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Come October 2021, and we are back with our most coveted Celerity 40-Under-40 and 30-Under-30 Awards, where we bestow upon the younger supply chain fraternity greater admiration and celebrate their innovative streaks. Just like last year, though we hosted the event online, it was no less than a starry affair with all the winners taking away the crowning glory with pride. In an ode to cherish these precious moments and offer these Supers an incredible growth path, here’s presenting their poised supply chain innovations that have helped achieve tangible gains in their respective organizations on the back of an integrated & intelligent supply chain. These innovations are also future-forward supply chain best practices for companies to follow and shape up their exciting supply chain journey. Take a look at the promising ideas that can potentially change the supply chain landscape of tomorrow…


Amrit Bajpai, COO, WayCool Foods and Products Pvt. Ltd.

A fragmented and disorganized supply chain has been the bane of Indian agriculture for decades. The lack of accurate on-time information to all stakeholders of the Agri value chain has forced them to work in silos, resulting in inefficiencies across the entire supply chain. At WayCool, we have been striving hard to resolve these inefficiencies by creating a transparent ecosystem for all stakeholders and infusing new-age technologies like AI, ML, Deep Learning, and Advanced Robotics to enhance our supply chain processes by reimagining how food moves from farm to fork. RAPID, our indigenously developed Automated SCM System, is integrated with the aforementioned technologies and our proprietary planning platform that seamlessly helps in creating an agile supply chain that is instantly responsive to market supply and demand. Here is what we have succeeded in achieving in a short span of time:

  • Reimagined Supply Chain for Fresh Produce: In our automated Distribution Centers, the inbound crates are automatically scanned and mapped against the PO, weighed, UV-scanned to eliminate contaminations, and robotically placed on conveyor belts for instant dispatch. With over 40% of the crates being processed without any human touch, we have been able to reduce our wastage to 5-8% vis-à-vis industry average of 25-30%. Additionally, we have developed India’s first Automated Grading & Packing Machine for hard produce like onions, potatoes, garlic, and lemon that allows accurate grading of over 1.25 tons of produce per hour and automated packaging of over 20 packets per minute.
  • Reimagined Supply Chain for Staples: Frugal, need-based automation ensures 2X efficiency than industry standards. This indigenous picker App lets the picker scan produce an SKU barcode against available SOs for that specific SKU. The picker can complete picking on the handheld device itself. Once SO is thoroughly picked, the invoice is generated, and materials are dispatched.
  • Reimagined Supply Chain of FMCG Products for an FMCG Leader: Our super-warehouse leverages Advanced Robotics to automatically pack each distributor’s orders by using our Fulfilment Centers as cross-docks. Our indigenously developed IoT conveyor intuitively reads the barcode on the crate and instantly displays where the crate has to be precisely placed in the delivery vehicle. This innovation alone has helped us to reduce our delivery times from 15 mins to a mere 2 mins, with only a staff of 2 people! All of the above have enabled us to not just reduce operational costs, but has helped us improve our productivity by 1.5X, capacity by 3X, and top line by 4X resulting in an ARR of Rs1000 crore in just 12 months!

Puneet Agarwal, Chief Manager - Strategic Sourcing (SCM — CP), Bajaj Electricals Ltd

I had initiated the idea of providing a common platform to every individual within the company and our outsourced partners to develop the concepts related to cost reduction and quality improvement. The online platform was created with the help of IT, and it was shared with everyone in the company. This has led to more than 1000 ideas contributing significant savings for the company. To evaluate and select the ideas to be taken forward, a committee was formed comprising a few team members across cross-functional teams and decided the next course of action. Weekly meetings are scheduled with the stakeholders to chart out the implementation plan. A team was prepared to schedule personal visits at the partners and explain the importance of the initiative and how it would bring business to the organization.

Ashwani Singh, Head – Supply Chain, Capital Foods Pvt. Ltd.

