SIAM conclave highlights opportunities for multi-modal transportation

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) held its two-day sixth SIAM Automotive Logistics Conclave, themed at ‘Automotive Logistics – Need for Optimisation of Resources’, in New Delhi. The event highlighted various opportunities for multi-modal transportation along with innovations that lie ahead for automotive logistics.

The inaugural session on concluding day, on ‘Railways – Opportunities Ahead’ was chaired by R S Kapoor, Vice President, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. “Rail volumes have increased. We have set an ambitious target of allocating 30 percent of volume by trains in the next five years. Despite several initiatives being taken up to improve rail growth, many factors are hampering the growth of the same, like low turn-around time, lack of adequate infrastructure in maintaining AFTOs, etc. As almost 21 percent of our rakes are in down-time always due to low maintenance of infrastructure, we should work upon improving our rakes to increase productivity.”

Monica Agnihotri, Executive Director (Freight Marketing), Railway Board said, “Despite the slowdown in the automobile sector (production and sales), there is an increase of 22 percent in loading and 26 percent in railway’s earnings from this sector during April to June 2019 as compared to the same period last year. There is a plan to convert more NMG rakes on priority, a newer, efficient and more versatile design of auto-carriers is in the pipeline. There will be a reduction in the first-mile cost by the construction of railway siding inside the manufacturing unit and procurement of 39 rakes by various operators under AFTO scheme is on a fast-track mode.”

K Uma Maheshwar Rao, IRS, Joint General Manager, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. said, “Presently, Indian railways and roads constitute a heavily loaded network for transportation of freight. To reduce this burden, Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, which will run from Ludhiana, Punjab to Dankuni, West Bengal, and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, which will connect Ludhiana to Mumbai, is under construction.” He further stated, “The dedicated freight corridor will transport goods at an average speed of 75 km/hr. Thus, helping to reduce the turn-around time, so much so that a rake loaded in Mumbai in the morning will reach Dadri the same day or next morning. This is a silent revolution in logistics which is happening in our country. After 10 years, there will be a lot of seamless integration of Indian railways, dedicated freight corridors- Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMICDC) & Amritsar Delhi Kolkata Industrial Corridor (ADKIC), and other freight terminals.”

Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Additional Secretary, Minister of Shipping, GoI, said, “As per a study conducted by Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the ministry, there is a major movement of cars from the production units in North to South and vice-versa. 40% of the car movement takes place between North to South and vice versa. We are wasting a lot of money on logistics which could have been utilised to buy assets for logistics. A cost-analysis was conducted for road, railways and coastal logistics; coastal costs were high due to the non-usage of vessels for car transportation. We have identified congestion areas on Pune and Mumbai sites and work has been started to reduce the same. The congestion issue can be tackled and productivity can be increased if more vehicles can be loaded on the containers/vessels.”

Shashi Bhushan Shukla, Member (Traffic), Inland Waterways Authority of India said, “They are presently working on NW-1 on Ganga and the Varanasi Terminal was inaugurated by the Honourable PM recently. NW-2 on the Brahmaputra is also operational, offering connectivity to the Pandu and Mogla for North East and exports to Bangladesh. Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route connects NW-1 with NW-2 and NW-16, thus providing alternate connectivity between North-East and Bangladesh.”

D K Rai, Director, Chep India explained, “We need to deploy small but innovative practices to bring in optimization. Adhering to standardisation, identifying opportunities to collaborate and prioritising sustainability are the steps to go about it. The starting point can be making the inbound supply chain more efficient by introducing the systemization of packaging.”

The panel also deliberated on logistics and supply-chain management at connected platforms as a way to bring inefficiency. The speakers discussed providing solutions on tracking the goods in a supply chain on a real-time basis using tools like IoT, GPS and advanced software.

The concluding session talked about the opportunities, challenges and future of automotive logistics. Despite immense challenges and slowdown faced by the sector, the automotive sector in India still stands at a strong position worldwide. The session touched upon the future of electric vehicles, need for sustainability, mission to plant a million trees (the carbon tons saved in shifting to rail mode from road is equivalent to having planted a million trees) and skilling of drivers. According to reports, by 2025, electric two-wheelers are expected to account for 34.5 percent of all two-wheeler sales in India while electric buses will make up 25 percent of all buses sold.

Tarun Garg, Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki India, said, “Developments have to be in line with the environmental needs. There needs to be a driver training school that imparts proper training and licenses to the drivers. With the majority of start-ups coming up in the Logitech sector, we need to come together and support them. This is not an additional cost but future investment.”

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