The Most Awaited Tech-Revolution Is Finally Happening In Logistics
Reliance Industries Limited is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Reliance owns businesses across India engaged in industries like energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. Reliance's products and services portfolio touches almost all Indians on a daily basis across all economic and social spectrums. I recently got to converse with Reliance’s Pradeep Tewari, one of the logistics experts in the country.
In conversation with Pradeep Tewari, Head Logistics - Petchem Operations at Reliance Industries Ltd
What does the COVID-19 era mean for the logistic industry from a technology standpoint, what are the challenges that the companies are facing right now?
There are three things important that COVID-19 has proved, one should have a business strategy, whether it is domestic or international. We had a very good experience when we shifted to the international market, meaning that there were no business flaws and each and every dispatch was quite good. Another important thing is the technology and the IP Systems. Technology gives the edge and differentiation in especially situations like this (pandemic). As we have always been quite aggressive in terms of technology adoption, it has paid off this COVID period. We work from home and our vendors, be it very small vendors or large vendors, everybody was connected, and all the vehicles were continuously tracked. The whole thing moved because of the technology advantage and integrated automated systems.
The organizations which were set up with this kind of technology vision survived the pandemic and increased their business. Logistics options is another important thing. One should keep all the modes in their portfolio because in this kind of
situation when the roads are closed, only ships and railways help logistics organizations to survive. We seamlessly moved the goods by the railways or through ships to the domestic and international markets. So a fool-proof business strategy, technology & automation, and the flex ibility of multiple options are the three things that are very important.
In logistics, data is now playing a more crucial role, how do you see technology making an impact especially for the customer segment?
People used to think that in logistics & supply chain, processes are run of the mill. But today, from demand planning to the last-mile delivery, everything has to be synchronized and integrated. The synchronization and integration can be done only through IT systems and various technologies. For instance, technology takes warehousing to another level; not to mention the improvements in productivity.
IoT & Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are working out so well for the industry. Similarly, banking transactions and vendor payments can be automated with the help of new payment technologies. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are also significantly helping the logistic industry by giving it the freight structure, so that you can predict the future according to the prevailing trends.
Reliance is a very tech-savvy company. Internally we have been focusing totally on technology, digitization, and automatic processes for a long time. If our vendors are not on the platform, we provide them the platform, facilitate them, and ensure that they follow everything related to the systems and automation so that our digitization program is seamless. We a clear digital shipment approach that restricts manual intervention to a great extent.
People used to think that in logistics & supply chain, processes are run of the mill. But today, from demand planning to the last-mile delivery, everything has to be synchronized and integrated
When I started my career in logistics industry, it was a different era led by 100 percent manual interventions. Everything was sent through either telex or postal department and everything was delayed. Logistics means movement, but now with technology, everything can be done anywhere and everywhere at your fingertip. A lot of changes have happened and the key enablers are IT systems, mobile aps, and many more.
Going forward, there are a lot of developments going on. Our country's GDP is growing very fast and it means crores of worth additional shipments will be moving across and beyond the country. Now with the digital promotion from the government, everything makes digital sense. I believe that the industry will be really generous to the players who are well connected with the technology and who will make a difference. Otherwise the smaller players will be a part of larger companies, where technology and systems are very strong. Everything logistics is going to be 100 percent automated with minimum physical intervention.