Vikas Anand, Managing Director, DHL Supply Chain India, talks about multi-client sites, the e-commerce wave, government´s role in the sector and much more.
What has been DHL´s contribution to the logistics sector?
In 2010, when GST was announced, with the promises of a trillion dollars of investments in logistics, we at DHL decided to make our company GST ready. We looked at four key parameters- investment in warehouses, transport, training, and IT. When you look at a warehouse in India, the quality is very poor; the size of a warehouse is 15,000-20,000 sq ft, coupled with bad flooring, lack of fire sprinklers, and fire NOC. To address this, we started building multi-client sites.
We have built around seven-eight mega sites in the range of 2-5 lakh sq ft in key cities and strategic locations. These warehouses are 13 and a half metre high with 6 tonnes of flooring, unidirectional flow of traffic, drivers´ restroom, access control, 6 per cent skylight, etc. We have built in Mumbai, Pune, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and are going live in Kolkata and JNPT.
To build such warehouses, connecting them with long-haul transport is essential. Large capacity vehicles, which are multi-axle trucks called side curtain trucks, where loading can be done from all the three sides, are required. These are long-haul vehicles, run with two drivers and are GPS enabled. The drivers are trained; we have a drivers´ training academy.
We have created an operations simulation centre- a lego version of a warehouse. No blue-collar worker would go to the site, without being trained. Then, there is training for supervisory and managerial skills.
How is e-commerce logistics different from conventional logistics? What enables such speed and accuracy of delivery?
As far as the speed of e-commerce logistics is concerned, it is the trade that you are looking at. Even technology companies in the service logistics space have two-hour delivery contracts. The warehouses are in the city; using the hub and spoke model. When you say conventional logistics, you are probably looking at movement of raw materials like cement, steel, etc., where the delivery time is not considered very crucial, since they understand time in days. In case of service parts or spare parts logistics, we understand time in minutes. In the past, it was B2B, now it´s B2C with e-commerce coming in, and has become the talking point since a large mass is experiencing it.
Do you have a dedicated e-commerce wing?
We have the PEP division (post e-commerce parcel) of DHL group company Bluedart, which is one of the market leaders in terms of last mile delivery and e-fulfillment.
Where does Indian logistics stand in terms of last mile connectivity?
There is a lot of investment that is happening in the last mile delivery space. Lot of small companies are being funded. But when you have to connect them across India, there is a severe shortage of aircraft belly space, for example, and very few companies have dedicated aircrafts.
Do you see any positive changes post the inception of the Modi Government?
The policies are in the same direction. GST started in 2010. Our faith in the India story is there. Our concerns are around infrastructure in India, where the government can play a more active role. The fact that the government planned a trillion dollar of investment in the last five-year plan, a lot of it through PPP, the Make in India push and the Digital India are positive moves.
How significant is skill development?
Trained manpower is very significant. We have embarked upon a Certified Supply Chain Specialist Programme in this regard. A vocational training programme on warehousing needs to be looked at.