We are in 2020. Why are we still printing?

Technological solutions that were meant to accomplish one objective have the capability to solve problems that could not have been foreseen. It is a rare silver lining in the gloom that surrounds us but it is our responsibility to make the most of it. 

If the coronavirus lockdown has taught the world anything, it is to be prepared for uncertain times, of course that is much easier said than done, but necessary nevertheless. According to an article by the Financial Express, India is estimated to have suffered a GDP loss of around INR 8 trillion during the first three weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown. How is the supply chain supposed to sustain?

 The World Economic Forum has listed Supply Chain 4.0 as one of the ten top 10 technology trends to watch in the COVID-19 pandemic. Legacy systems that have lived beyond their lives would see their demise as the coronavirus has mandated the use of state-of-the-art technological solutions to make logistics services sustainable. The global manufacturing shock is a brutal check of the robustness of the logistics sector across industries.

The Promise and The Burden

 India’s manufacturing sector aspired to contribute 25% of the GDP share and 100 million new jobs by 2022. Close to having one of the world’s top five manufacturing sectors, India is looking to the sector to rehabilitate its economy. However, the onus also lies on the logistics sector to ensure that this rehabilitation does not come at the cost of a coronavirus relapse which will undermine the efforts of our medical community. The onus is on the logistics sector to help the manufacturing sector get back up on its feet while ensuring that the distancing measures are not compromised. 

What can be done?

Well, let’s start with invoicing. Invoice generation is a crucial element of the supply chain process. Any delays in communication and human errors can be significantly brought down by a formalized and simplified system which can act as a trust mechanism between two parties. The use of an electronic invoice generation system becomes even more relevant given the fact that all forms of communication between two parties have, more or less, shifted to a digital medium. Among the legacy systems to go, the erstwhile invoice generation methods would be among the first to be replaced by solutions provided by disruptive firms in the logistics space. Intugine Technologies provides this service to its clients, in addition to its flagship IntuTrack platform which offers end-to-end visibility of all supply chain processes.

How about Electronic Proof of Deliveries?

Given the stress on hygiene and security and the fact that shorter cash conversion cycles are the need of the hour, enterprises are also moving to replace paper-based documents to avoid physical contact, maintain social distancing and eliminate the time and logistics required for transporting documents. This is quite understandable, and sticking to the same lines, the logistics sector in India could see a large-scale adoption of electronic Proof of Delivery (ePod) systems which minimizes human contact during delivery and drop-off. With the aim of reducing credit cycles, ePoD has already accomplished its goal of improving supply chain efficiency. However, today it can play a more important role in enabling social distancing while ensuring that the economy can resume operations. By using ePoD systems, logistics companies can make a strong case of industrial lockdown relaxation.

Although the importance of digital document processing solutions is more than ever today, systems that haven’t been tested on the field might not be the best way to implement. Tried and tested solutions exist in the market, and act as safer bets. Additionally, these digitised solutions can have value-added features to link data seamlessly to the client’s ERP software or to the entire suite of services being offered.

The Prodigal Son

Multiple startups are rushing to launch versions of ePoD systems amidst increased demand. Intugine has been among the few ventures to already have experience in providing this feature to its clients. Serving reputed names such as Duroflex and PI Industries with its e-POD system, Intugine could be one of the technology companies to facilitate the re-growth of the manufacturing and logistics sector of India.

The Most Important Question: Is this the right time?

The question facing the logistics sector has transitioned from ‘If the companies will adopt technology?’ to ‘When will companies adopt technology?’ 

Digital transformation in companies will focus on new end-to-end customer journeys and we will see an increase in adoption of automation in manufacturing industries

Aarthi Subramaniam,
Chief Digital Officer at Tata Sons

While the logistics sector faces the expected dip in demand for services, technology logistics startups continue working round the clock because their importance in these has become evident. Collaborations like that of Microsoft and FedEx to provide improved shipping solutions with IoT technology have put the transportation and logistics sector on notice. Such disruptive partnerships are the way forward as India looks at its own disruptive ecosystem to adapt to the pandemic.

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