Road Transport to Dominate Logistics Sector

Anil Bhatia, VP – Sales & Marketing, TIL Limited
Naresh Agarwal, MD, Nimbus Logistics, shares his views on ways that can boost the specialized transport industry, and discloses his company’s expansion plans and targeted growth, during a discussion with Maria R.

What is your view of the Indian logistics and specialized transport industry in the wake of infrastructure development of metro rails, refineries, wind power etc, and implementation of GST?

The heavy lift and transport industry’s majority revenue comes from Infrastructure, Oil and Gas, and Power industries. Any development undertaken, or investments made in these industries directly impact our industry. In recent years, there has been a substantial investment in Metro Projects and Renewable Energy Projects, which have greatly helped our industry to grow, and also attracted many new entrants.

Going ahead, I am very optimistic about the developments in the Renewable Energy Sector. As the world is transitioning to electric cars, in the coming decades, we will have to make huge investments in solar and wind projects to shift to a carbon-free economy. This will provide a major boost to the heavy transport industry.

Road, Rail or Air: which transport segment is the major growth driver for the Indian logistics Industry?

Road transport has been and will continue to be the dominant sector unless some huge steps are undertaken to promote the railway sector. The cost for road transportation is 65% of freight, while for railways, it is a mere 25%. The challenges hampering the growth of rail transport is the need to combine it with road transport, and lack of freight trains. On major routes, freight trains need to be increased and this can be done either by increasing the speed of the trains, or increasing the packing efficiency of the trains on a given route, keeping safety in check (using advanced safety control devices and automation), thereby minimizing the capex on laying new tracks, and getting high ROI.

The government needs to promote RoRo trains on smaller routes to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Currently, there are only a few routes that provide this facility. Today, Rail has an advantage over Road in terms of efficiency, and hence cost, but with the advent of electric mobility and autonomous vehicles, in the coming decades the advantage of the Railways over Roads will shrink further. This, combined with the government’s lack of efforts in promoting the railway sector, makes me believe that the Road Transport sector will be the dominant sector in the coming decades as well.

On the other hand, air cargo is seeing high demand in the e-commerce driven market, due to its high speed and reliable service. But innovation is also happening in the road transport sector driven by companies like Rivigo, which has managed to cut short the travel time of road transport, while increasing consistency and reliability. With such innovations, the Road Transport segment is able to hold its own against the highly expensive air cargo as well.

Nimbus Logistics Super ODC Transportation

What is your take on the government’s mega project Sagarmala? Will it be a game-changer for the logistic sector, once completed?

Sagarmala is an ambitious and a much-needed development being undertaken by the government. The GDP contribution of the Logistics sector has to go down to the tune of 10% to compete with developed super powers like USA and China. The Sagarmala project aims to take advantage of our huge coastline and our key placement on international trade routes, and to increase our infrastructure capacity to handle high freight volumes with reduced turnaround times. This will provide a huge boost to the Indian manufacturing industries and exports. With the Make in India program, the Logistics sector is poised to enjoy substantial benefits from successful implementation owing to the expected high growth in in-house manufacturing and reduced costs for imports and exports.

What, according to you, is the success factor in a logistics company?

Success in a logistics company depends on a lot of factors working together to provide the most reliable and cost-efficient service. The most important factor in our industry of Project Logistics is the crew. The final service is provided by our crew and to have a supportive, well-trained and experienced crew is the difference between exceptional and mediocre service. We strive to provide impeccable service to each and every client.

Our drivers, supervisors and mechanics have been with our company for more than two decades. Our crew intake takes place from the lower rankings of cleaners and they are trained in-house to become drivers, operators and supervisors. We have a low attrition rate, and this, I believe, is what separates us from the majority of players in the industry.
Rail has an advantage over Road in terms of efficiency and cost, but with the advent of electric mobility and autonomous vehicles, the advantage of the Railways over Roads will shrink.

Please share a challenging and critical project undertaken by Nimbus Logistics?

We have executed many challenging projects in the last three decades. A recent job undertaken by us was a tank weighing 175 tons, and measuring 18.5 x 5.2 x 5.3 meters, which had to be transported from Trichy to Kolkata. The tank was transported over 12 Rows Hydraulic Modular Trailer. Enroute, we had to dismantle 24 highway sign boards, obtain multiple shutdowns, and lift more than 30 high voltage lines.

We conducted a route survey to finalize the route with minimum obstacles. The major challenge was to get the consignment to the site in Kolkata. There is a dense network of railway lines in Kolkata and to locate a route which minimized the railway crossings while taking care the roads are wide enough to maneuver such a large consignment, was a formidable task. To get to the final site, we had to construct a temporary approach road.

We deployed our most experienced and talented crew for the job. Inspite of the challenging nature of the task, the whole project was completed within the scheduled timeframe. Our vehicle was assisted with an escort vehicle, and the Hydraulic Trailer was fitted with GPS, which enabled us to keep the client updated through regular emails.
In the next three years we plan to triple our fleet size and increase our revenue ten-fold.

What does the Nimbus Logistics fleet of vehicles and equipment comprise of, and what applications does the company cover?

Nimbus Logistics owns an in-house fleet of Hydraulic Modular Trailers, Pullers, Semi-Low and Low Bed Trailers and specialized attachments for HMTs, enabling us to handle a variety of Over Dimensional and Heavy Cargo. Our focus is on serving the Infrastructure, Oil and Gas, and Power Generation Industries. We handle many types of Oversize cargo like Metro Coaches, Railway Locomotives, Bullets, Columns, Vessels, Heavy Power Transformers, Turbine Blades and Nacelles, Odd Dimensioned Boats, Construction equipment like Piling Rigs, Tunnel Boring Machines, etc.

For ODC movement, productivity, reliability and safety are quite important factors; how do you see modular trailer manufacturers (Indian or multinational) providing you advance and cost-effective solutions?

It is true that ODC movement relies heavily on the availability of state-of-the-art equipment to execute the projects with greater safety and reliability. International companies like TII are supporting our industry with the latest equipment, and enabling us to provide services that compete with international Heavy Transport companies. Indian companies are also providing cost- effective solutions, thereby maintaining a competitive market, which benefits the industry.

Multimodal Transportation on a Barge and Hydraulic Axles - Nimbus Logistics

What is your vision and action plan for 2020?

We aim to undertake more challenging projects in the coming years, increasing our experience and capability. We are also focusing on working on more multimodal projects to make us better suited to handle complex projects with increased cost efficiency. In the next three years we plan to triple our fleet size and increase our revenue ten-fold.

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