Media Report: AUTOCONNECT 2019


Organised by Surecom Media, AUTOCONNECT 2019Automotive Logistics Conference was convened at Shangri- La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi on September 19, 2019. This year’s edition was endowed with participation by more than 150 OEMs and logistics professionals from around the country and abroad. Four intriguing panel discussions were held in the conference which touched the inherent aspect of India’s Automotive Supply Chain.

Ajeet Kumar, Surecom Media’s Director, provided the opening remarks and noted the organisation’s commitment to delivering first-rate logistics conferences from their CONNECT series of conferences, to the entire industry. The conference formally commenced with the lighting of lamp by dignitaries- Achal Paliwal, CEO, TML Distribution Company Ltd; Amlan Bose, VP- Global COE, Asia Pacific, MEA, South

America, Ford Motors; Abhik Mitra, MD, Spoton Logistics; Dr Raman Prasad Singh, Dy Adviser, NITI Aayog; Senthil Kumar D, Lead – Sales Distribution & Logistics- LCV, Ashok Leyland; and Smiti Suri, Publisher- Surecom Media.
Achal Paliwal, CEO, TML Distribution Company Ltd, addressed the conference in the inaugural session. He informed that global manufacturing is experiencing its sharpest and most geographically widespread downturn as the US-China trade war weighs on factories around the world.

Counting on India’s capacity, capability and domestic demand, Paliwal said, “The industry is facing unprecedented shift in customer’s aspirations, technological and emission expectations and need to support path-breaking policy reforms. Once the dust of economic reforms and anti-reform propaganda settles, India may be the largest beneficiary of investment diversion.”

The 1st panel discussion of the conference titled ‘‘India will be Electric’’ covered the topics- Investment strategies, supply chain solutions and logistics challenges powering India’s electrification. Changing regulations regarding EVs and battery production, and sales and transport across the supply chain. Storage, transport, and import export issues. The panel saw eminent speakers- Prerana Chaturvedi, Spokesperson and CEO, Evolet; Jitesh Dodiya, Chief Electric Engineer, Menza Motors Pvt Ltd; and Pranav Singanapalli, Founder & CEO, eMotion Motors; and Divyanshu Tambe, Executive Director – Transport & Logistics, Ernst & Young.

Talking about the issues related to electric vehicles supply chain, Jitesh Dodiya said that being an OEM, they have to worry for the vehicle parts and not the charging infrastructure. “When we talk about electric vehicles, the components are different. We need companies manufacturing those components to evolve. Unless and until companies producing those components and parts don’t evolve, it will be quite critical for us to cater to the big service and spare network,” informed Dodiya.

Considering the future prospects of electric vehicles, Prerana Chaturvedi said the industry will have to move to an industry 4.0 format and that India would also need to reskill a large number of motor mechanics. They cannot repair EVs because of the sophisticated electronics. More importantly, India should utilise the next few years to become a leader in next-generation battery technology. This is an honourable way to pursue EV dreams without being critically dependent on any country. This will require setting up of a high-ambition, well-funded institution headed by recognised experts.

In the 2nd panel discussion, Manish Kumar Gupta, Divisional Head- Parts Centre and Transport, Honda Motors; Rajesh Choudhary, Senior Director- Solution Development, Delhivery; Deepak Kumar, National Sales Head, V-Trans; Jayaprakash Loganathan, Sr Manager- SCM, JK Fenner; Mayank Dwivedi, VP, Spoton Logistics; and Divyanshu Tambe, Executive Director- Transport & Logistics, Ernst & Young, deliberated on the subject ‘Mastering the auto supply chain’. Many new details came to limelight including the changing dynamics of the aftermarket and how service parts deliveries will change in this new environment.

Manish Kumar Gupta said that it’s not the time to only look into the direct costs; but to look into the customer or the dealer’s perspective. Besides, auto companies have to work upon lowering the inventories. Also, companies have to work systematically with the transporters or logistics service providers and do proper reason analysis if any damage is happening due to unhealthy loading practice or inadequate packaging instead of just blaming them. In terms of transportation and storage, Gupta said, “Today, there is warehouse consolidation, proper supply chain visibility, better service providers with efficient vehicles fleet and who takes care of their drivers through CSR initiatives; all these are aimed at benefitting the industry in the long-term.”

