Revolutionising the logistics environment with Visibility and Transparency

Formed to effectively leverage ICTs across the Indian logistics sector and work towards bringing efficiency in the supply chain, NICDC Logistics Data Services (NLDS) with its flagship product ‘Logistics Data Bank (LDB)’ brings visibility and transparency to the country’s logistics environment, streamlines operations across the supply chain and helps the government improve Ease of Doing Business in India.

Ichiro Oshima, CEO & Director, NLDS, in this special interview, highlights not only the various advantages of leveraging LDB but also updates us on the process of integrating LDB with the e-sealing process of Customs and sheds some light on the importance of technology in handling unforeseen situations like the pandemic.

As India continues its fight against the pandemic, what is the role of technology in averting the delay in shipments of emergency medical equipment and cargo at ports?

The logistics sector plays a crucial role in any nation’s development story. Logistics Industry was in the recovery stage, but we stuck with the second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021. The importance of medical shipments was not given in the 1st wave as against what we have seen in the second wave. As the acute shortage of life-saving cargoes was noticed, the Indian Government has started importing the requisite lifesaving cargos from other counties and directed all major ports to waive off the charges related to vessel, storage, etc and give prioritise for berthing of a vessel bringing liquid oxygen cylinders and cryogenic tanks. 

During the COVID situation, most of the shipping companies offered their online platform to their customers to attach the requisite set of documents like Bill of Entry, invoice packing list, etc., so that manual interference is avoidable. Secondly, with the help of the LDB portal and with available information provided by Port Terminals, the customers could track the shipments on a real-time basis and could request the particular stakeholder to clear the container at the earliest. Thirdly, port procedures and customs procedures need to be simplified using technology so that manual interference could be avoided.

How has Logistics Data Bank helped increase efficiency, decrease dwell time, and make a noteworthy reduction in carbon emission?

Indian government is building physical infrastructure and IT infrastructure to increase efficiency and reduce logistics cost to 9% from the current 14%, thereby leading to saving to the tune of INR 3.3 Lakh crore. LDB is assisting in reducing logistics costs as it provides End-to-End visibility in the network, better handshaking with stakeholders (Port and Railways, Railways, and ICD), Bottleneck Analysis, and Performance Benchmarking to increase competitiveness and inculcate kaizen (continuous improvement). While the government is building the physical infrastructure like Dedicated Freight Corridors, Multi-Modal Logistics Hub, National Highways, Industrial Corridors, etc., there is relatively low IT penetration resulting in operational inefficiencies,. Transport and logistics and solutions like LDB are helping leverage the physical infrastructure.

Reduction in lead time and transaction cost as a result of predictability and optimisation achieved through LDB would attract companies to open up new manufacturing units, thereby attracting more employment and development of the Indian economy. It also promotes a modal shift from truck to rail transport, which will eventually contribute to improving the environmental condition of India by helping reduce the carbon footprint in India.

“AI is set to change the game in terminal operations” reads an NLDS tweet. How can AI redefine terminal operations and help respond to volatile conditions such as the pandemic with ease?

The future of terminal operations is based on AI. Many ports like Rotterdam, Hamburg, Singapore, etc. are already using it as a tool to improve terminal operations. Based on AI inputs, port terminals can easily predict the arrival of the vessel, container, requirement of trucks, and an approximate time to complete the port planning and operations.

AI is just a predictive kind of model and it is ideal to use it in ports and terminals. It analyses the historical data and gives the prediction for the upcoming work and it can bring supply chain stakeholders together. If AI is merged with the Terminal Operating System, then all the stakeholders like Port Authorities, Importers, Exporters, shipping lines, CHAs, freight forwarders can align their work accordingly instead of waiting for other instructions.

Note: This is an abridged version of the complete interview that was published in the June Issue of Logistics Insider magazine.

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