With every challenge comes an opportunity to innovate and sow the seeds of a new order. COVID-19 caused unprecedented disruptions across the country. On one hand, where the pandemic exposed the inadequacies of the Indian logistics sector, it also brought to the fore the sector’s ability to innovate & recuperate without breaking down.
It was evident that an industry fraught with multiple contact points and a long paper chain per trip put its on-ground workers at a grave risk of contamination. Perceiving the towering need for ‘Contactless Logistics’, Varuna Group fast tracked the development of its roadmap to bring in greater safety and efficiency into the system.
Pivoting towards contactless logistics
The conventional transportation system includes a multitude of paper-based business processes – from handling of the lorry receipt (consignment note) to collection of a paper document as proof of delivery – which is time-consuming, leads to data quality problems and eventually impedes operational efficiency. Contactless Logistics aims to largely eliminate all forms of time-consuming human interventions and automate the entire process to the maximum extent.
Digital LR: The first step towards contactless logistics
Lorry Receipt (LR), an undertaking by the transporter to deliver the goods to the destination, is an indispensable part of the transportation process. Three physical copies (driver, consignee and consignor) of the consignment note are passed on by the customer to the driver. While digital Lorry Receipt (digital LR) as a concept has existed for many years, there was no actionable solution in sight due to several reasons –
- Fear of novel technology – Many fear that digital LR will cut down jobs at the ground level.
- Apprehensions of redundancy – With well-established manual processes, clients sense that avoiding duplication in the paper trail system is a challenge.
- Platform development constraints – It’s strenuous to develop a platform that’s accurate, time-saving and can be readily integrated into different client platforms while upholding their data privacy.
Varuna Group: Pioneering digital LR in India
Understanding these challenges, we collaborated with our clients in a streamlined and systematic manner and pioneered the right solution in a short span for two weeks during the lockdown period. Here’s how we did it –
- A cross-functional team – We assembled a dedicated ‘Contactless Project Team’ by selecting key people from Operations, Technology, and Key Account Management (KAM) that worked 24X7 to develop and implement the solution in tandem with the customers. We also deployed a dedicated POC at the customer site for the same.
- Using government databases – Earlier attempts at digital LR focused on using a custom API to create lorry receipts. We found a more efficient way by utilising government databases and fetching details from e-way bills to generate digital LR.
- Optimising side-by-side with the customer – We worked closely with one of our flagship clients to develop and test the pilot. As a gesture of their immense trust in us, they allowed us to conduct the trials despite the surmounting fear & uncertainty. We took feedback at every step and optimized the solution at every turn.
- Scaling the final product – Post the success of our pilot, we developed a comprehensive 3-day training programme that aided the implementation of digital LR with new customers and at different sites.
Since implementation, we have successfully created 3000 digital LRs so far and this is just the beginning. We are extending our service to new clients and driving the transformation through education, pilots and training.
What is the way forward?
Implementing digital LR is just the first step towards contactless logistics and our team is already working on the next step – an electronic proof of delivery or e-POD, e-signatures and e-billing.
By automating the routine tasks that run the risks of human errors and delays, these services can result in better customer service and satisfaction. Their adoption does not only help counter the health risks but also addresses the need for a quicker delivery system. They contribute towards making the logistics service virtually contactless and enable end-to-end visibility.