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Alkesh Kumar Sharma, CEO and Managing Director, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation, shares his thoughts on digitisation, and how the company's recently commenced RFID tagging system has become a big hit.
Considering the sheer scale of the project, how is DMIC monitoring day-to-day operations with the help of digitisation?
To monitor the progress on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), we have appointed a project management consultancy. In addition to this, we have also developed an in-house Project Monitoring and Implementation System (PMIS), through which we monitor the progress of each and every phase of the project.
Through PMIS, we are able to monitor real-time progress on a dashboard, by which we come across the amount of work (that) has been completed, or is in progress.
Interestingly, this dashboard can be accessed from anywhere in the world. You only require an Internet connection. Here, officials responsible for their tasks are required to update the IT-based monitoring system on a real-time basis, as there are multiple contractors involved.
Apart from online monitoring every month, we monitor the progress manually with the help of state officials. There is a double advantage in this entire process -one, through real-time monitoring, we come to know the exact nature of the challenge, if any, and through systematic way of communication within state and DMIC officials, we can gauge the on-ground progress.
As both methods complement each other, for us, it is the most efficient way of executing projects of this stature. By and large, we are on schedule in all projects, and of these, we should be able to complete some projects before schedule.
DMIC, in corporation with Japan-based NEC, has developed a logistics databank. Tell us more about this project...
We have formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with 50:50 equity participation for setting up a logistics databank aimed at reducing logistics costs, removing bottlenecks for faster development of the sector, and ensuring information on a real-time basis.
The project, which commenced in July last year, helps in informed decision-making, creating a competitive environment across the logistics industry, provides better governance and introduces complete transparency and visibility with an option for performance evaluation of ports, Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and truckers.
We have hammered out the concept of the Logistics Data Bank (LDB) project through a detailed feasibility study conducted across the Indian logistics sector in order to address the issues of tracking and viewing the movement of containers across ports to the ICDs and end-users.
The project has been developed after extensive consultations with the stakeholders and support from the Ministry of Shipping, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Ministry of Railways, Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Indian Port Association, and the Director-General for Foreign Trade (DGFT).
It also provides value-added services, including comparative metric-based analysis. This would enable the Central and state governments, importers, exporters and other stakeholders to assess comparative performances and identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks to develop strategies for faster development of the sector.
This is a great initiative; however, how does the entire process work?
We have affixed RFID tags to shipping containers being loaded and unloaded at ports in JNPT, Mumbai. We have also installed RFID reader/writers at locations including port entrances and exits, toll plazas on the Expressway between Delhi and Mumbai, and Inland Container Depots (ICDs) where Customs inspections are carried out and cargo is reloaded.
The positional information obtained by RFID reader/writers will then be gathered on a real-time basis, via a cloud-based logistics visualisation system. In this way, its logistics visualisation services will enable shippers and transport operators to perform real-time searches based on accurate positional information, showing the location of containers being transported by rail or road between Delhi and Mumbai. The collected data will be analysed further to present operational metrics across the entire supply chain.
Meanwhile, there are plans to link up the logistics visualisation system with rail transit management systems, port manage¡ment systems and other existing systems in the future, in order to gather information such as freight train running times and container management status at the port. Since its inception, we have tagged more than 20 lakh containers.
How is LDB likely to help logistics players, considering that the cost of logistics in this country is in the range of 13-15 per cent?
It will not only help the entire logistics sector, which I have already explained, but it can also be used as a decision-making tool by other ministries too. For example, it helps you in tracking conditions of a highway, or congestion on highways, calculating the time from one toll plaza to other. Consider this -if a container truck passes 'A' toll plaza, reaching 'B' in two hours covering a distance of 60 km, the same container covers 60 km of distance from 'B' toll plaza to 'C' in three hours. Officials who monitor these routes will come to gauge the exact nature of the challenge. What's more, this system can also track inventory turnaround time, identifying which ICDs are more efficient than the others.
- RAHUL KAMAT