Eicher Pro 1049 (sub five-tonne) stand a good chance.”

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Staying in the business

Keeping operational costs in check has become a crucial part of success for Vijay and his fellow fish transporters at Versova. On a new truck chassis, the operator, instead of mounting a new body opts to mount a refurbished body, states Vijay. This costs much less, he adds. A new body costs upwards of Rs.2.5 lakhs. Also, the rise in diesel prices over the last few years has pushed many fish lorry operators to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) claims Vijay. Many are increasingly wary of buying a new vehicle. Unique to these fish transporters is their preference for a manual clutch and a powerful engine. Failure or a break down is the last thing that we would want, says Vijay. “It can cost us as much as Rs.40-50,000. This makes us very careful in what we select. We are not particularly fond with anything that is automatic or electronic in nature,” he adds. Trucks with such systems, feels Vijay, are liable to have high operating costs. It gets a little difficult to understand when Vijay mentions that a manual clutch operation ensures optimal power. He states, “It provides us some room to overload.” It is a similar story when it comes to air brakes. Explains Vijay, that air brakes allow for a strong bite and quick retardation, and even when the truck is overloaded. The rigidity of a non-assisted steering, he mentions, enables better manoeuvrability. In the case of tyres, the fish transporters prefer 8.25 size as it supports higher load carrying capacity. “It also raises the height of the vehicle which isn’t a dead giveaway of the load at the time of checks by authorities,” beams Vijay. He concludes, “Apart from an acute business sense, the volatile nature of the business is safeguarded by government tax exemptions us ‘Kolis’ enjoy.”

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