The nominations we received for the Celerity 40-Under-40 and 30-Under-30 this year were high on innovative quotient. Showcasing their winning streaks in their extensive submission forms, affirmed jury members’ confidence that the next generation of supply chain in the country is truly BEST IN CLASS, exhibiting all the prerequisites of exceptional supply chain leaders of the future. In this part 1 we reveal the innovative might of 19 of 34 winners which led them to win the most coveted trophy of the year.

The selection was based on meticulously crafted and developed grading system.

The responses of each nominee were graded based on their career growth, innovations implemented, projects done and their impact on their organization. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Grand Jury members who painstakingly evaluated each entry and then deliberated on their decisions.


Sarthak Prakash, Senior Commodity Manager, GE Gas Power, General Electric:

As the Regional Program Manager for GE‘s world class supply chain career accelerator program, I have had the unique opportunity to lead and coach high potential OMLP associates deputed across GE’s sites in India. Operations Management Leadership Program (OMLP) is designed for the development of entry-level talent hired from premier institutions and produce leaders capable of meeting the supply chain challenges facing GE. OMLP is a two-year program that allows members to build leadership and functional skills through challenging rotational assignments and world-class training. Through these job assignments and training, program members are involved in GE’s strategic initiatives, including the company-wide drive for Lean Six Sigma.

The current batches of OMLPs are working across the aviation, grid, healthcare, power, and renewable energy sites in India, across areas such as shop operations, process engineering, lean manufacturing, sourcing, materials management, environmental health and safety, and quality management. They are most often at the forefront of driving innovative breakthroughs as well as continuous improvement initiatives at their respective assignments, solving the challenges that matter most to GE businesses and to GE customers.

Mayur Chhabra, Head –Warehousing, Distribution & Operational sourcing, Field Fresh Foods Pvt. Ltd. (Del Monte)

Organized trade servicing had been an area of interest since my stint with Nestle way back in 2008. At Del Monte, we had been struggling with our Fill Rates & OTIFs and as a result, not only we were losing revenues but also were not gaining any confidence from any e-commerce/modern trade chains. Therefore I identified organized retail recalibration as a Project & started working on it, deep diving and getting into thick of the things, wherein following actions were initiated and as a result today we are standing tall as an organization with most of the e-commerce/ modern trade partners.

  • Moved away from Indirect (distributor mode) supplies to Direct DC supplies, thereby not only saving on distributor margins but also having complete clarity over order book
  • Initiated scientific norms for each distribution Centre & thereafter started Reservation of SKUs basis Pareto analysis, A.B.C Classification
  • Watertight process for monitoring on time supplies & adherence of bay bookings
  • Customer collaboration – Initiated meetings with customers wherein SCM / Sales represented the organization jointly, thereby leaving no scope for any ambiguities.

As on date, our organized retail business is poised to generate double digit revenue growths for us, furthermore our OTIF scores had improved month on month, enabling us to gain market share especially during current pandemic wherein only the organizations with capabilities to ensure continuous supplies had an edge over the competition.

Mohit Nawany, Director, ASL Logistics Pvt Ltd. (Nawany Group)

Cement being a dusty commodity, it becomes difficult to track the print on the bag. Hence, we started tagging cement lots with colored flags, the color depending on the batch of the product. A simple but effective method helped us to maintain FIFO without much effort. Being a fan of Formula One racing, my pitstop strategy was implemented by us at our workshop for preventive maintenance of vehicles on longer routes. This ensured minimum down time and also enhanced the life of our vehicles. 

Our innovative debagging solution of cutting a bag of 50 kgs cement and loading in bulker tanks was an absolute game changer for our clients who cater to Mumbai market from leads over 500 kms. These services were provided at a railhead and has helped our client companies to establish their presence in the largest demand centre of the country. We adopted cloud-based software back in 2014 when it was relatively unheard of for SMEs. This allowed us to operate with minimum paper records and also gave us easy access to relevant data at anytime from anywhere. 

To play to our business strength in the construction as well as logistics industry, I am currently leading our group’s expansion into setting up an integrated logistics park in the Bhiwandi region under the MIDC policy. Phase 1 is proposed development of 1 million sqft grade A warehousing. Incorporating forward and backward integration has given me deep insights into the functioning of the industry, thereby enabling me to understand processes and problems better. Developing new markets for brands has helped me in fostering deep relationships with these companies and made us synonymous with bulk cement supply.

Charish Puri, Assistant General Manager, Ashok Leyland Ltd.

