The logistics sector has been seeing a rapid uptake of various technology solutions as enterprises push the pedal on digitalising their businesses and operations. New-age technologies such as internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have made inroads into the sector in recent years. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the digitalisation trend. Ishaan Singh Bedi, CEO, Synchronized Supply Systems Limited, shares his views on the evolving technology landscape, the challenges faced in deploying new-age solutions and the future outlook for the sector…
What are some of the key information and communications technology (ICT) trends that have shaped the logistics space during the past few years?
The Indian logistics industry has millions of small players, and one of the major issues they face is coordinating their processes in providing efficient delivery to their customers. Furthermore, the logistics sector is undergoing disruptive changes due to advances in technologies such as IoT, mobile, social media and cloud computing in the inbound logistics; manufacturing; maintenance, repair and operations; road logistics; and e-commerce/retail logistics sectors. The recent ICT innovations in logistics are essential for developing both hard and soft infrastructure in a coordinated fashion in order to make logistics in India a world-class sector. At Synchronised, we have been developing proprietary technology for the last five years, and we were better suited to handle the pandemic because of it. At the corporate level, we were using our technology on cloud-based systems, and all departments were efficiently able to work from home. Supplier payments were being-made through digital mediums, and there was no difficulty in following Covid-19 precautions. For our distribution business, again, our technology allowed us to be agile. Our driver and team communications were app-driven, which ensured that the teams/trucks were able to operate no matter where they were.
What are the key ICT and technology solutions being used by your organisation, and how are these benefitting operations? Did you deploy any new technologies/digital solutions during the past year in response to Covid?
Synchronized started developing proprietary technology in 2015, and our teams continue to refine it and make it better. We provide our logistics services with technology to ensure error-free services for our customers in warehousing and distribution. We provide services using handheld devices such as bar code scanners and smartphones with 4G connectivity for warehousing and distribution processes. Further, we are using APIs (Application Programming Interface) to provide real-time data, a warehouse management system for warehouses, a distribution management system for transportation, and sharing proprietary applications with clients for ease of services. We did not deploy any new technologies during Covid-19, as doing so requires user testing, and the lockdown was not a good time for technology releases. However, we continued our work on developing new technologies throughout the lockdown and have been deploying them since the lockdown ended.
What are some of the most pressing issues faced while deploying new-age solutions?
A major concern for technology deployment in the logistics industry is user resistance to adopting new technology. Users in our industry, while technically trained, tend to be less educated and sometimes even illiterate. Hence, technology needs to be very refined and simple for adoption by these users. Our logistics technology is easy to use, and our fleet drivers and warehouse operators are active users of our technology. Another major challenge is the availability of technology that is suited to the Indian logistics industry. The key available logistics software are designed for the western markets but repackaged and sold in India. This does not address the unique challenges that the Indian logistics environment poses. Hence, there is a gap that needs to be filled by technology, keeping Indian logistics challenges in mind. We have built technology for India and made by Indians, addressing challenges unique to India.
Going forward, what will be some of the key digital trends that are expected to surface in the logistics sector as the new normal unfolds?
We foresee major developments in the information flows within supply chains. Trust in data sharing between service providers and customers in the logistics chain is going to increase. This will result in seamless and smooth operations within supply chains and will increase end-customer satisfaction, as well as the responsiveness of the supply chains. Further, we are hopeful that technology adoption is going to become faster in the coming times. Technologies such as AI, ML and blockchain will transform the logistics market.