LogisticsNow, an Indian company with expertise to organise the logistics industry using the power of data science has produced a report titled– ‘The COVID-19 War: How India can win faster leveraging its supply chains and logistics?’ to share insight on how logistics and information technology can work in tandem to minimise the economic impact in the wake of COVID-19.
Highlighting the use of advanced technology that can be used for managing pandemics and emergencies in the future, the report suggests:
- Building artificial intelligence (AI) powered citizen information systems (CIS): Use of multiple data sources like image recognition, data feeds from millions of cameras, social media feeds, online payment/transaction data, etc. powered by cohesive AI algorithms to identify and pro-actively isolate touch points of infected patients as was done in China. Such CIS systems would be our insurance policy if another pandemic breaks out in the future.
- Building digital supply chains and logistics: India created the India stack for payments, resulting in the digital payments revolution unprecedented in our history. A similar digital logistics revolution based on the “logistics stack” is required in our supply chains and transportation to power our supply chains with intelligence, visibility and agility.
- Mandating and further driving digital payments: The India stack was a great start and as a majority of payments become online, the data generated, in sync with CIS and Digital Supply Chains, will be a critical part to identify trends including spread of pandemics before they become evident and keep citizens safe.
Additionally, the report sheds light on the logistics situation in India at the grassroots level, and points out key recommendations that can aid the fight against COVID-19 as well as support the economy.
- Unlock Inventories for Retail Consumers: Inventories of essentials goods, already in transit, in warehouses or with distributors, has to be unlocked immediately. While it will take time for manufacturing and transport to get back on track from the initial disruption, local inventories available with distributors can be moved quickly to the retail network.
- Build/Re-build Transport Capacity: Transport capacities have been disrupted by stranded trucks and a lot of drivers were left without basic amenities. There is a need for thousands of trained drivers/ trucks to move essential supplies. Options including the Army Supply Corps (ASC), Indian Railways, CONCOR, Freight Marketplaces, and Freight Intelligence networks along with large fleet owners/truckers who can provide transport capacity from long haul to the last mile, need to be aligned quickly.
- Vaccine Distribution Capacity: World over, scientists are working at a furious pace to discover a vaccine for COVID -19. A plan needs to be in place to ensure when it is ready to be distributed to the mass communities, transporting it to the farthest districts can only be accomplished by planning in advance and executing rapidly. An unprecedented level of planning is of utmost importance and public-private partnership can create a rapid COVID-19 vaccination program to save lives.
The report also highlights concerns raised by prominent industry leaders in the logistics and transportation space:
- 50% + of India’s (organised long haul) trucking fleet is stranded without drivers.
- Local (short haul) transport, though less impacted, is working with reduced capacities.
- Trucks (including those carrying essentials) are still stuck for reasons including want of labour to load/unload, check-posts, etc.
- Railways is stepping up and serving a few sectors, but the gap is large, with first-mile and last-mile being a challenge.
Raj Saxena, Founder and CEO of LogisticsNow said, “The logistics network nationally, from long haul to last-mile, has been impacted and the lack of available logistics capacities and planning is likely to impact essential supplies and the common man.”
“We have to act now,” Saxena stressed.