Now when many countries have removed lockdown, the journey to recovery has started to begin. But still, the international warehousing industry is facing challenges to keep the business going amid these uncertain times, even as ports get clogged with cargo. Praveen Vashistha, Founder & Director, Gxpress talks about how logistics companies are struggling post-COVID-19 regulations.
The logistics market has exploded as people in lockdown turned to the internet to make their purchases. Not only did volumes grow but the profile of goods being shipped changed, with more consumers ordering on the various online platforms increased. Major corporations have fast-tracked their growth and development plans, growing rapidly and making substantial investments to cope with demand in e-commerce, people and the properties.
COVID-19 has helped to accelerate the roll-out and amplified the impact of certain interventions. Contactless and unattended deliveries such as trunk deliveries, parcel lockers and boxes will gain momentum. Many interventions like these can boost short-term customer confidence and remain relevant in the next normal as customers seek their added convenience. The logistics players will be benefited from reduced delivery costs.
Many top technologies driven logistics players in India who concentrate on truck loading more than 800 km of transport have their truckers waiting for a long period of time at these warehouses to unload critical freight. Port warehouses of many essential commodities have remained open in few areas in southern India; lack of labour is posing a challenge in functioning. In many states of the country, even essential commodities holding warehouses remain shut due to lack of labour. No storage facility is there; only contractors are supplied essentially daily to the market. There is no storage of any essentials at any warehouses, less than one-third of operations are taking place as just about one to two ships are berthing at the port. Due to no labour available, the Container Freight Station (CFS) facility at the port is hardly operational.
At this point, many logistics players have become more effective at communicating with customers about the precise time of arrival and options to change delivery arrangements. To monitor a package’s condition and the location at every stage, logistics companies can predict any disruption and when external data sources are integrated about traffic or weather, together with machine learning, then routes can be changed in real-time. Rapid drops in the prices of sensor technology are creating a boom in these intelligent supply chain technologies and the use of data. This big data related to the market is overlaid with powerful analytics and machine learning, companies can then use it to track, optimise and predict their operations. In order to optimise productivity and even model complex supply networks, it can track and modify the flow of goods; and it can exchange knowledge and work more closely with clients and other collaborators.
Transforming the last mile
In today’s time, many logistics providers have stepped up to the challenge of making deliveries safer for employees and customers. Contactless last-mile delivery solutions have been crucial to the industry’s post COVID-19 time. In the logistics market, the last-mile delivery of goods constitutes around 30 per cent of the cost, optimising that element is on the critical path, especially as retailers are increasingly positioning many products to reduce long-line haul and increase last-mile volumes. Usage of drones for making deliveries is starting to emerge, these are subject to local laws and regulations and take-up is still relatively slow. Companies using smart locker solutions for safe, convenient, contactless pick-ups are growing significantly.