In India, technology in pharma logistics is still at its nascent stage and there is a dire need for technology enabled and process managed cargo storage which can facilitate operations more efficiently. V Raju, VP, Contract Logistics – Pharma, Chemical and Food Avvashya CCI Logistics talks about the issues faced by the industry and shares his company’s growth plans
Tell us about Avvashya CCI Logistics’ services for the pharma sector?
Avvashya CCI (ACCI) is involved in safe storage of pharmaceutical material for its pharma customers at some of its warehouses. These involve good storage practices in temperature controlled, racked storage facilities with FDA approvals, temperature data loggers, and implementation of all other safety and security PPEs. Enough care is taken to monitor storage practices and enable good and safe handling methods, as these go hand in hand to ensure excellent storage practice for pharma manufacturers and exporters. Realising the importance of supply chain and logistics, ACCI ensures that along with storage of pharma products in its warehouses, all facilities for exports like handling and stuffing export containers with desired pharma products is done as and when required, in time for exporters to move the material/ containers safely and soundly to the ports. All value additions required for packages to become ship fit and export fit are also done at ACCI facilities. This goes a long way in having an extremely satisfied pharma customer.
Recently, you have commissioned a new warehouse in Bhiwandi. Tell us more about the facility.
The warehouse is predominantly for chemical companies, located at Renaissance Logistics Park, WB-09 Bhiwandi. Spread across 1.31 lakh sq ft, the warehouse meets global standards in safety and security compliances. The facility functions on a multi-client mode and has a clear height of 10 meters, with mid height being 11.5 metres and fully racked with a capacity of 10,776 pallet positions.
What is the USP of Allcargo Logistics, which is a part of Avvashya Group? In terms of geographical connectivity, tell us the advantages it offers?
The company’s product offerings range across the logistics value chain from NVOCC, container freight stations, inland container depots, and projects and engineering solutions. Through ECU Worldwide, the group is the global leader in the Less than Container Load (LCL) segment and has footprints in more than 160 countries and over 300 offices thus ensuring a strong international foothold. ACCI on the other hand has a strong India presence in 3PL Contract Logistics (warehousing) with close to 3.5 million sq ft space being owned/ managed by them and supported strongly with their own customs clearance and freight forwarding divisions.
The group thus has a unique advantage of logistics solutions provided through the various business verticals under one roof, dominated by expertise and network, both in India and internationally, which can be leveraged to provide customised end-to-end services to clients. Nowadays, a lot of companies are outsourcing their logistics requirements. To deal with a reputed group like ours, would mean one-stop-solution for all logistics requirements.
What safety and compliance measures does one need to adhere to in a pharma warehouse?
Pharma warehouses require certifications from FDA and other certification bodies like SGs etc. on the health, safety and hygiene practices followed in the warehouses. With good infrastructure, Good Storage Practices (GSP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Distribution Practices (GDP) to take care of receipt, storage and distribution being followed at its warehouses, ACCI ensures that the best of supply chain logistics services are offered to its customers at all times.
Our warehouses meet global standards in safety and security compliances. Time bound delivery is critical in the pharma logistics domain. The company also strictly ensures compliance with the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) guidelines and environmental regulations.
What are the challenges being faced by the Indian pharma logistic industry and how to overcome those?
Time bound delivery is critical in the pharma industry. Most pharma products need to be kept at a particular temperature throughout the transit period from the manufacturer to the end user. This is to make sure that the drugs are useful for the patients. Transporting pharma products, be it through the air, sea, road or railways, each has its distinct advantages as well as disadvantages. Quality issues and price pressures have also spiraled across the value chain, triggered by more regulatory scrutiny. Infrastructure ,although better than in the past, is still a serious concern.
Along with infrastructure issues, handling of pharma cargo through transshipment ports and transshipment points is also an issue in our country, where inadequate training or care on the part of site staff can lead to supply chain logistics problems. Lack of IT sophistication in the domestic logistics sector with the limited use of RFID sensors and technological tools, has made it difficult for manufacturers to execute basic tasks like tracking cargoes.
Supply chain management is a key concern in the pharma industry. Will cloud-based platform be a solution?
Big data and data analytics can help identify patterns for future predictions. For instance, marketing and sales forces could deploy advanced analytics to understand prescribing behaviour and potential patient profiles, enabling more precise targeting of providers and increasing the number of prescriptions filed.
Cloud and mobile technology, sensors, and next-generation business intelligence will bring about a new wave of automation in business processes—that is, real time responsiveness though streamlined, automated work flows with few handovers and end-to-end, real-time transparency on progress, costs, and business value. Thus, cloud based platform could be a viable solution for efficiencies in supply chain logistics.
Technology is still at its nascent stage in the industry, especially in India. There is a dire need for high technology enabled and process managed cargo storage and handling facilities to operate efficiently in India, which calls for high investments. A long-term investment strategy is needed for augmenting the country’s warehousing, ground handling, storage, IT infrastructure and transportation capabilities. These technology solutions will have to be supplemented with human intervention, at least in the near term to ensure efficiency. A combination of human and digital process would help put together a robust system of supply chain logistics.
Recently, the Finance Ministry has granted sub-sector status of infrastructure to logistics sector. Do you think this will give a boost to the sector?
It is a very positive move for the sector and is expected to boost competitiveness making it feasible for companies to raise long-term credit from banks and financial institutions at low rates, and attract foreign investment. The infra status accorded compliments the recent landmark tax reform – GST. Growth in consumption will significantly scale up manufacturing growth, leading to creation of more jobs, further boosting economic activity.
What do you say regarding GST? Will it be a boon for the sector?
With implementation of GST, over a period of time, logistics cost to GDP is expected to come down to around 10 per cent from current levels of 13-14 per cent. Delivery time from manufacturers to consumers, which earlier took 10-15 days due to multiple check-posts, has gone down to three to five days optimising the time and saving the costs. Supply chain cost across customer organisations and industry at large is expected to see significant savings. This is a very significant contribution as logistics is a part of every business and an integral part of the economy. Short-term glitches like IT infrastructure, etc. still persist, but over a period of time, all stakeholders will eventually align with the revised system and this will prove beneficial to the sector.