Since the onset of the pandemic, DHL India has put up a tough fight to keep the wheels running for businesses across the country. To get a closer look at the impeccable operational standards of DHL Express India, and to learn more of the unrivalled portfolio of solutions offered by the company, we spoke to Manish Patel, VP – Operations, DHL Express India. Mr Patel, who was appointed as the VP – Operations of DHL Express India last year, walks us through the investments done by DHL to enhance India’s trade connectivity, its contributions in facilitating the distribution of the vaccine in India, its accelerated development of technology-enabled logistics solutions, and much more.
DHL claims that multi-sector collaboration is key to fighting COVID, and the trend has indeed caught the eye of supply chain and logistics companies after the outbreak of the pandemic. How has collaboration helped supply chains maintain efficiency and deliver excellence in these difficult times?
Over the last two years, logistics has provided the backbone for enterprises as well as individuals not only helping to cope with the global health crisis and its impacts but also acting as a competitive advantage. For those willing to take the right steps, logistics has also helped them to thrive in the current circumstances.
While traditionally, the public and private sector work in collaboration as and when required, the pandemic has only provided further impetus to this joint system of working given the unprecedented situation. Our latest whitepaper, Revisiting Pandemic Resilience, focuses on the need for the private and public sectors to collaborate for future emergencies. Involving over 350 facilities globally, we have to date, distributed over 300 million doses of approved vaccines to more than 140 countries.
From where we stand today, multi-sector collaborations have enabled the vaccine distribution process globally, right from the Government level to private players to NGOs to individuals. With Covid-19 vaccines being produced five times faster than any other vaccine in history, these partnerships ensure effective distribution as well, especially in the current situation where speed and seamless services are the need of the hour.
As stated in the white paper, it is key that Governments and logistics players, as well as manufacturers, work hand-in-hand to help combat this public health crisis.
Technology over the years has taken centre stage. What steps have been taken by DHL to accelerate the development of technology-enabled logistics solutions in India?
As an industry leader, DHL Express India has always been at the forefront of technological innovations. The current situation, which has raised several concerns regarding the safety of employees and customers, further drove our efforts to harness the power of technology and accelerate our work towards DPDHL Group’s Strategy 2025 of ‘Delivering Excellence in a Digital World’.
During the pandemic, many customers expressed their reservations about signing the paper receipts and handheld devices. Thus, it became important for us (DHLE) to introduce paperless processes. In line with the same, we introduced the OTP-based non-contact deliveries that minimise surface contact between customers and our frontline workers.
SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
Given the new normal, we wanted to enhance our operations digitally by implementing chatbots to allow customers to conveniently voice out their concerns and have access to bite-sized shipping information so they can track shipments on the go. We have also deployed a chabot with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. The analytic algorithms of the IVR directly connect the customers with the associates without any waiting time. Through these automated processes, we can offer an On-Demand Delivery service to our customers either via SMS or email.
For effective paperless communication, we launched our world-class customer solution, MyDHL+ that offers visibility 24X7. We also rolled out the Electronic Shipping Solutions (ESS) that digitally handles customer bookings, shipping, verifications, and customs clearances. Furthermore, to make the process of billing error-free, we enabled ‘MyBill’.
The portal ensures 100% electronic payments with invoice presentment and supporting paperwork.
With increased focus on the digitalisation of businesses, our operations team is empowering and providing support and expertise to SMEs to kick start their e-commerce journey. For this initiative to be successful, DHLE has become its seller partners to enable a worldwide reach.
Throw some light on what infrastructural investments are been done by DHL to enhance India’s trade connectivity to the world and enable faster shipment processing to support trade growth?
Infrastructure investments are driven by the size and scale of business requirements and the expected tangible or intangible outcomes. With all necessary care and due diligence, we have maintained connectivity with the most extensive and reliable DHL Express international network. This was done with necessary flexing and daily tracking of demand forecast versus actual connections.
We have experienced an unprecedented surge in volumes whereby our local team managed to provide solutions with the highest level of excellence in service delivery despite the challenging external situation and curtailment of network connectivity options. We are also constructing a new gateway facility in Bangalore, India. Our on-ground investments continue to be focused on safety, network integrity, operations efficiency, and digitalisation for improved quality and reduced manual efforts.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made social distancing and contactless deliveries the new normal of operations. What safety investments are made by DHL to facilitate safe deliveries for its customers and a safe work environment for its employees (especially frontline workers)?
Being an essential service industry, one of our biggest challenges was keeping our employees and customers safe during the pandemic. While the logistics industry has been inching towards digitalisation, the pandemic has become a tipping point in the adoption of digitalised processes. Paperless processes, the use of digital tools at the facilities, etc. will enable minimum person-to-person contact, which is critical in containing the spread of the virus.
While working towards business continuity, logistics players must go all out to protect the heart of their operations – the frontline workers, to ensure their overall safety and wellbeing while undertaking operations in the field.
This would include managing the number of people per shift to ensure appropriate social distancing, etc. In the express industry, speed is critical but employee safety cannot be compromised in the bargain.
Today, DHL Express is the first international express service provider to implement an OTP-based non-contact delivery solution in India. Our IT and Operations team, Global Courier Application, and scanners on courier are fully in sync with the OTP-based feature to enable safe and compliant delivery of shipments to our customers.
In line with our ‘People First, Safety First’ philosophy, we continue to provide our frontline workers with the safest working environment. We ensure daily temperature checks, regular sanitation drives, proper social distancing in the vans in which our shipments go or come for deliveries, regular safety briefings, and reviews to support oversight on minimum safety requirements.
Note: This is an abridged version of the original interview that was published in the July issue of the Logistics Insider Magazine. To access the full article, get your e-copy of the magazine now!