In my previous role, we developed real-time end-to-end tracking from Order to Delivery (including customer returns and transit damages) and enhanced visibility and service across India. This solution provided easy access and end-to-end visibility with tracking at each stage and information /communication to all stakeholders. Information flow is secured and integrated with SAP, providing status/KPI information through a user friendly interface. ASN (Advanced shipment notification) is sent to selected customers with complete order details and estimated delivery date. Post-delivery scanned copy of POD (Proof of Delivery) is uploaded in the system by the transporter. The solution also manages customer returns (through workflow approval) as well as tracks transit damages. Warehousing and transportation KPIs like Truck placement, Loadability, Turn Around Time (TAT), Transit damages, etc., are also managed in real-time and improved through fact-based reviews with 3PLs and transporters. The system also supports calculation provision and checking transporter’s bills effectively. Entire tracking is web-enabled and can also be done through mobile phones by stakeholders.

This innovation resulted in 10%+ cost reduction through better visibility, data analytics, and optimization. It also led to sustainable improvement in on-time customer delivery above 90+%. Warehouse turnaround time compliance improved to 95+%; and registered Vehicle loadability improvement from 75% to 90%.

Aditya Sharma, Business Development Lead, Accex Supply Chain and Warehousing Pvt Ltd.

At Accex, we have a firm focus on our customers’ requirements. Our culture of operations and people excellence ensures that our customers’ needs always come first. We spend time and effort to figure out challenges with all our customers before suggesting a personalized solution. In line with this ideology, we approached one of India’s leading manufacturers and exporters of footwear products to partner with them in their supply chain journey. Our customer exports to more than 80 countries. As they are located in the hinterland, they ask the shipping lines to reposition the containers for stuffing at their factories. These containers would then be transported via ICD through rail to the port for sailing. They were facing challenges in repositioning containers at the factory for stuffing and irregular rail transit times. This resulted in extensive detention and demurrage costs while shipping exports at the source and destination ports. This also resulted in delays for export order fulfillment and hence reduction in service levels and order loss. Additionally, with the current scenario where sea freight rates are sky-high, they are looking at having multiple sea freight options to have better-negotiating power. We designed an end-to-end solution where cargo from all the factories will be consolidated in an export warehouse near the port, and it will be fulfilled from the factories via road transport. The entire order fulfillment will be managed from this location. This has resulted in substantial cost savings for our customers. Post this, we have offered this solution to many other customers, and this has become one of the most successful growth areas for Accex, making a substantial contribution to our top line.

Vignesh Vishwanathan, Product Supply Lead – Middle East North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP), Mondelez 

MENAP had set up a strong Cash/DIOH governance to optimize inventory across the supply network (Finished Goods, Raw and Pack Material, Engineering Spares) to mitigate the impact of COVID driven slowdowns in Q4’20 and support growth in Q1’21. Critical planning interventions through strategic FG/ R&P build-ups, critical supplier risk Management, and Key-Material planning scheduling changes led to inventory/cash reduction by 18% vs. 2020 through close collaboration across supply chain/ commercial teams.

Faraz Hussain, Director – Category & Procurement, AgroStar

The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic had been challenging for the Agri Input Industry for many reasons. Due to this woeful onset, farmers were suffering from supply shortages of fertilizers and agrochemicals. During this period, the supplies of RM were crashed, and even available product supply was rare due to disturbance in the supply ecosystem. After the announcement of nationwide lockdown in March 2020, we urgently drafted a plan of action to help farmers deal with the uncertainties. Our primary focus was to bridge the gap between the need of farmers and the adequate supply of quality Agri input to them at their doorstep without risking their life. We worked on inventory classification and demand-based prioritization at fulfillment centers, which helped to capture the product’s availability to the sales team. We reverse engineered the product supply chain and helped vendors to have a milk run for small but repeated supplies to overcome production bottlenecks.

As a firm believer in building people before business, we curated a set of experts as a procurement team who were supposed to focus on supply chain nuances, unlike category folks who gun for revenue and product margins. Due to the restrictions imposed by the government, traveling from one’s place to office or vendor location was a problem, so the team had to stay connected for several hours virtually through social media apps, Zoom, Google Meet, etc. The procurement team worked relentlessly and took conscious and calibrated measures during covid lockdowns to improve supply efficiencies like inventory days optimization and supply TAT management to have minimum demand-supply distortion. 