In automotive industry, aftermarket supply chain plays a stellar role to ensure maximum uptime of vehicles, for which spare parts availability at service network is the vital differentiator. Driven by the objective to improve availability of spare parts with channel parts, new project was initiated to transform aftermarket supply chain and move from “forecast based system” to “consumption-based system” by implementing "Theory of Constraints" and named as SPARKFlow.

Scope of this project covers parts complexity of nearly 100,000 SKUs, 600 supplier partners, 600 customers, entire product range covering BS I to BS VI parts, warehouse management and transportation. Entire process was automated from “order generation at customer end” to “schedule release at supplier end”. 

Prior to SPARKFlow, owing to poor forecast accuracy, the warehouses and the channel partners held huge dead stocks, accompanied by loss of sales due to unavailability of moving stocks. The channel partners held smaller range of spares and this impacted timely availability of parts for vehicle repair. In SPARKFlow, we worked on network designing, stocking norms, allocation & buffer management algorithm to improve availability. Tagging suppliers to the nearest warehouse, establishing inventory norms at every warehouse and channel partner outlet and automatic consumption-based ordering helped in streamlining the supply chain and preventing the creation of dead stocks. Through a revamped network of 4 warehouses, we achieved replenishment time of 10 days throughout the network. Despite sales getting doubled over the past 3 years, channel inventory reduced by 25 days.

In years’ time, we achieved on-ground results with reduction of stock across supply chain framework from 42% to 15%, accompanied by reduction in warehouse stocks from 55 days to 20 days. This covers more than 35000 SKUs for service against legacy of 15000 SKUs (130% increase). Increasing range of parts covered under SPARKFlow is reducing the number of vehicle off road cases, thereby preventing the risk of production interruptions for emergency orders.

Dr Abhijit Singh, Executive Director, Indian Ports Association (IPA)

Bureaucracy inherently carries creative inertia for any change – big or small. Weberian bureaucracy is best suited to perform routine work and not to think outside the box. Innovation and bureaucracy are supposedly mutually exclusive. Growing inequalities pose a huge challenge to the change-resistant and status-quo bureaucracy. This reflects that policymaking, especially in the developing country like India, urgently needs innovation. However, bureaucracy is ill-equipped to usher in big reforms and innovate due to various reasons ranging from structural issues, vested interests of various elite stakeholders, absence of lateral entries from industry, negligible association with academia, improper framework and so on. Innovation in policymaking has not been much focused on in India. Policymaking as an exercise exhibits incrementalism. However, big changes happen now and then, which are termed as policy innovations.

In capacity of Executive Director at Indian Ports Association(IPA), an apex body of Major Ports under the administrative control of Ministry of Shipping, the role of a change agent, he is acting as a catalyst to push innovative ideas and usher in reforms into the heart of top-level in the government. He is closely involved in the policy decision-making process to bring sectoral reforms by making ports as drivers of economic change, saving logistic cost & time, easing port congestion, enhancing employability, capacity building and modernizing of ports. He is also regarded as an ambassador for Indian maritime sector, representing IPA, Major Ports of India and Ministry of Shipping at a various national and international forum like ASSOCHAM, FICCI, UN-IMO, BIMSTEC, SASEC etc. He has made many noteworthy contributions in matters and professional work pertaining to MoS particularly for PSC, Parliament questions, Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), various Committees on maritime reforms, Prime Minister Office directions, Ministry of Commerce initiatives, NITI Aayog reforms and various allied Indian government agencies queries. He was instrumental in drafting Maritime Indian Vision Document-2030 consisting of revolutionary ideas and innovative approaches to transforming maritime India. He encouraged innovation in the sector by providing intellectual contributions to the Entrepreneurship Development Program for coastal community and framed concept on Sagarmala Startup and Innovation Initiative (S2I2) for flagship programs like the multi-billiondollar Sagarmala program. He also outlined innovative measures, in line with UNIMO Sustainable Development Goals, for Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines of Major Ports with a potential direct and indirect impact on 7.65 Billion lives of coastal community and environment. He continuously tries to strive and identify the key areas for change strategies and opportunities that might impact the Indian maritime sector growth, by providing innovative ideas, input to final and key decisions. He is regarded as ‘Youth Icon’ and followed by approx. 10 lakh direct-indirect maritime professionals’ in various social media platforms.

