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IT Edge in Logistics

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CIOL Bureau
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INDIA:

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Tell us about some major technology investments at your enterprise?

Blue Dart's technology solutions have played a key role in its premium positioning and in bringing global standards to the doorstep of Indian customers. Such has been the ramifications of these offerings that more than 79% of Blue Dart's regular customers use it actively. Home grown innovations like the COSMAT II (the tracking and ERP system), TrackDart (monitoring shipment status), MailDart (tracking shipments over e-mail), InternetDart (memory bank for shipments), PackTrack (tracking software for medium and large customers), ShopTrack (tracking and CRM tool for e-business portals), ImageDart (online download of proof of delivery challans/documents, to speed up the customer's bill process, waybill issuance capability, customer directory, data upload and download of tracking information), among others have enabled the weaving of thoughtful information management to the logistics business.

For time-critical business needs, customers can now avail of a door-to-door, time-definite delivery. These services are currently available in selected cities and are backed by a money-back guarantee. The company also aggressively launched a slew of new products and services like the Domestic Express Pallet on air- and Dart SurfaceLine Plus, and an advanced technology, called On-the-Move (OTM), which has strengthened shipment visibility.

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Any overhauls of significant scale or value at your enterprise?

The focus is on enhancing the automation processes already in place for tracking of our customer’s packages, and a lot of work has gone into designing the framework wherein we are looking at deploying relevant technologies which will help us meet the growth in volumes. We are going all-out on arming our frontline staff with hand held devices (OTM) which are supporting the pickup and delivery processes of our company. This year we would be looking at covering a substantial number of our frontline staff and providing them rugged handheld devices. With centralization of our critical applications, one area we are working on is enhancing the technologies which we are using for bandwidth optimization. 

What’s your strategy for the coming future?

Consistent delivery of new IT-based solutions is a key pursuit of the company and for this Blue Dart has a strong IT team. This is one area where we never make any compromise. We are in the process of rolling out of our new track and trace system. The existing track and trace system on an older platform which was a decentralised operational structure. As against this the new-age application will provide service on a centralised basis. 

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Areas of interest from recent tech-breakthroughs?

Logistics, like any other business today’s world remains highly dependent on IT not only to obtain an edge over competition but to keep pace harnessing the best technology and services can offer to the customers. Information technology and information-focused capabilities have increasingly been viewed as key factors of performance. Blue Dart has always been at the forefront in terms of technological advancements.

Over the last few years, we have introduced the OTM (On the Move) machines, WDL (Weight Dimension Labelling) machines and the Smart Truck.

OTM: The introduction of mobile devices in our system has revolutionized the entire process of delivery of customer documents or parcels to a great extent. This has indeed strengthened the trust and faith entrusted in us by our customers and also increased the efficiency of our couriers.

Some of the advantages of the On The Move (OTM) machine are:

-The courier boys do not have to remember special instructions while handling deliveries as they are prompted by the programme thus eliminating chances of errors.

-Instead of carrying delivery sheet paper printouts, they have all the information on the device and the signature of the recipient is taken on the device itself.

-Delivery & Attempt Date/Time is auto fed resulting in faster delivery per route and more deliveries per person.

-Instant information feedback to the shipper and to our customer service.

-GPS data gathered enables route optimisation thereby saving cost of operations.

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The OTM machine has brought about an array of changes in the process efficiency at Blue Dart, some of it being advanced capabilities, lower cost and ubiquitous access, others are:-

-Tracking mileage

-Measuring driver/field worker performance

Interacting with back-end systems (e.g. CRM — customer relationship management, payroll, etc.)

-Managing scheduling and routing

-Field boy’s feel equipped with information on the touch of their figure

-Ensure perfect delivery and avoid financial losses to both customer and Blue Dart. The OTM is incorporated with all the information related to the security items for delivering the shipment.

What has happend with WDL?

Yes. Another critical process differentiation has been the introduction of WDL machines at the gateway points. With growing volumes, expeditious measurement of dimensions of cargo has emerged as a key challenge. WDL is a cutting edge technological solution. At the gateway points, on the conveyor belt, these machines would be installed that would capture the boxes while on the move.

Tell us something about the Smart Truck concept?

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In August 2011, Blue Dart piloted the Smart Truck in Bangalore, an “intelligent” pick-up and delivery vehicle that computes delivery deadlines to calculate the ideal sequence for shipments, and use real-time GPS to avoid jams and optimise routings, thereby enabling flexibility and last-minute pick-ups. This allows the Smart Truck to spend more time on the road to perform their pick-up and delivery services. The Smart Truck technology also enables a more efficient sorting process by synchronizing the data and physical flow, while real-time communications and visibility of services avoid ‘missed’ pickups and delayed deliveries. Together, this provides better customer service and a more cost-effective operation as a result of optimum use of vehicles with less wasted miles.

IT is as a competitive differentiator at your organization - How?

Blue Dart has been the only Indian Air Express Company that has invested extensively in Technology infrastructure to create differentiated delivery capabilities, quality services and customised solutions for the customer. We have one of the largest private computer networks in India, with over 4,900 computer terminals connected on MPLS VPN, leased lines and Microwave links. Our E-mail is accessed at 211 locations daily by over 3,755 users. We also employ wireless, mobile telephones, radio sets and pagers extensively to enhance our communication speed and connectivity with our troops on the field. Our Customer Service Cell is equipped with Automated Call Distribution Systems (ACDs) to provide quick response and support to our customers.

We are the only Indian express company to have indigenously developed COSMAT II, which includes an advanced state-of-the-art track and trace system for all our consignments. Consignments are scanned from pick up to every transit point till delivery, using bar coding and laser scanner technology, transmitting updates automatically to our Oracle database. This enables our customers to receive real-time, complete and accurate information about their consignments.

For our aviation system, our in-house team has developed SMART (Space Management Allocation Reservations and Tracking) for effective space and revenue management.