Our story on driving operational excellence in logistics for a leading cement manufacturer

By Freight Tiger News Desk/5 minutes read
Using technology to solve fragmented and unorganised logistics process

The year was 2019. 

Freight Tiger had mastered implementing freight visibility in small to mid sized shippers and over 50 LSPs across the country. 

We were ready to scale our platform with a large customer who had an enormous manufacturing capacity, and who had their infrastructure spread over multiple regions. 

Thus entered Dalmia Cement. They have a massive capacity of almost 36 million tons per annum, spread across 13 plants, in 11 states and 3 regions.  They were striving to resolve the challenges involved with fragmented and unorganised logistics operations by establishing a centralised and transparent view of their freight operations.

And most importantly, we had a mutually shared vision to drive operational excellence within the logistics function by leveraging technology.

We were excited and eager to partner with them to simplify their freight operations.  

With the support from Dalmia Cement team, we mapped the current infrastructure that answers realistic questions like:

  • What do we have today?
  • What is working as expected?
  • What is working but needs minor fixing?
  • What solutions are missing?
  • What solutions Freight Tiger can provide today?
  • What can we develop in the next 6 months?
  • What can we develop in the next 12 months?
  • What do we prioritize to maximize impact?

We started reviewing integrations with their SAP ERP, in-plant systems, transporter payment systems, and customer order placement app in order to achieve end-to-end visibility on a single platform. We planned and executed our solutions with central and regional teams, and we were able to go-live at 4 factories across 3 states in the East and North East area in less than two months.

Operational Challenges

This launch effort helped us identify on-ground operational blockers that we couldn’t identify during process mapping. These blockers ranged from the dispatch staff unable to follow the operational flows in one plant, to the parking yard being almost 1 KM away from the plant gate in another.

Solving these problems exposed us to on-ground realities and helped us build a repository of the challenges faced, and potential solutions.

We found ourselves carrying multiple cell phones with different telecom providers due to unreliable networks at remote plant locations. We would go around the plant identifying the right location to initiate the tracking processes on driver phones.

They also helped us accept certain realities about operational limitations that can only be solved over time, with relentless repetition and muscle memory among transporter babus and drivers.

At this point we realigned with the Dalmia Cement team and agreed on a stabilization checklist. This helped us both identify the most important items to execute before we call a plant operationally stable.

What we learned was that scaling a SaaS platform in a highly decentralized and operational environment is no walk in the park. It took massive change management efforts, stakeholder management, critical checklists, and prioritization.

2020 – When COVID-19 hit

We were forced to hit a break on all our launch and expansion efforts. All manufacturing units remained closed for months, and we lost the momentum we built launching the first 4 of the 12 plants. 

In the later part of April 2020, we received news of cement plants being partially operational with only limited manpower. We decided to reignite our launch efforts, but within months, the world had completely changed, and our learnings from conducting in-person launches were no longer relevant.

Our new set of challenges were:

  • All traveling was banned.
  • Manufacturing was only at 50% capacity.
  • Serious manpower shortage due to high displacement.
  • LSP babu’s were no longer allowed in the plant’s parking.
  • Drivers were no longer allowed to get off their trucks during loading or invoice collection.
  • Dispatch teams were no longer allowed to handle driver’s phones.

Launching at new plants seemed like a big hurdle to us and so, we decided to go back to fundamental values of operating from first principles.

New plan of action

We reviewed our challenges and decided to solve the most basic problems like lack of face-to-face interactions, contact less delivery of information to high-touch stakeholders (babus and drivers), remote review mechanisms and agreed on the frequencies at which we will realign.

  • We started a daily regional call to review plant activities, learnings, challenges, and short term and long term solutions
  • We created training material in regional languages in audio and video format to be shared among the babu and driver communities on WhatsApp
  • Developed pocket cards with instructions to be sent out along with invoices so drivers can recall operational steps during material delivery
  • Conducted multiple remote trainings with transporter babus to groom them for driver trainings
  • Sensitized the plant staff over the importance of operational success with regular reviews with central teams

This was possible only because of the relentless support and cooperation we received from the Dalmia Cement team. At one point, we had their COO Mr Ujjwal Batria and Executive Director Mr Saurabh Gupta, who helped us drive the most basic adoption KPIs with their Regional Heads.

We were able to remotely launch 8 plants in 7 states in the South, East and North East in 4 months and all the plants were in a stable state in the next 6 months.

The Outcome 

Today, after 2 and a half years, we have come all the way from driving adoption within the plant stakeholders to automating freight payments on day 0. From driving basic KPIs like tracking %, to driving high impact KPIs like OTD and OTIF. 

In our journey together we’ve been able to create:

  • A unified platform that highlights end-to-end cost and service KPIs
  • About 95% visibility on all movements – achieve over 50% GPS adoption
  • Seamless data exchange between multiple platforms – ERPs, Apps, DBs
  • Identify freight leakages across distribution channels  
  • Create awareness about order to delivery cycles

Schedule a demo to learn more about Freight Tiger products.

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Authored By

Freight Tiger News Desk

More about the Author

Freight Tiger News Desk

Published on 17 May 2022


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