Ashish Bhatnagar, Senior Manager, Procurement, Nestle India

I am an Agri Business professional with hands on experience in handling huge volumes of commodities trade and procurement for Brands like Maggi, Cerelac and Aashirvaad. I was instrumental in designing and initiating new models of procurement for grains at Nestle, which led to strategic advantage in sourcing. In addition, I was the RM procurement lead for Organic launch of Nestle Nutrition, which was one of the first launches of its kind for the organization, wherein, our team was instrumental in charting out the sourcing strategy and network from scratch for organic raw materials. At Nestle, I have also led my team in the initiatives like Responsible sourcing, e-invoicing proactively and contributed beyond my immediate sphere of influence.

I was Procurement lead for SAP implementation Project at ITC and helped in development of new tools including optimizer for Wheat Business. An optimizer is a tool, which recommends best cost buying source for each of the factories considering supply, price, quality and other constraints. I was also a part of team, which identified and implemented railway incentive schemes across the locations providing saving of 10% to 30% in incremental freight cost. This gave direct competitive advantage vs competitors in both trade as well as sourcing.

Jitender Lalit, GM – Warehouse & Dispatch, Welspun Limited

At Raymond, we implemented FMS (Freight Management System) successfully, which helped ease operations and optimized costs. Levers of FMS are:

  • End to End Visibility – Visibility across supply chain partners, including suppliers, contract manufacturers, transportation carriers, third-party logistics, distributors, and dealers
  • Real-time Tracking – through collaborative & real time information sharing
  • Early warning alerts and exception management – to resolve supply chain disruptions before they disrupt the business
  • Predictive and prescriptive decision-support – using predictive and prescriptive analytics
    • Cost Optimization Ensured - In deciding Full Truck Load (FTL) or Part Truck Load (PTL) will be economical
    • Speed or Cost – In comparing and finalizing the most economical or fastest LSP
    • Optimize Route – In deciding a smart route after considering all practical constraints across all Supply Chain Partners
    • Optimize Space – In optimizing the space by maximizing the truck fill rate, prescribing the right mix of items that needs to be picked for optimum truck fill rate
  • Autonomous decision making and control – to take the robot out of the human and boost productivity & self-correcting supply chain with decision making and machine learning.

Prachi Misra, Senior Director, Refinitiv Ltd

NCR had to work in collaboration with Strategic Partner Trizma to create Centre of Excellence at a low-cost location - Serbia. NCR's Customer Care Centre (CCC) was distributed across 135 locations. There was not a unified process that could support all the staff, and customers across mentioned locations. Our key objective was to consolidate the Customer Care Centre in one location to improve quality and consistency. Procurement, Services Organization and Strategic Partner Trizma worked as a team for establishment of Centre of Excellence. This project was one of the two finalists at CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain) Awards.

The CoE creation key objectives were to:

  • Support NCR's services portfolio across 160 countries with employees who could speak 17 languages
  • Introduce a scalable services model, where the CoE can support NCR's end retail, and financial customers that contribute to $6 billion in revenue per year
  • Bring together all supporting functions - service operations and service desks, intelligent dispatch team (logistic coordinators, parts planning, dispatch teams) to reduce machine downtime and to improve customer experience
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing between all CoE team members and retain regional knowledge in relevant regions
  • Introduce new market trends (Robotics/Omnichannel Strategies), and scale if the pilot proved successful
  • Redesign processes to deliver consistent and exceptional customer experience.

The CoE saved business significant amount of money over five years and became strongly integrated in the company culture so that NCR could maintain its low-cost operations, while delivering high value services to external and internal customers. 

Kumar Gaurav, Head - Supply Chain, Infiniti Retail Limited (Tata Croma)

I have worked on multiple projects with my team, which were based on process optimization as per business requirements (resolution of customer issues in B2C environment) and improved profitability. At Snapdeal, while analyzing customer complaints for Order Fulfilment process, we found that there were complaints in two major buckets – wrong product delivery and quality issues in delivered items. When we did Root Cause Analysis of these issues in Fulfilment Center operations, we found that multiple touchpoints in Order Fulfilment Lifecycle were not synchronized and quality check of the product was missing at outbound before packaging. Work line balancing from order fulfilment required alignment to avoid interim bottlenecks. We carried out time motion study & VA-NVA Analysis to remove redundant steps from order fulfilment process.

To avoid working on multiple screens for order processing, we redesigned inhouse WMS UI. We analyzed count of scans and clicks for order processing and optimized as per inputs from the operator. Packaging table was re-designed considering packaging operator’s ergonomics and packaging tools required by the operator for overall productivity improvement (Items packed per hour). In addition, we planned for arranging packaging SKUs on the newly designed packaging table at one-hand reach of the operator. Outbound processing area layout was re-designed across all fulfilment centres. For quality check at outbound (prior to packaging of product in secondary container), system driven outbound QC with proper reason tagging was designed in WMS screen. These inputs helped in refining and strengthening our inbound QC.

