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Interview with Harpreet Singh Malhotra, Managing Director, Tiger Logistics India Limited

March 28, 2019
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Logistics companies are deploying, smart solutions in various areas, including supply chain management, delivery and storage with the aim of streamlining operations and deriving business benefits. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics have also started marking their presence in the logistics sector, with a number of applications emerging around these technologies. Going forward, blockchain is expected to impact the sector in a big way by driving transparency and efficiency in supply chain management and enhancing the customer experience. Harpreet Singh Malhotra, Managing Director, Tiger Logistics India Limited talks about the emerging IT trends in logistics, the status of technology adoption and the future outlook...

What role is ICT playing in the logistics and transportation sector?

ICT is playing a crucial role in the logistics and transportation sector, providing linkages between chain participants and ensuring effective management of the time, cost and quality of services rendered. The supply chain management processes are also becoming a significant value addition with the extensive use of ICT. Supply chain information systems comprise both hardware and software. Hardware includes the computer’s input/output devices and storage media, while software includes the entire system and application programmes used for transaction management, decision-making and strategic planning. A wide range of ICT tools and techniques, which are part of electronic commerce, help conduct businesses more efficiently and create a paperless environment.

What are some of the key ICT solutions deployed by your organisation? How is it benefiting your operations?

At Tiger Logistics, we are using electronic data interchange (EDI), e mail, electronic fund transfers, electronic publishing, image processing, shared databases and magnetic/ optical data capture. Through ICT, we are able to automate the process of transferring documents between suppliers and customers. EDI has provided benefits such as quick information processing, better customer service, reduced paperwork, increased productivity, improved tracing, and cost efficiency and improved billing. It has also reduced the distortions and exaggeration in supply and demand information, and facilitated real-time sharing of demand and supply information.

What is the scope of new technologies like IoT, big data analytics and AI in the sector? How are you leveraging these technologies?

The future of logistics will depend on four key elements – customer-centricity, sustainability, technology and people. The industry is witnessing the emergence of AI and new concepts such as smart containerisation (new container formats to enhance urban logistics) and connected life (integration of logistics services with smart home environments). Robotics and software automation will redefine the structure of the logistics workforce in the future.

What are the key challenges faced in the adoption of ICT solutions? How can these be addressed?

New technologies in computers and mobile devices are changing the way the world communicates. Companies are realising that their conventional supply chain integration will have to be expanded beyond existing peripheries. In such a scenario, a clear vision, strong planning and technical insight are needed for better supply chain management. This will ultimately improve their competitiveness. Companies must harness the power of technology by leveraging new supply chain management applications, the internet and other networking links.

What are the upcoming technology trends that will shape the logistics industry over the next few years?

Logistics service providers must improve their enterprise resource planning (ERP). A common dilemma faced by key project evaluation teams at leading global logistics enterprises is whether to customise their existing ERP or deploy a best-of-breed and proven logistics solution readily available in the market. Each approach has its own merits and the best way to make a decision is by looking at the critical success factors such as project cost, implementation timeframes and risks related to vendors’ capabilities. Further, a project manager needs to see whether either of these IT options is aligned with the larger business goals. Third-party logistics, or 3PL, is a business process wherein companies outsource their logistics and supply chain activities to a service provider that specialises in handling different logistics functions. These include transportation, warehousing, and freight and forwarding. We also provide various value-added services such as management information system in the supply chain.

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