Innovative practices were brought in product packaging to optimize cost and reduce wastages, bringing agility at supplier location. Supplier diversity was ensured to promote localization and reduce TAT. This led to minimum sales opportunity loss and drastically reduced supply distortion even during the pandemic. While the competition was struggling to register growth, our D2C model, with the help of the above initiatives, helped grow business with a stellar performance of double-digit growth in revenues.

Ravindra Agarwal, External Manufacturing Leader - Femcare, Johnson & Johnson

When I completed my engineering, I knew very little about supply chain. I started my career as an Engineer in Auto Component manufacturing facility. Now after 17 year of professional graph when I look back, I can say with confidence that supply chain is the most diverse role that any professional would look forward to in terms of gaining newer experiences, insights about the whole value chain and being a valued contributor in this highly dynamic field. It’s the supply chain’s highly dynamic attribute that kept me excited every day, week months and year where everyone can have ample opportunity to have diverse experiences across pillars of supply chain. Going ahead, I think fundamentals of supply chain will remain strong on the back of these disruptions:

  • Standardization to Personalization: Our consumers are becoming more and more aware about what they need, how they need, when they want it and very important what aspect they want into their product. It’s no more standard product or consumer specifications. Today consumers don’t want any standard product, they want the product made as per their individual personnel specification. This will be a major paradigm shift in near future in supply chain.
  • Linear to Circular Supply Chain: We have always believed supply chain key pillars to be Source-Plan-Make-Deliver. The circularity aspect which was long forgotten has brought back the spotlight on sustainability, necessitating supply chain teams to think in Circular way that how they can collect the residual/waste from their consumers and bring back to the starting point “Source” to recycle or reuse to minimize the overall environmental impact. It’s all about working towards ‘Deliver to Source’ model and completing the loop.
  • Digitization-Big Data-AI/ML-Blockchain: Speed and precision are going to be key KPIs for supply chain in future. To enable this, digitization across leg of supply chain is going to be crucial to make supply chain much more streamlined, agile and mobile to create faster flow. AI and ML are making complex operations simple and are assisting companies in predicting consumer behavior. Blockchain technology, in next 10 years, is going to change the way we do transactions across supply chain.

Sandeep Pratap, Lead – RM Procurement - India, Asia & ASEANZ, UPL Ltd.

As Supply Chain Enabler for India Business of Legacy Arysta Lifesciences, I worked on shaping future Strategic plans for Arysta Business in India Region and Arysta India Manufacturing Unit. I worked to ensure smooth integration and Growth Strategy of Arysta Legacy Business and Arysta India Manufacturing unit with UPL India using System and Process implementation.

I lead the supply planning, integration planning & execution, and supply chain transformation initiatives of Arysta India. I worked with sales teams of different regions in ensuring smooth business during the transition period. I managed and facilitated cross-functional teams covering manufacturing, planning, sales, IT, and procurement, driving the legacy business’s capacity utilization and operational efficiency. Some of the results achieved were – improved service level, reduced inventory level, alignment of processes of Arysta with UPL, implementation of SAP APO SNP, alignment of BOM Master and Material Master for the legacy Arysta business in UPL Systems, shifting of externally manufactured products to the newly acquired plant. Total capacity utilization has gone to 7X in 3 years.

Vipin Magwane, Analytics & Modeling Specialist, Accenture Solution Pvt. Ltd.

During my stint at Reliance Digital, I decided to reduce inventory, not by traditional methods of MarkDown or Return to vendor (RTV), which are primarily reactive approaches. Due to poor vendor fill rate and poor forecast accuracy, I observed that we were forced to keep high safety stock majorly for A Class items. So, I first improved the forecast accuracy through a collaborative forecasting approach. I started sharing our 13 weeks of rolling forecast with brands and asked them to update our numbers as per their stock availability for the next four weeks. Upon receiving the updated forecast (we called it RTF – Return to Forecast) from brands, we updated those numbers in our system. This ensured maximum supply from brands against purchase order & helped improve vendor fill rate.

