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Revolution In The Indian Transport Market: The Shift Towards Digitalization

India is expected to soon go past the $3 trillion mark and advance towards the goal of becoming a $5 billion economy.

COVID-19 has brought about a major revolution in the way India has approached logistics. Transportation of goods has traditionally been a low-tech, unorganized and personal interactions-driven business, but the pandemic has forced truck operators to change their strategy from low-tech to low-touch. This trend of transformation has set the wheel rolling and the digitization of the Indian logistics market is now going to gather further momentum in the post pandemic years.

It is clear that even though the movement of goods was affected during the peaks of each wave and lockdown, it is not going to stop as supply chain continuation is essential for human survival and growth. The key need as felt by all stakeholders is that there has to be a greater value-generation within the transport sector. This change can come about with improvement in assets and productivity, reduction of costs and lowering wastage of resources due to inefficient and labour-heavy practices. Being a globally reputed source of IT and manpower, India is already well prepared for the digitization surge. Technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, robotics, automation and Internet of Things (IoT) are no longer alien to the Indian logistics landscape. In fact, it is their emergence and the benefits they offer that has further highlighted the glaring and unavoidable problems of conventional logistics operations.

In typical manual processes, there is an involvement of multiple stakeholders, and a lot of emphasis is given to paper-based transactions. These manual and paperwork-heavy processes consume a lot of time and effort which could easily be devoted to fleet operations and other such core needs of the transport sector, leading to greater revenue generation. Moreover, smart automation of such processes would bring about greater transparency, and eliminate the perennial problem of wrong calculations. AI-analytics driven technology can help in efficient route and capacity planning, seamless integration with different components of the logistics operations, delivering superior safety and customer experience, reduction of pilferage, better environmental performance and help with expansion into new markets.

The overall logistics industry in India is projected to touch the $215 billion mark by 2022. E-commerce has received a major boost due to the pandemic necessitating doorstep delivery of products and the government has also taken and planned various steps to promote digitization of the transport operations to make them more efficient, speedy and of high quality. Projects like Delhi-Mumbai expressway as well as various other infrastructure activities worth tens of billions of dollars are under various stages of planning and development.

To reap the benefits of all the infrastructure upgrades and the rising demand to remain competitive on a global scale, India has to bring down its logistics operations costs which is much higher than countries such as Australia, USA and Canada etc. This transformation to an efficient, streamlined, and integrated logistics ecosystem can be made possible only by digitization. The data-driven insights and automation of processes can help transporters save significant amounts of time and money. India is even witnessing the emergence of digital logistics marketplaces powered by AI, Machine Learning and Data Analytics. Many truckers and shippers are already using such platform-based services to do business in a seamless, touch-less and transparent manner. Technology is being used to smartly match vehicles with the consignments to ensure optimum utilization of fleets and also to deliver the desired service experience to the shippers.

Another major incentive to undertake digitization of logistics operations comes from the post-pandemic surge in need of greater transportation services and the governmental push for domestic manufacturing. The Make in India initiative is encouraging manufacturers to aggressively expand and install facilities across India in almost all industry verticals. These manufacturing industries are going to need specialized as well as affordable and efficient logistics support. This demand will only be fulfilled by digitization of transport operations in India. The interactions between transporters and shippers need to go completely digital and the need for efficiency has become even more critical in the face of rising fuel prices. Digital route planning, IoT and GPS based monitoring, introduction of green and smart vehicles etc., are going to play a much bigger role with each coming year.

In conclusion

India is expected to soon go past the $3 trillion mark and advance towards the goal of becoming a $5 billion economy. However, to make that happen, a technology-driven logistics evolution is essential as well as imminent. There will be an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and it will be driven by the digital upgrade of the Indian transportation sector!

Source: Business World

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