Ports are the lifelines of the maritime supply chain. Even during the lockdown period, APM Terminals Pipavav remains one of the few ports that have surpassed expectations by resuming safe operations in the port. In conversation with Logistics Insider, Jakob Friis Sorensen, Managing Director, APM Terminals Pipavav [Gujrat Pipavav Port Limited] sheds light on ensuring employee safety during such unprecedented times, the forthcoming link-up with the DFC (Dedicated Freight Corridor) and how customers will rethink their supply chains after this crisis. Excerpts follow:
What are the measures undertaken by APM Terminals Pipavav to ensure smooth operations despite the nationwide lockdown announced in India?
We have carefully ensured that we protect our employees by adopting stringent measures in line with the guidelines of the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) and local governing bodies so that people feel safe. Since we are located far away from large metropolitan areas, we have been able to ensure controlled movements in and out of the port. The entry of non-business critical visitors at the port is prohibited. However, business-critical visits are permitted on prior approval and visitors are undergoing health screening at port entry/exit to ensure the safety of the employees and the visitors. We collaborate with our surrounding villages where our people live. Our collaboration with Customs, police and other administrative authorities is excellent.
Research agencies like India Ratings have predicted port volumes to reduce materially between May and June 2020 as global trade volumes shrink. How is APV terminals Pipavav prepared to handle this crisis?
In the current period we, in Pipavav Port, have seen a few sporadic opportunities due to our continuous safe operation even during the extended lockdown. We acknowledge the persistent work of our employees to support our customer’s supply chain with minimum disruptions. We are grateful to our customers for their faith in us.
As someone with a stellar career as yours, you have been in constant touch with the maritime sector over the years. What are the major transformations that have you seen in the sector that has helped it grow and expand?
The shipping and logistics sectors are very dynamic and constantly evolving, driven by innovations leading to the cost reductions. One example is the development of larger vessels with lower environmental impact – another very current trend is digitalization.
What are the efforts taken by APM Terminals to improve hinterland connectivity?
APM Terminals Pipavav is going to be linked up with DFC (Dedicated Freight Corridor) which will increase the capacity in the MumbaiDelhi development corridor. Additionally, we have links with a number of other Indian ports through Coastal services. We are hopeful that the Government will improve the road network in Saurastra for the smooth connectivity.
There have been doubts about ports running during the lockdown, since ports require a considerable human interface for the smooth functioning of operations. How do you ensure employee safety and adherence to social distancing, even in such unprecedented times?
We had the Contingency Plans ready; so even at the time of lockdown announcement by honourable PM Modi in March 2020, we had the protective equipment and procedures in place. When people see how serious we are about their safety; it motivates them to continue to work for us.
Due to the pandemic, it has been predicted that supply chain disruptions will affect last-mile connectivity across the entire sector. Does this hold true for APM Terminals Pipavav as well?
Customers will rethink their supply chains after this crisis and there will be a different approach to DIT. Supply lines are likely to become more diversified and de-risking from “all eggs in one basket” inventory in transit will be optimized by IT systems and there will be new innovations. Consumers’ buying habits will probably also change as a consequence of this lockdown.
As someone who has tested the waters of logistics and supply chain in various countries, what are the areas where you think India needs more progress, in order to be at par with global standards?
India has tremendous opportunities, whereas the decision process in general is rather long. Agility, flexibility and adaptability to new innovations will be India’s force in the future. As a country known for IT innovators, it is ironic that so many processes are still manual and paper-dependent.