In addition, we tried to optimize on packaging and delivery cost by managing ship-together for items of same order with proper system-based packaging recommendation (basis volumetric dimensions of the product and standardization of packaging SKUs). This information was captured in WMS screen during packaging process. We were able to bring considerable reduction in Wrong Product Delivery and improvement in manpower productivity. We achieved increased packaging compliance (packaging box suggested vs used), which helped in reduction of cost per delivered shipment. Ergonomically designed packaging table was implemented in Fulfilment Center operations of Ajio and B2B e-commerce.

Pradeep Ahuja, Head – Copra Procurement, Marico Ltd.

Innovations in Procurement space can be of varied types – process automation, redefining current procurement models, experimenting & introducing novel sourcing models, continuously innovating ways for strengthening SRM, enhancing productivity, etc. Two such key initiatives that we did in our domain: 

Process Automation – We pioneered work of automating Copra making process (currently 100% manual & solar energy depended across global geographies) and developed pilot automated machine, reducing labor need & conversion time. Team worked around multiple challenges like replicating manual skills into machine motion, developing commercially viable rugged design leading to an automated solution. In shorts, an efficient drying mechanism enabled a scalable model.

Novel Sourcing Model – Basis need identification of small farmers in remote locations, we launched Mobile Collection Centres (CC) based upon farm gate buying/ collection concept. This eliminates constraint/need of the farmer bringing material to our collection centres and also enables a deeper Penetration for us in remote geographies, enhancing sourcing capability & supply assurance. 

Rahul Bhimrajka, DGM – Customer Service & Distribution, Mohan Clothing Corporation Pvt. Ltd. (Blackberrys Menswear)

When I was working on a pilot project ‘abrogation of the process of reserving merchandise by channels for future demand’, there were myriad challenges along the way. This included: Analysis of demand correctly: The first step was to analyze the available inventory and checked the cut sizes of an article if any and we observed that ~55% of the available articles were in cut sizes. These stocks were lying in respective bins. If we

merge the inventory, then the cut sizes would drop to ~35% and that would help in further movement of inventory to the channels. Also, if we bring the articles under single umbrella, then the remaining cut size articles could be replenished to any channel as per the actual sale. Alignment with the stakeholders: Secondly, Channels’ Business Heads were not interested to let go their reserved stocks as that would have meant the sale loss of their channel (in case a demand came in the near future). So, alignment with the Channels’ Business Heads became important for me to make this project a success.

To overcome the challenge, I aligned with Brand Heads (they do the buying in the organization) first and showed them the analysis and convinced them on the serviceability to the channels. Invariably, channels were bound to get benefited if we unreserved the inventory, which Channel heads were reluctant to accept. After aligning with the brand heads, I gathered much weight behind me to re-discuss with channels heads and showed them, this time, they all agreed, though reluctantly.

With the success of this project, now everyone is convinced to abrogate after a month into the season and allocate/replenish the inventory, basis sales & there won’t be any reservation of stocks for any channels. This will also help in reducing the inventory level at the company level by min ~10%. We buy stocks for Rs250 crore and this will help in saving Rs25 crore.

Gaurav Bhatia, Associate Director, Cipla

Myself with the support of my team & cross-functional teams like IT, QA & RA had developed “IMPACT online” Report. This report has the following advantages:

  • Seamlessly connected with the SAP ERP (single source of truth across Organization- Business to Production to logistics)
  • It gives end to end visibility of each stage to all cross-functions & most importantly to the business team.
  • It applies multiple checks & balance on availability of manufacturing records (BMR/ BPR) & Regulatory approvals – Gives an alert if not already done.
  • Procurement Report gives date of material availability for the last available material. Hence, you know when the last material is available so as to accordingly plan the production
  • Last but not the least, Back calculates basis ETDs and highlights the risks in achieving OTIF, with Red, Black, Yellow, Green colors status and defining the status for the same. Orders & respective actions can then be prioritized basis the above status, with complete end to end visibility available in front of supply chain. It helped to bring “ARV” in the entire supply chain organization:

A - Agility | R – Reliability / Resilience | V - Visibility / Velocity

In short, companies can become trusted business partner by building a best-in class, customer focused, innovative, technology and data driven supply chain - built on the pillars of Agility, Reliability, Resilience and Velocity.