Mayank Dwivedi stressed on the fact that OEMs and Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers should be open to new ideas such as API integration, transparency and flow of information wherein a vendor can use the service provider’s web-based portals and that they should give fair chance to logistics service providers who are servicing or offering them services, helping improve on the two most important parameters- fill rate and lead-time service level.

From a service provider perspective, Rajesh Choudhary said, “Delhivery is gearing up by investing a lot in infrastructure, be it technology or fleet management. As an integrated solutions provider, we are engaging with a lot of automotive companies for end-to-end supply chain solutions so as to help them consolidate on cost benefits and make them leaner and efficient through extensive offerings of technology.”

The post lunch session kicked off with the 3rd panel discussion on ‘Outbound Logistics – New Business Models’. Industry leaders who took to the stage were R S Kapoor, VP- Supply Chain, Maruti Suzuki India; Vipul Nanda, President, Car Carrier Association; Manish Kumar Gupta, Divisional Head- Parts Centre and Transport, Honda Motors; Senthil Kumar D, Lead- Sales Distribution & Logistics- LCV, Ashok Leyland; and Nidhish Kuchhal, GM- Demand Chain Management, Mahindra & Mahindra. The value-adding points that emerged during the discussion were the sector’s future infrastructure requirements, where the industry can collaborate, why some parts of the supply chain still have a fragmented approach and how to overcome those, etc.

During the session, R S Kapoor proved quite vocal, informing that being the country’s largest carmaker, Maruti has drawn up a plan, based on which at least 50 per cent of its cars will be transported through the railways by 2030. The company is currently using around 30 rakes for transportation of its cars, of which more than half include flexi-deck auto-wagon rake, specially designed by the company.

Nidhish Kuchhal seemed optimistic as he talked about the boosters for productivity improvements such as transit time reduction post-GST, introduction of AFTO policy by the railways which has increased railway’s share in transportation of automobile. Besides, Kuchhal mentioned about the hub and spoke model which will enable bulk movement of vehicles, and coastal shipping as well as collaborative logistics framework as enablers which will help to manage costs and improve on efficiencies in the future.

Talking about the current scenario, Senthil Kumar D said that car carriers who are servicing OEMs should look to cost reduction and efficiency in vehicle deliveries. Further, Senthil said that Government and transporters should create facilities and build the right approach to retain drivers or tackle the issue of driver shortage.

The 4th and the last panel discussion witnessed professionals and specialists from the field- Amlan Bose, VP- Global COE, Asia Pacific, MEA, South America, Ford Motors; Sameer Gupta, Chief Manager (Supply Chain), JK Tyres & Industries; Mudit Chandra, Director- Freight Marketing, Railway Board; Ramesh Venkat, Head- Industry Partnerships, Logistics Sector Skill Council; and Teja Vardhan Podipireddy, Manager- Demand Planning, Mahindra and Mahindra, sharing their knowledge and expertise on the topic ‘Optimising and keeping pace with Supply Chain growth: Managing Present Conditions and Infrastructural Bottlenecks’. The panel stressed on the vital role that technology plays in the sector, and that positioning the right infrastructure has been a challenge and therefore automotive companies, OEMs and logistics service providers alike should be pro-active to address the prevailing issues so as to map out logistics and supply chain strategies that need to be closely aligned with the company’s manufacturing and commercial strategies.

Commenting on the crucial aspect of creating and driving a culture of innovation in the workplace, Amlan Bose said that, “It is important for the senior leadership of any organisation to spend some rich time, at least a few hours every day or once a week, in understanding and ideating the strategies of tomorrow.” Bose also enlightened the attendees about Ford’s dynamic supply chain, and how they have been efficiently innovating its management.

Highlighting the railways initiatives in addressing the automotive industry’s concerns, Mudit Chandra expressed, “As far as delivery is concerned, capacity constraints has been a major issue in freight trains. We are eagerly awaiting the commissioning of dedicated freight corridors which will help triple our capacity in a single stock; the move likely to be effective by 2021. Until then, we will monitor every freight train at the highest level on a daily basis, which is currently being practiced. And wherever there are detentions and bottlenecks, all possible efforts are being made to counter or address the issues, along with counseling the staff and supervisors.”

Speaking on the creation of a potential-skills ambience, Ramesh Venkat said their industry-best training modules help any organisation’s strong supply chain workforce build capabilities across domains of product delivery and customer experience.

The conference concluded with a delectable dinner and bohemian cocktail treats.