IoT, analytics help Safexpress gain 30 percent efficiency in HUB operations

From roping in IoT solutions to harnessing analytics to revamping its ERP – tech is the prime mover behind Safexpress’ success story.

Providing value-added logistics for nine different industry verticals, Safexpress has been a market leader in the supply chain and logistics space for over two decades now predominantly a B2B company. 

Case File

Technology leveraged: ERP, Oracle Management Cloud, Application Performance Management.

Benefits derived:

Oracle’s solution on the cloud monitors the database instances and visually points out the instances that are about to choke or resources will see a spike.

This helps in proactive intervention and sort things out, even before the user starts experiencing performance issues.

For the financial ERP, Safexpress partnered with Oracle to incorporate GST.

The man spearheading the logistics giant’s digital drive – Kapil Mahajan, CIO, gives us an in-depth view of the technologies deployed and the transformation it brought about.

Mahajan states that technology plays the most important role in the company’s operations, and is essential in helping them stay ahead of the curve. In terms of connectivity, Safexpress has the biggest reach in India. It is also the only Indian logistics company that has a functional disaster recovery center with active BCP strategy.

“At the beginning of the year, we started our CAMSS journey (that's Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, and Security). We created a roadmap around each of these five pillars and discussed how to move our existing technology stack to fit into this roadmap," says Mahajan.

How IoT and analytics sped up delivery operations

Last year, Safexpress rolled out 100 percent barcoding, so all its shipments are scanned through the entire journey – right from the pick-up point to the final destination. The process of loading and unloading is recorded on scanners, and the data is communicated in real time.

Mahajan explains that as a business rule, no material should lie in a hub for more than 24 hours. Earlier, auditing was done on a manual basis, and this did not include real-time information, in addition to being inaccessible by the corporate staff in different offices.

One of the technologies rolled out to tackle this problem was a platform called HOG (Hub On the Go). The solution takes Safexpress’ IoT platform, which is a mix of online scanners and GPS inputs from its 4000+ vehicles and merges the two inputs to give a visual dashboard to the operations team.

The HOG platform can also point out if an item is lying in the wrong aisle and flags an alert indicating the item's actual destination. The dashboard also gives a view of how many vehicles are about to arrive in the next hour; the loaded capacity of the vehicles; the goods that have to be collected, and if they fit into the vehicle.

“We found that the average time between a delivery vehicle reaching the premise to the first scan was between four to eight hours. Post implementation, the average time has been cut down to two hours,” reveals Mahajan.

He adds that the company observed an increase in efficiency in the range of 25-30 percent. “We've also been able to optimize the number of staff needed for operations. With data, we were able to show that the same number of people we can manage higher throughputs and deliver more efficiently,” says Mahajan.

“At the beginning of the year, we started our CAMSS journey (that's Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, and Security). We created a roadmap around each of these five pillars and discussed how to move our existing technology stack to fit into this roadmap.”

Kapil Mahajan

                                                     Kapil Mahajan, CIO, Safexpress

With respect to ERP, Mahajan states that the prime focus is on how to build a micro-services based architecture, and that is the key part of Safexpress’ new ERP design.

Challenges faced by the logistics industry today

Mahajan believes that the biggest challenge faced by the industry right now is disruption and the challenge posed by GST. He says that the downside of it is that there's nothing stopping UPS or FedEx to come to India with an unlimited supply of money and wipe out the other players in the market.

He firmly believes that it is technology that could really make a difference and help companies stay competitive.

“We design our technology roadmap in a way where we don't try to build everything from a scratch; we leverage platforms for the new age technologies like AI and ML working with some of the big technology partners in that space. Minimum human intervention is the core underlying motive for our technology roadmap since it will improve accuracy and speed in the system,” he adds.

“We've also been able to optimize the number of staff needed for operations. With data, we were able to show that with the same number of people we can manage higher throughputs and deliver more efficiently.”

With a lot of connected devices, security is proving to be a major problem for the business, but Mahajan says that there are ways to manage it. He says: “We're covered to a large extent owing to the Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network that we ride on, and by having a strong control around the exposed public IP’s and URL’s none of which expose our core systems directly which are running behind layers of security.”

The current transformation going in the organization is on redesigning the entire core network backbone to work on SD WAN capability and auto failovers with redundancy built in which is critical to enable all future digitalization and technology innovations.

Mahajan concludes by saying that it's imperative to keep up with the threats that are out there and upgrade your systems at a faster pace.