Gateway Distriparks - Taking a Tech First Approach

Gateway Distriparks Limited
Gateway Distriparks Limited is amongst the top companies to have played a frontline role in steering the country’s logistics industry with its tech-driven innovations and advancements in technology, including digitalization. Ishaan Gupta, JMD, Gateway Distriparks, elaborates on the core-competitiveness and project management strategies of the company that are driving its growth.

What benefits will the National Logistics Policy bring to the logistic sector?
The National Logistics Policy will help with faster creation of logistics infrastructure, both from public and private sector investments. This will bring down the overall cost of logistics in the country to make us more competitive in international trade. Projects such as Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) will help in shifting from road transportation to multimodal, which will further bring down costs and reduce the reliability on petrol, as longer distance transportation is more viable via rail, with only first and last mile connected by road.

How did you structure high-performance teams and tech-driven innovation internally and adapt to the various scenarios during the tough (Covid) times to get businesses going?
We were classified under essential services during the pandemic, and we provided uninterrupted services throughout the lockdown to our customers. We have always believed in using technology to the fullest extent for improving efficiencies in our operations, so we did not have to make any new changes for adapting to the pandemic situation as all capabilities were already built into our systems and processes.

What is the scope of your capabilities with regard to your dedicated facilities like Warehouses, Container Freight Stations (CFS), and Inland Container Depots (ICD)?
We have three verticals in the company: Rail, CFS, and Cold Chain, through which we offer a variety of services to our customers, such as rail transportation from our ICDs to & fro the Western maritime ports, ICDs with modern facilities for handling containers, bonded & transit warehousing, first and last mile road transportation, CFS services at multiple ports, temperature-controlled storage and distribution, and many value-added services.

We design customised solutions for managing the supply chain of our customers across India with our network of 4 ICD, 5 CFS, 31 Train-Sets, 500+ Trailers, Cold Storage Facilities in 17 cities, and 250+ Refrigerated Vehicles.

Break bulk cargo transport requires that a number of uncertainties be well managed to mitigate risk of damage, missed key connections, and accrued delay penalties. How efficiently have you strategized and aligned the process of cargo movement management?
We provide customers with containerised transportation of cargo, which helps them reduce handling costs, damages, and more efficient supply chain planning for international trade (both export and import). Further, we work with all the shipping lines to provide empty containers at our facilities to customers at lower costs.

We impart regular training to our drivers and empower them to make independent decisions to solve issues on a real time basis. They are also supported by our command centre which monitors the entire fleet 24x7x365 and is in constant communication for proactive assistance.

Chief Commercial Officer

Advancements in automation and digitalization will have a profound impact on the logistics workforce; how do you see GDL’s approach towards digital technologies?
We have a tech first approach at GDL and have always been at the forefront in our respective verticals to adopt new technologies and evaluate innovative solutions on a continuous basis. Not only does this improve efficiency and provide more visibility into the various metrics that drive our business, but also help reduce logistics and transaction costs for our customers, and create an environment for sustainable operations.

For example, we use RFID for automating our container yard planning and movements; we have developed an in-house platform for refrigerated truck fleet aggregation; we were the first rail operator to partner with Trade Lens for block chain-based supply chain management. There are countless such examples. We will continue to explore new innovations as part of our core strategy.

Please tell us about your fleet of equipment and vehicles. Do you plan to acquire new cranes and trailers for ODC?
We currently have a fleet of over 500 trailers for providing first and last mile connectivity and 31 train-sets that can run on the full Indian Railways network including the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). In terms of equipment, we have 43 Reach Stackers, 20 Hydra Cranes, 68 Forklifts, and other equipment like Empty Container Handlers, JCB Machines, Loaders, and Reach Forklifts.

We continue to invest in new equipment as and when we expand our footprint to new facilities, such as our newly announced ICD in Jaipur (currently under construction), for catering to the increasing volumes at our existing locations, and for our regularly planned replacements.

What is the company’s core-competitiveness and project management strategies? Please give an instance of a challenging and critical project undertaken by GDL.
Our core competitiveness lies in creating modern quality infrastructure at the right locations, keeping technological innovations in mind, and providing ample capacities ahead of demand, so that we can enable growth and scalability for our customers.

By creating a vast network of ICD, CFS, Cold Storages, and all related infra supported by an ample number of equipment and fleet of vehicles, we are able to provide pan India services for customers to reach any part of the country. For example, a very critical factor that has played a pivotal role in our growth is the fact that our ICDs have a hub & spoke network, which can combine double stack routes and DFC routes for all other locations, giving customers a cost advantage as well as more efficient services.

What significant changes and developments are you expecting for the country’s logistics industry over the next five years?
Most importantly, development of the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) that are nearing construction, will help bring down the country's logistics cost, plus, with the focus on the logistics sector by the government, development of multimodal logistics parks will be faster, thereby improving India's export-competitiveness in international markets. Technology will also play a key role with better tracking and visibility of supply chains.

How would you compare the project logistics landscape of India with other Asian countries?
India has a much higher reliance on road transportation vis a vis rail transportation compared to other countries. Also, the level of containerisation is lower than other Asian countries, but it is improving year on year. These two factors will change over the next few years, and contribute towards a lower cost of logistics.
Lifting & Specialzed Transport, November - December 2022
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