Webinar on Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Logistics Industry and Roadmap to Recovery

  • Use of technology in smooth functioning and delivery through route planning and optimization, implementing contactless deliveries and cashless transactions to ensure safety
  • Live tracking of ground personnel & smart geocoding, challenges of accessibility (delivery in containment zones), and e-commerce players’ business strategy for delivering essential goods
  • Unavailability of sufficient labour, and FMCG companies struggle to transport their goods due to shortage of trucks
  • Measures to ensure health security and protection for drivers & delivery executives

New DelhiChartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) India and Exhibitions India Group on 26th June, 2020 convened an enlightened panel of industry veterans for a live webinar on ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Logistics Industry and Roadmap to Recovery.’ Supported by Logistics Skill Council and autoX, the webinar focussed on the landscape and challenges of the $200 billion-plus Indian logistics industry that struggles with difficult ground realities in the wake of the pandemic.

Shri Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament and India’s Sherpa to G20 & G7 delivered the opening address at the e-summit that was widely attended by industry personnel. “India has made major strides in the logistics industry over the last two decades. While we may not be spending 14% of GDP on infrastructure, we must not corelate logistics as totally dependent on new infrastructure. In fact, if we utilize all existing infrastructure available in India, a lot of our logistics issues could be solved. We have one of the largest railway networks in the world, and have worked intensively to improve our roads. We must thank the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in creating the first dedicated national logistics policy, which helps promote trade both domestically and internationally. I would also like to salute the nameless and faceless logistics warriors of the country, who risk their lives every day to keep the country running.”

Some important takeaways from the esteemed panel include:

Shri Shanti Narain, Chairman, CILT India delivered a special address, “It would be fair to say that we are passing through unprecedented times. COVID-19 has surgically disrupted global supply chains. The movement of essential goods was also halted initially, but the logistics sector has shown resilience by resuming services despite obstacles. Our short-term needs pertain to government and public sector support that can help create employment, as well as offer cheap credit of critical capital to companies that are suffering during the pandemic. Our long-term perspective is that the industry must work with the government to formulate an Integrated Logistics Policy as we help the logistics sector to contribute significantly to the national economy.

Moderator Shri Chandranath Dey, Head – Industrial Operations, Business Development & Industrial Consulting, India, JLL India hosted an insightful discussion, touching on various topics such as the importance of technology, competitiveness and the contribution of logistics warriors in the country. “Technology can be used as a key contributor in logistics, such as mapping and tracking of cargo. During COVID-19, it can be used to also keep a track of human resources in order to maintain health and safety protocols.”

Elaborating on the RaaS (Relay as a Service) model of logistics pioneered by his firm, Shri Deepak Garg, Founder, RIVIGO opined, “We have essentially turned our trucks into IoT devices with sensors; which ensures no pilferage, and safety of cargo. Using technical deployments, we were able to communicate with our entire workforce. Every Rivigo driver is on a pilot app- which includes details of work schedule, health insurance etc. Using the app, we were able to continuously educate them on the evolving health and safety SOPs. We also provide all of the data live to our customers so they can track their consignments. We have now gone a step ahead and installed electronic locks on our trucks.”

Shining a light on the impact of COVID-19 on railways, Shri Sanjiv Garg, MD, PRCL & Vice Chairman, CILT INDIA explained, For the first time in the world, PRCL ran double-stacked electric container trains in June, 2020. We must use the opportunities offered by COVID-19 to our advantage. PRCL is trying to operationalize our CTO license to become fully operational as a CTO very soon. The lockdowns forced a lot of road cargo to move on to rail, owing to travel constraints, as well as lack of manpower. Another change in trends post lockdowns has reflected in an increase in export cargo and drop in import cargo on rails. Being the first SPV of Indian Railways, PRCL has demonstrated that a multimodal module can be successful and profitable.”

Responding to a question from the moderator on the impact of COVID-19 on Indian ports- which are a major logistics hub, Shri Amar More, CEO, Kale Logistics Solutions said, The impact of COVID-19 has been both positive and negative. On the macro level, the last 3-4 months saw ports globally congested, mostly due to lack of manpower to process paperwork and move cargo.” Speaking of the opportunities created by the pandemic, he continued, “The silver linings include a) an appreciation for technology, as the players who had embraced tech tools were able to minimize business impact b) it saw the government and industry working side by side to create solutions, & c) the value of logistics sector was highlighted. One of the most important steps that must be taken is reducing the use of paper in logistics- which is a very paper-intensive industry, as coronavirus survives for very long on surfaces.

Shri Sivasailam N, IAS, Former Special Secretary Logistics, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India Aatmanirbhar Bharat would ideally be India being self-reliant, existing alongside the world. The big-ticket item right now is shipping, and the call for manufacturing vessels in India. I’m certain that a facilitating environment will be provided if we start manufacturing them, as this also becomes a big conduit to attract FDI in India. I advocate investors and private players willing to invest in shipping to create the ecosystem, just as we worked together with the government to draft the National Logistics Policy. Another area we can work on is that our railway systems are currently unable to handle a lot of cargo. We invite private players to invest here, as the amount of investment isn’t very large in creating last-mile connects, and will go a long way in facilitating logistics in India.”

Capt Ramanujam TS, CEO, Logistics Sector Skill Council said, Everyone involved in logistics sector did their duty, unperturbed by lack of protection or resources. India’s logistics warriors deserve all the appreciation, as they maintained essential services throughout the pandemic. In terms of future roadmap, I believe the relay model is here to stay. Local will indeed be the new model in logistics, and it also helps optimise resources. As liquidity starts to become an issue in the post COVID-19 world, technological tools such as blockchain will become instrumental. There will be changes in the logistics landscape as the cost of carriage will surge, owing to factors such as rising fuel costs. LSC has, for its part been educating the workforce with nuanced training modules for say, truckers and delivery personnel to ensure healthy and safety.

You may view a recording of the webinar here: 

About CILT :

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) is a non-profit organisation involved in promotion and development of logistics and transport sector. Founded in the United Kingdom in 1919, it provides a source of authoritative views for communication to government, industry and the community. CILT is currently operating in 31 countries globally and has over 30,000 logisticians as its members.

CILT-India was formed in 1993 and has more than 2,000 practicing professionals besides 35 corporate organisations as its members. To know more, kindly visit: www.ciltindia.in

About Exhibitions India Group :

Exhibitions India Group (EIG) is a trade promotion organization creating opportunities for investments, joint ventures and technology transfers. EIG acts as an interface between businesses, government, academia, society, media, etc. EIG has been in existence since 1987 and is committed to providing satisfaction to its customers by organizing quality and focused international trade shows through exceptional services, employee involvement, market intelligence and continual improvement. For more, please visit: http://www.exhibitionsindia.com