Digitisation is very significant in today’s times.
Our CEO, Swapnil Shah, engaged in a conversation with Kanika Mathur, the Editor of Indian Cement Review, on how collaborative logistics and digitisation can orchestrate freight cost savings and improved customer service for cement manufacturers.
What is the role of digitalisation in optimising the distribution and logistics of cement?
Digitalisation plays a huge role. It has a massive impact and almost every customer we work with today has a chief digital officer. Digitisation is very significant in today’s times. Companies are also investing in dedicated digital teams and it is happening across all industries. Industry leaders are not only hiring digital experts for their operations but are also involved with the same for their business. This is about digitalisation only from an impact involvement point of view. Looking into the details of what digitisation means, there are a whole lot of things that are happening today. To share a few examples,
It allows the ability to have visibility into every delivery in terms of location, ETA, etc. Customers are consuming it for their own use, within their company, and they want to give that visibility to their end customer, too. So, the most basic use of digitalisation is bringing visibility for every order to customers and helping them plan better.
Being digital allows companies to track their footprint, get data analytics, understand issues with their services and analyse their costs. This helps them make many distribution decisions based on location data, average transit times, lead distance and more.
Often cement deliveries get diverted and this is a huge problem that most service providers are trying to resolve. With digitalisation and use of technology, cement makers can keep a track of their actual end user and understand their issues and try to work on them.
How can your system make a difference in managing cost efficiency for the cement industry?
We essentially give transportation management software and a visibility platform. Transportation management software is changing rapidly today. Freight Tiger builds a unifying platform as a connective tissue among all IT platforms, stakeholders and vendors. That is the first role we play. We help our customers manage order to delivery timelines in a very tight manner.
Often there are minor issues, like distances not being correct for which freight is paid and sometimes there is backloading at cement plants. In these cases, Freight Tiger allows customers to make sure the distances are correct. If diversions or backloading happens, it gives visibility into it. That’s a unique solution that we provide.
Case Study: How Freight Tiger’s Control Tower Helped Customer with Diversion Savings of ₹1Cr+ per Month. Read more.
Measurement of performance is another area where we play a role. In terms of performance of distribution footprint, optimised lead time, per kilometre rate, lead distance, free trade routes etc. Freight Tiger allows you to understand service quality and its competitive edge over the market in terms of the delivery SLAs. We allow companies to measure and influence all of this in their operations.
Tell us about 360-degree management of freight operations for the cement industry through your platform.
On the one hand, you are sourcing raw material, and on the other, you are making all these deliveries either through your distribution footprint or directly from the plant. So, a 360-degree approach means the total cost of raw material sourcing logistics, the whole cost end-to-end, day-to-day distribution, percentage of deliveries directly serviced through plants versus through a series of distribution layers.
How do you connect the Freight ecosystem for the cement industry with your platform?
Freight Tiger is a technology- and a product-first company. We are a neutral party to all that happens in our customers’ environment.
What I mean by neutral is we do not play the role of an aggregator or a logistics service provider. We have no conflict with the existing logistics service providers that the cement company uses. We integrate telematics vendors. We have done close to 200 telematics company integrations, so we stay neutral. We believe that collaboration and neutrality will take us in the industry a lot farther than just trying to remove someone from the value system.
These two are very pivotal when you think about Freight Tiger as a player in this ecosystem.
What are the key pain points in the logistics of cement. How can you help resolve the same?
First and foremost, there is inefficiency and waiting during loading or unloading of the material at the plants. Transit times also are not monitored well. So, part of the inefficiency is because people have to wait due to space constraints or other reasons.
Secondly, cement organisations often have to service their customers in a relatively tighter delivery window. That is a pain point that involves making day-to-day decisions about choosing the right way to service the customers at an optimum cost, without compromising the quality of product or service.
Another major pain point is that cement organisations do not know where their product is unloading. This means that they do not know their end consumer. This is a unique problem in the cement industry because deliveries get diverted. Participants in the ecosystem may divert the deliveries based on requirements. So, knowing the exact unloading location and knowing the end customer is a massive gap in the cement industry.
Digitising proof of delivery and freight invoicing is something we’ve never seen before. Not only for the cement companies, but everyone who works in the value chain – the trucker, the logistics provider, the transporter – each one of them can benefit from this and that would be a big step to remove paper trails and make them into digital records. When we think about EPOD and digital freight invoicing that you do at the end of the day ensures all stakeholders are benefited from it. Cement companies have contracts with logistics providers or transporters or they sometimes hire fleet owners and trucks from the market, if they do not have their own. Any solution or change ultimately needs to impact everyone in the ecosystem. EPOD and digital freight invoicing achieves just that by easing the operations for everyone.
Case Study: A leading cement manufacturer, Dalmia Cement saw a 57% reduction in time for proof-of-delivery (PoD) submissions with Freight Tiger platform . Read more.
How do you foresee the changing face of logistics for the Indian cement industry?
It is my understanding that as a cement manufacturer, I would like to know my customer or where my product is exactly getting unloaded, instead of directionally knowing where the product is headed to. Another important factor is sustainability, whereas as a manufacturer or distributor the target would be to have the same or more deliveries by travelling less, optimising and reducing empty miles.
Cement companies are also moving towards alternative fuel vehicles, electric vehicles for some part of their delivery. I see that as a big change. And overall, analytics and how some sort of machine learning AI can help me make better decisions day to day. That is also on everyone’s mind. And, I think it is going to transform how people make decisions going forward. Those are the few things I will say are quite important as we look at the future.
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Published on 04 Jul 2023
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