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Technology is defining the success of Future Supply Chain

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Future Supply Chain (FSC), India’s largest organised third-party supply chain and logistics service provider, offers automated and IT-enabled warehousing, distribution and other logistics solutions to a wide range of customers. While the business was originally established to provide supply chain and logistics solutions for its own group of companies, it diversified the customer base across various sectors.

The company’s customers operate in various sectors across India, including retail, fashion and apparel, food and beverage, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), e-commerce, home and furniture and a lot more.

The brand, which is promoted by Future Enterprises Limited, is known for providing services in three key areas:
– Contract Logistics: warehousing, distribution and other value-added services
– Express Logistics: point-to-point, less-than truckload, time-definite transportation services
– Temperature-Controlled Logistics: coldchain warehousing, transportation solutions and long-haul distribution of perishable products

FSC runs its operations through 96 distribution centres across India, covering approximately 7.66 million square feet of warehousing space. Their distribution centre at the Multi-Modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) is one of the largest and most highly automated distribution centres in India.The brand posted revenue of Rs 11,128 million and a gross profit of Rs 3,392 millionat the end of the financial year 2018-19.

In an interaction with IMAGES Retail, , CEO, Ltd. shares the role of technology in the successful running of the operations of the brand.

Excerpts from the Interview…

Explain how technology helps in accessing demand and managing supply for customers?

Demand for automation, personalised workflows and streamlining complicated operation processes have strongly contributed to a shift in how supply chain operates today and creates a tight relationship between its consumers and business.

With an increased demand for faster and more accurate order fulfilment, IT tools help offer better customer service by precise tracking. Artificial Intelligence has also strongly entered the supply chain industry to provide enhanced customer service. Real time technology when coupled with traditional logistics business model gives intuitive results and agile delivery operational workflow that improves the performance of the business. Usage of process like to on-the-go tracking, access to data analytics, smart route planning and efficient order management makes the supply chain management process faster hence making company’s relationship with its customers, stronger.

Have you deployed technology for merchandise optimisation?

The use of technology allows Future Supply Chain to have accurate, timely and granular information of an SKU and hence, helps us maintain the desired level of inventory at stores/ shelves. By implementing Warehouse Management System (WMS) in our warehouses, collaboration with all the stakeholders is enabled for a continuous flow of information among them. The integration of WMS with customers’ ERP helps us manage inventory efficiently and increase the productivity at different stages of operations.

Technologies like Put-to-light system (PTL) and Cross Belt Sortation Systemhelp us in handling multiple SKUs with volumes running in millions, manage seasonal peak demands and off er value added services like returns management. Automation technologies like inbound and outbound have also added immense pace to receiving and dispatching processes.

Various other technology platforms like Transport Management System (TMS), Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) and mobile application have provided us complete end-to-end visibility. This helps us in forecasting and planning inventory levels to utilise the resources to meet customer demands optimally.

How is your supply chain, logistics and warehousing facilities diff erent as compared to other players in the same category?

FSC remains at the fore-front in adopting cutting-edge technologies at its warehouses, thereby enabling faster time to market and increased reliability of the supply chain for its customers. We believe in being a partner in progress for our customers.

FSC offers the entire gamut of services in-store and on move. We have an efficient program management capability along with supply chain experts to handhold transitions effectively and this is aided by our strong processes.

MIHAN’s technological prowess is unmatched in India. The entire supply chain process in the distribution centre is automated. Boom conveyors for inbound and outbound operations running upto 4 km, laser scanners, put-to-light technology, voice pick and 12 m high spiral conveyor enable efficient and cost effective operations.

We have the capacity to throughput a million articles every day making us one of the strongest third-party logistics supply chain players in India for the consumption driven sectors like Consumer Durables, Home & Furniture, Food & FMCG and Fashion & Lifestyle.

What have been your biggest pain points in supply chain, logistics and warehousing and how technology has helped you solve this?

With the fast-changing markets, exponential growth in demand and change in buying behaviour of consumers, there is a constant pressure on supply chain to be fast and responsive. Challenges like managing peaks, high turnaround time, longer time to market and lack of end-to-end visibility call for an intervention of technology.

With the introduction WMS, TMS, VTS, sortation systems, picking solutions and inbound/ outbound automation, FSC is able to optimise efficiencies with reduced manual efforts. WMS has enabled seamless fl ow of information right from customer’s end to the delivery point.

By having enhanced visibility in the supply chain, we plan our resources in a better way, collaborate with all the stakeholders and off er improved customer satisfaction through efficient order fulfilment. Also, with the use of these technologies issues like pilferages, shrinkages and any other losses have been eradicated, enabling thorough transparency of the entire supply chain.

How do you calculate the ROI using technology?

The best way to calculate ROI is by quantifying the value you generate for your customer. FSC’s purpose is to, ‘add velocity to our customers’ aspirations’. We invest in cutting-edge technologies and customise solutions for our clients. With the use of technology, we have optimally managed the space at the warehouses, provided for greater inventory discipline, improved stock visibility and accuracy. All of them become benchmarks to track the turnaround time before the technology was implemented and after it was made live.

Complexities in supply chain show no signs of slowing, hence integration of technology to better manage inventory and provide visibility has become the key to an effective logistics program. By integrating the right platform, processes and people, we enhance operational efficiency and reduce time to market, which is a good measure to calculate ROI on software and hardware deployed.