Finally, we reduced safety stock by linking safety stock with vendor fill rate. For example, the Brand ‘X’ Fill rate was 50%. So, to mitigate the stock-out issue, we were keeping 30 days of safety stock. However, with the collaborative forecasting approach, the fill rate was improved to 70%, and with this improved vendor fill rate, we reduced safety stock from 30 days to 20 Days. We used the ‘What-if’ analysis approach to arrive at optimum safety stock.

Naresh Rao Manda, General Manager, Bajaj Electricals Ltd.

In 2019-20, we initiated Capacity Exploitation Activity at a Supply Partner Fan factory. The objective was to increase the production capacity with existing resources. At the time of the project initiation, the monthly capacity of the factory was less than the total requirement. We conducted a session with the factory team to understand the work timings, targeted production, and actual achievement per day and took the overview of complete end-to-end operations. Based on the inputs from the factory and taking the ToC route, we identified the constraint, which was the powder-coated blade paint shop. We took a deep dive into the problem areas. We found many challenges the factory was facing, including the non-availability of raw material before the feeding station, workforce absenteeism, morning meeting, lunch/snack time, delay in start post-lunch.

After analyzing the cause, we derived the workable solution to boost plant productivity, which entailed that raw material should be made available before the end of the day at the riveting station so that CCR never runs idle. The factory needs to ensure buffers of riveted blades for one to two rotations of CCR. We also identified an idle machine available at the factory, which can be operated to maintain sufficient buffers before CCR to avoid any starvation. We also initiated buffers for nozzles to maintain one more set of nozzles readily available at the CCR. After implementing the above steps, the CCR capacity increased by 1,800 to 2,000 fans per day.

Nirav Kotecha, Asst General Manager, Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.

After successful Inventory Management and consecutive improvement in all SCM KPIs in Wires & cable and PVC Tape for 4 years, I was nominated as a Leader for the Inventory Management Project of the entire organization, which consists of 8 different Businesses. My past achievements led the management to empower me with two more business units – Switchgear & Water Heater in my Portfolio. As far as the SCM innovation is concerned, our team reduced significant inventory in 2 years after implementing and executing Core Activities. We redefined the Standard Inventory Level of respective businesses considering their challenges, capacity limitations, sales pattern, seasonality & profit margins, and approval from respective business heads, SCM heads & management. We integrated Standard Inventory level with MSL (Max and Min Stock level) at Factories, Hub & Spokes. The VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) system has been initiated at a few OEMs for high-selling SKUs. We combined vehicles of respective factories (includes an OEM) located at a 25 km radius and improved the frequency of vehicles from Factory to Hub & A-Class SKUs to few high selling spokes, which improved our lead time. We worked on the SKU Optimization Project for items not sold over 3 years by discontinuing a few SKUs. Major SKUs were converted on a Make to Order basis, which was part of Product Basket and cannot be discontinued (We started with two businesses initially). Our team also created subgroups to control & reduce unhealthy inventory like excess stock above three months, replacement inventory, old MRP, etc., and to stop the generation of Unhealthy Inventory; we started a Notification system to validate the orders if the customer is logging order more than 6 months sales (We started on a trial basis with one business).

Mohinder Kushwaha, Business Development Lead – DGM, TVS SCS

I joined a fast-paced, growing logistics group, managing business development activities, key account management, and operations; within the first year of inception, the firm touched 1+ million sqft operational for all marquee clients. This was an unprecedented feat concerning the industry. It is imperative that we further increase the pace of acquiring customers and running effective and productive operations for marquee clients. We planned for a regimental system of detailed weekly reviews through multiple calls and meetings every month at logistic parks. We focused on making our operations world-class with productivity, processes, and performance, focusing on increasing productivity and increasing throughput using the best technologies required to run streamlined and synchronized operations. Customer First and Customer-Centric approach, understanding the customers’ pain-areas, needs and then aligning our solutions with what our customers required routed back to the customers with a unique and differential proposal that optimized their entire value chain. At the same time, it was cost-effective.

