Logistics companies are responsible for driving the success for most retail businesses worldwide, literally. But unknown to many, mobile technologies has driven the success for these organizations in India.
A case in point is Safexpress, which has been widening its transportation and logistics footprint across the country. And it could do this courtesy the mobile technology that was a critical part of its digital transformation journey.
This Indian supply chain company started its operations in 1997 with a mission of delivering logistics excellence. Today, it offers value added supply chain services for various different business verticals using technology as its bedrock. And within this IT network, mobile played a key role.
Rubal Jain, MD, Safexpress said, “Till about five six years ago, everything was on desktop and laptops and capturing data at the point of delivery or at the point of pickup or in the field were very hard and it was always after we had done the activity that somebody came and entered it. Capturing that data live with a mobile technology has really helped us get accurate and on-time data. And that forms the base for everything else in our company.
THE BIG PUSH THROUGH
When Safexpress started on its digital transformation journey, its purpose was to digitize processes so that the business could enjoy long-term benefits. So, in 2017, it built a functional technology roadmap on five pillars, which included Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security or CAMSS.
The management was well aware that a connected logistics platform that leveraged edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) could control waste and yield real-time feedback mechanisms. This real time data would help it increase its efficiency by providing it on-ground information for its entire supply chain and scale its operations gradually, wherever needed.
“IOT internet of things has pushed us through, cloud has helped us to ensure that there is secure and fast connectivity and a very quick scaling up,” Jain said. “We have cameras, camera feeds coming in which are being fed through NAI engine now Watson that allows us to study what’s right, what’s wrong in any hub and give out alerts. We have all of them are Wi-Fi enabled, all of them are mobile enabled. So an operator on the floor is able to connect back to the office very easily with the data in his hand and just start loading and unloading trucks without having to return to the office for his next assignment.”
So while a Safexpress staffer gets the next assignment on hand, he just moves from shutter number 13 to shutter number 20 and starts the unloading operation without wasting any time. He gets all data in hand and starts scanning every package. Safexpress claims to be the first indigenous company to have barcode scanning for every single box at every point of presence in India.
Jain stated, “This has helped improve accuracy, as there are no lost packages, there are no delays in loading and unloading and we’re really speeding up the process on ground within our hub network.”
While building its technology roadmap, Safexpress explored different solutions since it is spread across different geographies. In some cases, its hubs were located far away from cities, so technologies like MPLS, leased line or even a mobile network could not work. Despite this, the company had to built capabilities within its team to ensure that all hubs nonetheless functioned in the same way. And it had to ensure that the connection could support its in-house HUB on the GO (HOG) platform that enabled it to optimise labour and hub performance for faster loading and unloading of vehicles.
Jain explained, “All locations have the same technology bandwidth and the technology equipment available to them to be able to run. It has taken time in India the fast inning country but still that takes time for high level technology, enterprise technology to be deployed in far flung areas. That’s what we’ve been working on for a long time.”
ALL SET FOR THE FUTURE
As a future-ready organization, Safexpress has set up an innovation lab where its team members use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions to get real-time delivery updates, devise secure digital payment gateways, share real-time proof of delivery, etc. However, this is just a small aspect of its 2020 goal, which focuses on sales.
Jain revealed, “So we will have 20 crores at by March 2020 and for that technology is a very strong asset for us. We don’t see ourselves moving ahead without technology, we are actually a technology company even though we come across purely as a logistics company but for us all technology is deployed in ensuring that we are improving our services timing again.”
He added that the company is continuously deploying a lot of capital in technology and coming up with new solutions, using AI and ML and using ground level solution. “We don’t even need to be that fancy, but things that actually work at the ground level; things that are drivers. Our delivery team can work with on the ground and just making life easier for the teams across the country. So there is no one specific target in terms of what technology we want to what technology target do we have but we are in the CAMSS framework, we’re focusing a lot on ensuring that we can grow ourselves to becoming a technology leader within this segment,” he summed up.
Read more digital transformation journeys of retail companies on PHYGITS.
Written by: admin
labelMobility todayMay 11, 2019
Senior Researcher, STSM and Manager, Retail and Distribution, Industries Research | IBM Research