Article by: Anirudh Raheja

Specialising in over dimensional cargo movement, cargo and solution management, Procam Logistics is planning a Rs. 10 crore capex in FY16.

Specialising in the domain of heavy and over dimensional cargo movement, cargo and solution management for projects apart from conducting global freight management through multi-modal logistics, Delhi-based Procam Logistics will be adding 32 hydraulic axles and three wind turbine blade trailers to its portfolio with a capex of Rs.10 crore in FY16 in anticipation to the reviving market. Having grown at a CAGR of 20 per cent over the last five years, the company caters to industrial sectors like automotive and railways, oil and gas, power, energy, steel and infrastructure. Investing close to Rs. 25 crore, Procam Logistics owns 88 hydraulic axles (24 are of Goldhofer make and the rest are from Vishwakarma hydraulics), three 54 m long hydraulic wind turbine blade trailers, as well as nine prime movers and 14 heavy pullers from Scania and Volvo. The company recently provided end-to-end logistics for the transportation of skin panels that find use in the prime movers currently being built by Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle, South Korea, from Tata Motors’ Jamshedpur plant where they are manufactured. According to its managing director, T G Ramalingam, Procam Logistics will be investing Rs. 10 crore towards acquiring a 400-tonne hydraulic axle jack, which should help in the transportation of rail coaches. The decision to procure a hydraulic axle jack stemmed out of the challenges the company has faced in transporting metro coaches. And, because of the dearth of skilled operators. Apart from transporting 500 Bombardier made coaches for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, from Vadodara to Delhi, Procam Logistics has also transported metro rail coaches for the Gurgaon and Hyderabad metro projects. In all, Procam has ferried 800 metro rail coaches to various projects in the country. Opined Ramalingam, “The decision to invest in a 400-tonne hydraulic axle jack was taken as we felt that the mechanical cranes would not serve the purpose.” Taking pride in adhering to stringent delivery schedules, the company transported 174 metro rail coaches, within a month to the city of Delhi, post a debilitating accident during the metro construction. Expressing that his company also takes keen interest in transporting skin panels to Tata Daewoo with the help of various modes, Ramalingam added, “The packing of such panels is critical. We specially developed a 140 ft. expandable container that can transfer 62 skin panels at a time. Before dispatch, we do a structural analysis of these containers, to gauge their behaviour while being transported through air, water and land, and also while being lifted by cranes.”

Successful networking

Apart from the use of its own resources, the company operates 100 tractor trailers for five thermal and hydro power projects in the country that are attached to it. Acknowledging the need to utilise its own resources first and foremost, Ramalingam remarked, “We have not limited ourselves from joining hands with others to pool assets.” To present an idea of the nature of equipment, he mentioned, “Considering the size of the axles, it is essential that the trailers are parked at the port or at the client’s.” Employing an asset management system that provides service and support, Procam Logistics has a depot in Chennai which services smaller vehicles from the fleet.

For successful networking, the company has deployed a fleet management system. This helps to offer its clients the facility to track the cargo in real-time. A cell phone application provides Procam’s employees with a constant data feed. It also provides an expense calculation during end-to-end cargo movement. The latter, according to Ramalingam, is important since it offers a clear picture of the expenses incurred, and on a real-time basis. The data is also utilised to benchmark, and proves helpful in the execution of new projects. A joint venture with Caparo Engineering Ltd. has enabled Procam Logistics to access nine warehouses with a total area of 4,00,000 sq. ft. at places like Patna and Gaya.

Infrastructural challenges

Procam Logistics faces many infrastructural challenges in its line of business. A majority of Indian roads (close to 90 per cent), said Ramalingam, are not structured for the transportation of heavy cargo, which falls in the 49 to 110- tonne GVW category. “Generally, these heavy projects are set up on political benefits. However, the non-availability of proper infrastructure is a perennial problem,” he added. Finding the need to build infrastructure for every movement almost, on completion of the entire transportation process, cost escalation can be anywhere between 30 to 40 per cent. The lack of adequate infrastructure not only escalates cost thus, it also eats into the crucial completion deadlines as well. Said Ramalingam, “What can be executed in less than two months can take over nine months because of infrastructural deficiencies. Apart from the management plan, it is important to conduct a feasibility study and arrive at a lashing calculation too. The cargo is exposed to the external environment, and it is therefore absolutely essential to ensure safe operation.”

Technology & quality

In an effort to better utilise technology to up the quality and efficiency of the projects it executes, Procam Logistics is working towards establishing an engineering centre. This centre will work in collusion with its IT set-up at Chennai, which currently keeps a check on the movement of cargo. The centre will focus on customising the software deployed across the firm’s business, and enhance its reach. “We plan to use technology to manage the cargo which is being transported. This would help in minimising the costs involved when actual transportation is under way”, stated Ramalingam. Conducting employee training sessions by engaging experts from across the world in the area of handling cargo, Procam Logistics is keen to ensure that its workforce is well-informed and well-versed with the latest developments. “Our classroom programs not only focus on the operational side of our business but also on aspects such as health, safety and environment,” remarked Ramalingam. Happy about the government’s move to issue permits online for the movement of heavy cargo, Ramalingam opined that procedural delays should be avoided at the regulatory level. “It feels nice that out of 1,250 permissions issued in the last one year, nearly 1,200 of them have been online permissions. If there can be initiatives where hydraulic trailer operators come together to minimise delays at the operational level, it will be highly advantageous,” he concluded.

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