Technological innovations and new trends in logistics, supply chain management

India has always identified as one of the most unorganised markets when it comes to logistics and supply chain and these manpower intensive approaches are not adding any value to it.

By Dhruvil Sanghvi

Most companies in this domain have tried to innovate with the use of tech and yet do their operations in a manual way by putting hundreds of resources on board. For example, we recently observed that many hyperlocal logistics startups have central team, city teams, area teams, analyst teams and a team to coordinate among all these teams! Even after so much manpower, things go wrong on the field and ultimately create a chaos. India has always identified as one of the most unorganised markets when it comes to logistics and supply chain and these manpower intensive approaches are not adding any value to it.

The Big Data way
Big Data and predictive analytics has far greater role to play in saving costs and optimizing operations. The data can be generated from multiple mediums; it could be through GPS Trackers, RF sensors, Mobile devices and it becomes very important to collect this data and store it.Petabytes of data is going to be processed daily, so we need to make sure that all the data is being crunched properly to produce useful insights which can help companies to take required actions.

This is where the smart technology comes into picture. The cutting edge technology has enabled the industry players to come up with products which could help us to cater to all the legs of logistics ranging from First Mile, line haul or last mile. For example the delivery scheduler helps to schedule the deliveries keeping in mind the no of deliveries, availability, capacity and the time slots in the best possible manner. It is integrated with Warehouse Management System (WMS) for schedule based loading/unloading.

The reverse logistics is efficiently planned on the route of forward logistics. The major benefits include:
1. Optimize Operations To Meet Time Bound Deliveries
2. Measure Performance And Track SLAs With Transporters
3. Pay Delivery Boys Based On Distance Travelled
4. Measure Daily Planned vs Actual Number of Deliveries
In the pursuit of continuous innovation and to learn from the best in this industry we have partnered with professors at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Illinois in the US to bring best of the skills in data sciences domain to Indian market.

Survival of the techiest - Hyperlocal space
On demand and same day deliveries will continue to rise and with the lack of funds in this market, it is going to be the most challenging space to watch out for in 2016 as well. Companies which have tech in their DNA are going to have advantage over others. While companies which are driven by people with operational or non-IT background are going to partner with SaaS companies to leverage the power of technology.
For example: The Last Mile Delivery Solution supports multiple flavors of deliveries for example, single pick up with multiple delivery, multiple pick-up with single delivery, single pick up with single delivery and multiple pick-up with multiple deliveries.

Having seen promising results and believing that complete automation is possible to reduce operational cost by a huge extent, many companies have decided to launch their own automated operations. The new products that are being introduced is targeted specifically to those entities who could focus on their core business and outsource last mile delivery part to the experts. This helps the operators in three ways:
1. Collect more data to improve the accuracy of ETA prediction, route planning and dispatch optimization
2. Increase the market size by offering a completely automated delivery fleet to the clients
3. Without undertaking any operations hassle and maintaining more than 2 percent net margin with bigger topline revenues.

Mapping tier 2 and tier 3 cities - the real challenge
In India when we talk about tier 2 and tier 3 cities, addresses are still not well structured, unlike most of the western countries. In that case, how to identify nearest vendor or nearest delivery boy? How to ensure the address provided is the correct address? Unless the address is provided correctly, maps would not be able to detect location. The solution to this problem is Geocoding. Geocoding is nothing but the process of associating an address or a name of a place with coordinates on the map.

The system automatically segments the address entered by the customer into different blocks and then try and locate the correct coordinates on the map. Providing the option of updating location manually where someone would check for the customer address and pinpoint it on the map and lock the coordinates has been a big boost for the players. Another way is using reverse Geo Coding technique wherein one is able to connect with individual customer via smart phones in real time, grab their GPS signal and translate it in to coordinates when they place an order. Channel partnerships with startups like Zippr who have taken up this challenge and are building an ecosystem to map the complex addresses in India will help the logistic sector specialists a lot.

Gaining competitive advantage
More and more traditional companies would start leveraging technology to gain competitive advantage. One of the most liked and used feature is what we call “control room”. This is a combination of dashboards which can be viewed on large screens and gives a NASA-like centralised control room feeling where the operations team can sit and assist their field team to make better decisions on a minute-by-minute basis. The Heat Maps are enabling companies to identify bottlenecks in their current network. Heat maps provide information on those areas where maximum delays are happening.

The tech teams of the companies and startups are developing more interesting features like these and the future of the sector looks promising.

The author is CEO and Co-founder, LogiNext Solutions.

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