Conversion of key accounts happened as the customer got aligned and tested our customized network design, services on offering with the state of the art infrastructure, and technology-enabled solutions that were the critical differentiators, vis-a-via competitors. We took the innovative approach by hiring the best-skilled minds: operators, sales professionals, technical staff, project management team, technical minds to support the entire ecosystem with a differential edge over our competitors.

We have worked with the best industry practices in every vertical: operations, sales, solution designing, and technology. We chose the blue ocean strategy, and our goals were very well defined and aligned to our mission of reaching our target set for the next 3-5 years. We selected a location to operate the logistics parks, the following upcoming and growing smart cities that increased employment in the particular cities. We spread awareness among our customers with the benefits of starting at these identified towns and locations to save them the cost and reduce their Turn Around Time (TAT) to the end consumers, which worked in our favor. Customers too joined hands and got excited about our new initiates and supported us. We also created new logistic landscapes in certain cities that added value to the entire logistics ecosystem, improving customer experience, customer retention, and customer lifetime value.

Veera Oruganti, Head – Strategic Sourcing, Syngene International Ltd.

TAML, a leading Carbon fiber composite part manufacturer, increased its revenue share from global aerospace customers. During this revenue ramp-up exercise, TAML encountered series of challenges in the supply chain, such as significant inventory holding (~30% of revenue), high inventory aging, shelf-life expiry of material, which led to disposal (> 2 crores per year) and poor procurement planning of materials. All these challenges cumulatively increased the working capital demand, making it difficult for the company to grow.

The supply chain team embarked on implementing Theory of Constraints (ToC) principles in the entire value stream to identify process improvement. We formed a task force team to look at problems through the ToC lens and prepare an action plan for the execution team. The team executed this over a year and delivered stellar results. The inventory holding reduced by 25%, aged inventory was cleared by more than 90%, declined the shelf expiry from 2 crores to 0.4. crore per year. The overall improvement and cost reduction resulted in more than 10 crore savings, around 25% contribution to the bottom line. The supply chain created a significant sustainable impact on the business by becoming leaner and agile in managing the materials. This efficiency drive significantly reduced the working capital (20%) and released the storage space, thus decreasing overall growth CAPEX requirement. The supply chain created a visible impact on operations and helped TAML secure new projects at optimal investment.

Saurabh Sehgal, General Manager (SCM - Head), Kama Ayurveda

US-based MNC India division had acquired the oral rehydration drink brand manufactured using Tetrapack technology from India business conglomerate in 2014. The brand had grown from 80 crores to around 400 crores by 2018. Rehydration drink packs production requires a lot of paper consumption both in Tetrapack and corrugated boxes (Inner trays (27 pc /tray) and outer cartons (3 trays or 81pc/carton). For environmental sustainability and cost optimization, we explored multiple options to reduce the consumption of paper. After numerous trials and experiments, we finalized the idea of eliminating the outer shipper and converting the inner trays to complete corrugated boxes (with artworks) and selling individual trays in the market. This is when project Sahaj (Simplification, Standardisation, Sustainability) came into being.

In the above idea, the sales team objected and confirmed that they could sell only in a pack of 3 trays (as a unit of sale) to customers/distributors to avoid any negative impact on sales. So, we cannot sell individual trays by removing outer cartons. To address the above issues, we implemented external shrink wrapping the three trays (boxes). Though the idea seems very simple, it involved an investment of over 40 lakhs on two shrink wrapping machines.

It was risky to invest such a significant amount (getting regional management approvals) and sell them w/o any trials. After many vendors hopping and persistence to make the project successful, we got hold of one vendor and got the trial done of shrink-wrapping of 3 trays (as one unit). Transit trials were super successful, and product proportion aligned with the sales and marketing team of single selling units to customers (3 trays as one unit), eliminating the need for outer shippers. This exercise resulted in 2 crores + savings per year and saved the equivalent of 21000+ trees. With 50% growth in sales of this brand in the last 3 years has resulted in annual savings of over 500K USD.

