Indian logistics industry drivers geared up to support manufacturing

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We have poured huge investments into land, building, machinery, warehouses, transportation and technology to create world class state-of-the-art facilities, processes and infrastructure to effectively and adequately serve our customers, says Kruti Jobanputra, Director, JWC Logistics Parks. In an interaction with Ritika Arora Bhola, the woman leader extends her analysis and suggestions on the current state of the country’s logistics sector, and informs how they are meeting the requirements of customers and priorities of employees in a complex environment.

How may we best summarise the current state of the Indian logistics and supply chain industry amidst COVID-19. How is the industry reacting and responding to the pandemic?

The logistics industry is the backbone of the country; without which the whole nation would collapse. We are proud to say that we belong to an industry wherein from day one of the lockdown, despite all possible difficulties and unimagined circumstances; the logistics industry is providing its service to the nation in all possible forms. Apart from the medical fraternity’s service, logistics industry is the only one which is working at 85-90 per cent capacity.

Morally, what are your mantra/strategies to sail through this difficult hour?

Our mantra is Patience and Perseverance. JWC Group’s Chairman, in other words, my father, has always been the guiding force for us. He has always taught us that Patience is the ability to withstand something difficult without a loss of composure, and Perseverance is the determination to stick to something and stay on course in spite of obstacles. We have followed the same principles.

In the wake of the outbreak, how are you ensuring smooth coordination between suppliers, transporters and other departments?

As a company, we have always believed in providing customised and personalised logistics solutions to our customers. Some might call this a tactic or strategy but we call it a personal touch and that is what makes us different from others.

May we expect to see more shippers moving freight from ocean to air this year?

Today, it will not be fair to categorise the logistics industry into modes of Air/Sea/ Road/Rail; it completely depends on Time/Money/Value. So, looking at this, cargo will be moved.

There are various problems that every company faces related to its logistics and supply chain process. Can you brief on the ones that your company is facing ince the last few months and how have you managed to overcome them?

The biggest problem that every other organisation in the logistic industry has been facing is manpower shortage. Most of the logistical hubs have migrant workers/labours/drivers.

In our case, we decided to create a hygienic and safe place for our team, for workers and drivers to stay, which helped us give a surety to them. And because of this, we were able to retain 30 per cent of our team who were ready to service our customers.

We surely were under pressure but we were constantly in touch with our people. Within a span of just one month, we were able to bring back our people from their villages safe and sound through our own business. Today, we have more than 300 people staying in our premises, and working in a safe and secure environment.

How has logistics, warehousing and supply chain operations changed as a result of coronavirus?

The logistic industry has not changed much, because ‘work from home’ can’t be practiced here. In fact, in these coronavirus-induced circumstances, many logistic business especially B2B, e-commerce and retail business has flourished.

Tell us about your embracement of technology in executing operations.

Our group has been implementing and practicing digitally driven operations for a very long time now.

We have developed our own customised software for CFS and transport operations and deployed the best warehouse management software of Microsoft for our warehousing and distribution operations.

What can Indian government do more to facilitate the smoother storage and flow of cargo? Your suggestions?

Government has been taking prudent steps to support and facilitate industries including logistics to technologically smoother the flow of cargo by enabling most of the paperwork to be conducted online. While we truly appreciate these measures, we have a few suggestions:

  • Government should provide economical benefits to the industry by waiving off taxes for the next one year.
  • Government should compensate the company who gave full salaries to the staff and workers during the lockdown situation. This will help companies to recover some of the losses.
  • Under Ease of Doing Business motto, government should ease the list of permissions required for a new company to set-up business. It will encourage more companies to start over and revive.

Post-lockdown, how long would you estimate it would take for our industry to get back to business as usual? What will be the growth drivers?

The industry will start recovering by the last quarter of this year, which we all surely hope. Although, sector experts believe that the situation will not improve before 2021.

How can the logistics ecosystem players need to gear up in supporting India’s dream of becoming a manufacturing hub?

I believe, the logistics industry drivers are already geared up to support manufacturing, and we are always ahead of time. Like us, most players in the logistics industry keep pace with time and competition.

The coronavirus outbreak has adversely affected several businesses, but logistics is expected to bounce back strongly in the post-COVID-19 world. Do you feel logistics sector can offer a glimmer of hope to the economy?

Yes, for sure. Indian logistics industry contributes largely to its GDP.

The logistics industry will surely bounce back faster like the medical industry; we have been giving our best and constantly working throughout the corona situation.

According to experts, multimodal logistics has a very bright future in India. Do you agree? What kind of investment goes into infrastructure building at JWC?

We have poured huge investments into land, building, machinery, warehouses, transportation and technology to create world class state-of-the-art facilities, processes and infrastructure to effectively and adequately serve our customers.

Any expansion plans?

Yes, we have big plans to expand in Navi Mumbai where we presently are situated; along with many other cities in our list.

Please share with us your journey in this industry. How hard has it been to leave a mark in this male dominated industry?

My experience in the logistics industry has been a different one. “It’s a man’s world” was the first line I heard just after stepping into the industry. I joined JWC as a trainee working alongside men. Eventually, I got to learn and became familiar with this magnificent sunshine industry.

Initially, it was not easy for people to accept me, especially as their boss. I was treated only as boss daughter for the first few years in office; after which I built determination to create my own place and started working towards it.

I got to learn about the different culture, about the business. Over the time, I developed the interest and worked across departments like operations, admin, HR, finance. Not only did I learn everything but also tried to bring in new ideas/techniques and methods which helped the company to improve and grow. After that, there was no looking back.

Today, after having gained a small experience of over 14 years, I am still keen to learn more new things and enjoy new experiences every day.

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