Rhenus Logistics India is looking at palletisation of cargo beyond warehouses, and in transportation.
Palletisation is at the heart of seamless connectivity between retailers, distributors, manufacturers, farmers, and transportation and logistics service providers across the spectrum. Faster turnaround time not only translates into operational cost benefits, it also helps to secure loads by way of unitisation. This in-turn ensures damage and pilferage free transit. Clearly, palletisation can make or break a deal. Given the sensitivity of logistics, the nucleus of an effective palletised supply chain is a humble little pallet. It is a piece of equipment that facilitates mechanical handling of stacked (palletised) goods for forklift trucks to quickly transport. Commanding high level of global acceptance and put to use by Global logistical giants, adoption of palletisation in India is claimed to be at a nascent stage. This, despite knowing the fact that handling pallet systems effectively can improve efficiencies and economies. Just a handful of logistics companies in India endorse palletisation. Even fewer look at deploying it beyond warehousing. Mumbai-based Rhenus Logistics India Pvt. Ltd. (RLIPL), a joint venture between Rhenus Group of Germany, and the Arya family from India, is looking at palletisation of cargo to transportation.
Palletisation in transportation
Rhenus India currently has 25000 pallet positions across its warehouses in India. In a bid to acquire new customers who could reap the benefits of this technology, the company is working towards deploying custom built curtain palletised trucks. According to Vivek Arya, Managing Director, RLIPL, the endeavour is largely dependent on the customer. “All our warehousing operations are palletised. Transportation in palletised form however is solely the discretion of the customer; it would impact his cost and bring about a major saving,” he added. Yet to turn into a volume-oriented business, testimony to RLIPL’s belief that palletised cargo transportation will pick up are the double decker curtain palletised trailers acquired by the company. Expressed Arya, “We partner with our customers closely not just at an operational level, but also at a tactical level. It is of prime importance therefore to understand the customers’ requirement and accordingly offer innovative, customised solutions to address their needs.” Designed for a quicker turnaround time, the curtain pallatised double-decker trailer trucks will be driven by a Tata LPS 4018 prime mover with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 40-tonnes.
Payload requirement and operating conditions dictate palletisation
Rather than mention the investment towards procuring the curtain palletised trailers, or the number of such trailers procured, Arya stressed on how his company has worked upon the combination of palletised trailers and the prime mover. Even in terms of payload requirements, operating conditions and maintenance. The reason behind choosing a Tata prime mover was familiarity said Arya. Aware that palletisation is beneficial in terms of quick assembly, handling, sorting, storing and transporting of goods as a unit load, the trailers have been custom built to be able to carry a total capacity of 32 pallets. These would be distributed across 32 cages (1.2m x 1.2m x 1.6m) each. Placed in a 40-feet trailer, the sides of the trailer are covered with curtains made of Sioen brand of printable Acrylic lacquered fabric imported from Belgium. Claimed to be capable of carrying 24-tonnes, distributed across two decks, the company, according to Arya, has taken due care to meet customer requirements. Claimed Arya that a detailed study was carried out before closing in on the dimensions of the palletised trucks. “We studied customer trends, the type and movement of their products. We approached a few OEMs and fabricators to discuss the design. The design was finalised only after consulting a few engineering institutes and the Regional Transport Offices (RTO’s),” he averred. The dimension regulations set by the authorities had an influence on the design of the truck.
Pan-India roll out
Taking care that the palletised trailers have open sides to enable loading and unloading, Rhenus, Arya mentioned, has benefited considerably from the exercise. A good deal of time is saved. The pallets will be handled by fork-lifts, and thus do away with the need for manual labour. Claimed Arya, that a truck can be loaded or unloaded in 30 minutes flat! The palletised trailers are currently being used to transport petro-chemical products in packed form. They are being used by large Multi-National Companies (MNCs) across Western India. Encouraged by the use of palletised trucks by MNCs in western India, Rhenus is looking at a pan-India roll out. Said Arya, “Palletisation is not in vogue in India. It would grow once the advantages of unitisation of load are evident. One of the reasons could also be reverse logistics. These would have a direct bearing on the total cost. Pointing at GST as a crucial legislation for palletisation to strike a chord with Indian logistics companies, Arya expressed that GST would most likely standardise taxation rates across the country. “If this happens, corporations would move away from the practice of having warehouses in different states. They will instead embrace each state’s tax code, enabling them to manage their distribution and supply chain efficiently. Expected to bring process standardisation and lay the foundation for mechanisation and establishment of specifications for interfaces, Arya opined, “In Europe, there is a standard size defined for a Euro pallet which helps to enhance efficiency and save costs.” “India is expected to follow suit,” he concluded.