Abhishek Gautam, Senior Manager – Procurement, Nestle

Cost of distribution has been highly impacted due to steady increases in fuel prices since last year. Hence it becomes more essential to identify cost-saving opportunities. Freight backhauling is one of the projects initiated to identify opportunities to reduce distribution costs and carbon footprints, which aimed to support Nestle Net Zero Emission roadmaps. The project was kicked off by identifying lanes and raw/packaging suppliers who had significant contributions in inbound trucks at Nestle factories. Basis the existing RM/PM freight and required truck type, I initiated the RFQ process for RM/PM freight movement from suppliers to Nestle factories with our current freight service providers. We achieved a cost reduction of $0.5 million and achieved freight backhauling in 80% of addressable lanes. This project got recognized globally as well as at external forums. We are now in discussions with a few FMCGs to integrate common lanes.

Akhil Damodaran, Program Lead – Emergent Cluster, School of Business, University of Petroleum & Energy Studies

With no signs of relief from coronavirus and to protect India’s economy from taking a tailspin, the government announced Unlock 1.0. The challenge before the Indian Airports was to ensure social distancing and other guidelines to avoid crowds, especially at check-in counters, boarding gates, security check, pickup and drop off points, etc. To provide a solution to this, at The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, me and my team created an optimization tool called ‘AeroOpt,’ to optimize the queue management of passengers keeping COVID-19 social distancing norms. To develop the tool, we also got support from Aerotech support services to understand airport issues better. The management tool works on optimizing the airport infrastructure and staff requirements. It can improve the efficiency of counters, immigration, security, and boarding gates without compromising on social distancing norms. The tool scientifically calculates the optimum number of resources (staff, passengers, counters, queues, etc.) to be allocated to an airline in a given time so that airports follow Covid norms while knowing that they are utilizing their capacity at the level determined.

Anil Shah, Manager – Integrated Solution Sales, DP World

The COVID-19 pandemic has put global supply chains into the focus of a wider public. Each segment, community, or business got severely impacted due to supply chain disruptions, resulting in companies rethinking supply chains based on improved resilience, risk mitigation, and sustainability. In terms of resilience, all businesses must have visibility on their supply chain needs and velocity to swift between the alternate option to avoid the disruption. This will help to mitigate the risk associated with the business and supply chain. Supply chains have to be socially and environmentally sustainable to bring out the best from the value chain. The partnership of the supply & demand side of the value chain can make sustainability initiatives more feasible. Overcome these challenges can help supply chains to become star performers.

We learned many things during this pandemic, and it has allowed us to work towards a more agile, robust, and sustainable supply chain. Still, there is a lot of Artificial Intelligent potential, which remains untapped. This will rapidly change over the next couple of years, especially in supply chain use cases such as decision support and automation systems. AI's ability to derive insights and make recommendations from a vast amount of data will affect how supply chains work in the future. The next phase of growth will come through the collaborative approach of everyone involved in the value chain, and technology will play a vital role in bringing it all together.

Sushil Hinge, Manager - Supply Chain Management, Doctoral Scholar - S P Jain School of Global Management

Digitalization was a luxury before the pandemic, which has become a necessity today. When it comes to healthcare, delivery of life-saving goods is always a priority with lots of external challenges, which increased during this unprecedented situation. Moreover, there was no clarity about the status of Full Truck Load deliveries that increased the number of calls and emails from customers due to a lack of trust & transparency. We came up with the ‘Track ON’ - Live Digital Tracking of Full Truck Load Deliveries. The project is about the assigned drivers giving a missed call to a number that registers the driver’s number via SIM card. This enables us to track the registered drivers’ live location. Simultaneously, an SMS is sent to the customer with a link that tracks the driver’s exact location. This project was live on October 2, 2020, on account of Gandhi Jayanti with the symbol of Mahatma Gandhi’s spectacles as the theme of ‘Transparency.’ It won the hearts of many customers as the trust increased due to transparency and accuracy. Currently, this service has almost 99% utility and has drastically reduced unwanted calls about shipment status and late deliveries.

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