Mandar Ovalekar, Head IT, Future Supply Chain Solutions Limited

Recent years have seen massive uptake of key technologies and ICT solutions across the logistics sector in India. Companies are increasingly deploying smart solutions such as tracking systems, RFID tags, etc to improve business efficiency and enhance customer experience. Technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain, AR, among others, are increasingly making inroads in the sector and are redefining the way logistics companies carry out warehouse and supply chain management. That being said, challenges such as lack of availability of trained resources are creating hurdles in widespread adoption of these solutions. Mandar Ovalekar, Head-IT, Future Supply Chain Solutions Limited, discusses the evolving technology landscape in the sector, challenges and the future outlook…

How have ICT requirements of companies in the logistics sector evolved over time amidst growing digitisation?

Technological changes in the logistics industry have been evolving over time and this has enabled the Supply chains to be more efficient and productive and this has enhanced service delivery. Functions such as vehicle tracking and mapping delivery timelines on a real-time basis is considered standard. In fact, technology is now moving at a rapid pace and one important element of supply chains is Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Increasing competition and the need to serve customers in a `Just in Time’ environment has pushed the players in the sector to effectively use ICT for two-way information sharing between suppliers and customers. This empowers front-line workers with information on a real time basis and enables them to make quick decisions based on the information that they have on hand.

The implementation of ICT has led to a paradigm shift in both logistics and SCM services, with cost reduction and availability of real time data, to increase productivity.

How are technologies such as block chain, IoT, AI, ML, transforming the sector? Can you highlight some of the emerging use cases?

Companies operating in the Logistics and Supply Chain industry are transforming the way they do business as customer expectations are driving innovation in this sector. The idea is to work in a more collaborative environment.

They are also re-shaping the sector in ways that will help the sector grow. Every technology has its role to play, like Big Data, Advanced Analytics and the Internet of Things helps to make smart decisions and control many important parameters from a single central location. AI and Machine learning solve complex problems concerning fleet utilisation, matching real-time demand and supply and the efficient utilization of given resources.

FSC’s adoption of technology and automated processes differentiates us within the supply-chain industry in India. We are at the forefront in introducing automation to meet client-specific needs. We have made investments to implement technology and processes in order to increase capacity and operating efficiency, thereby improving profitability and allowing us to customise services to suit requirements of our customers. High Speed Sortation System, Automation of Inbound and Outbound operations, use of Voice in warehouse operations for delivery, robust Warehouse Management System, track and trace of vehicles using IoT and its visibility on one platform are some of the tech intervention that has been implemented in FSC.

What are the key ICT solutions deployed by your organisation? 

FSC as an organisation is always pro-active to accept and implement latest technologies for smooth and efficient services to our clients.

FSC is currently using technologies like Centralized Project Management System, Operation Task Management System, Video Conferencing, Interactive Training Centres etc. to enable seamless flow of communication under single interface. It streamlines communications between people and organizations, regardless of medium, platform, device, or location. For efficient management and simplifying the operations we have adopted SD-WAN and various analytics platforms. In Express operations, to enhance the visibility we have implemented App based pickup & delivery and Sim Triangulation.

We as an organisation believe that evolving technologies and seamless communication is the foundation of modern economic organizations in a knowledge economy.

What are the challenges faced while deploying these new age technologies? How do you plan to address them? 

With the rise of remote work and the deployment of device policies, organisations need to manage the processes that are happening in many different areas and across a wide array of technological channels. ICT plays a vital role here. The new age technology should bring in innovation, adoption is always a major challenge in any sector and logistics is not an exception. However adoption of these new age technologies has some key challenges. The major one is facing difficulty adapting to global connectedness.

There are also security challenges in allotting these new age technologies. Accepting and rising to a more centralized role is also a key challenges in deploying these technologies. FSC’s adoption of latest technology makes us differentiator in the sector. With our adoption of best in class technology in warehouses we aim to provide best services to the clients.

What technology trends are set to disrupt the logistics sector in the near future

There is no doubt that the logistics industry is undergoing an important transformation. The change is visible in different fronts including development structure, occupier’s choices, funding structure and technology inclusion in its sub-components. Digitization is one of the important factors that is driving changes in the sector. Companies are using digitisation to streamline their processes and redesign their services. Business models to reduce the impact of staffing gaps are being implemented. The Covid 19 experience will force companies to redraw their supply chain models and we expect rapid changes that will have a profound impact on supply chain solutions.

Overall, the year 2020 will see some transformative development.