Spandan Rout, Analyst, Ford Motors – Global Data Insights & Analytics

As part of the New model parts identification & forecasting project, we had to identify the critical to stock parts during a new vehicle launch in the market, which will enable us to reduce back-orders as well as the cost of shock transportation and thereby enhancing customer satisfaction.

To begin with, we start characterizing or building parameters of various indicators in regions where the new model is to be launched, parameters such as geographical region, climatic trends, population behavior & demography. Experience with previous model launches is indispensable, thus making it the key parameter. The new model to-be launched is compared to the previous models based on various parameters mentioned above and finally top 3 matches are chosen for analysis. The top 3 models chosen are then analyzed for their parts sales pattern, driving pattern and historical vehicle sales pattern. Cumulative insights from the data are taken together to shape a forecast for the next 12 months involving various parts using various machine learning models.

Basis the ideation process, we developed an all-inclusive model, which only needs the input as New-Model-Parts list and would give the result of those CTS (Criticalto-stock) parts list and corresponding quantity. This is the first of its kind package, which forecasts the requirements for the next 12 months even before a model is launched owing to which it helped garner savings up to 54% of the cost and at the same time reap customer satisfaction by facilitating on time delivery of service parts.

Nitin Davessar, Manager - Supply Chain, Zed LifeStyle (Beardo)

Traditionally, majority of the New Product Development in Marico is done in-house, with R&D teams working on the formulations and packaging. The ambitious ask in front of us, however, was to significantly crunch the time to market while catering to multiple categories. Hence, a new model of innovation was required. 

I took this opportunity to implement the "Connect & Develop" model of innovation, wherein we were able to match NPD requirements with the developed product & packaging formats available in both domestic and international markets. With this, the company was able to strengthen its male grooming & skincare portfolios with multiple product launches. Within a year, we successfully launched 25 new products, yielding INR 3Cr+ in sales.

This time to market is being pushed even further with my current stint at Beardo where we constantly challenge industry norms to ensure that the brand is always relevant in solving ever-changing consumer needs.

Radharaman Jha, Head – Supply Chain, Chalhoub Group

“Amount of “Data” we captured in supply chain has grown exponentially in last decade, however retailers have not been able to leverage the same for true omnichannel supply chain transformation in line with the customer expectation. We have setup supply chain analytics functions to drive SC transformation journey across – Demand Planning, Supply Planning, Inventory Optimization & Segmentation, Markdown Optimization, Sell thru & OTIF Improvement, etc. Also, we are using this to bring innovation in fulfillment & last mile through automation to become globally competitive retailer.

Anjana Singh, Category Specialist, Beroe-Inc

Over the past few years, series of unfortunate macroeconomic events led to severe supply disruptions of refractory raw materials and related finished products. This imbalance in the market led to unforeseen price volatility and a reduced negotiation potential for prospective large scale buyers. Globally, buyers are looking out for is a checklist of mitigation measures for a similar scenario. As I track the category on a periodic basis, I understand the commodity, concern supply chain and the pricing mechanism. This helped me develop a white paper, ‘Supply and Pricing of Refractories: A Checklist’, enlisting certain proactive measures a buyer can consider before placing orders. The so developed whitepaper is made available, free of cost through #thinkfree campaign.

Saket Srivastava, Supply Planning Manager, Roquette India Pvt Ltd

We innovatized SKUs by harmonizing the portfolio basis product specifications & monthly demand pattern, which resulted in the improvement in plant efficiency by less changeovers & Warehouse space utilization inventory optimization by setting safety stock norms for better customer service. We have developed detailed scheduling basis schedules (orders) & future plan as per forecast to follow the plan with factories. We did MPS process implementation for weekly checks on production and rough cut capacity planning for short term basis rolling demand/forecast. For Exports, we developed the MTO model to optimize warehouse space & better inventory turns. It helped in maximizing plant efficiency with limited and longer runs with defined lead time to follow & setting right expectations with customers basis destination. For Imports, we initiated in-depth SKU wise PSI (Production, Sales & Inventory) analysis for in-transit & volume to order visibility basis reorder level.

Jobin Joseph Zachariah, Logistics Analyst – API Division, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, Hyderabad

1. Along with my team, 1. implemented OTM Platform: Customs Brokerage in line with E-Sanchit Program. As conventional process begins to shift towards the demands of internet age, companies/supply chain professionals alike should perceive the ways in which these technologies are beginning to transform the logistics ecosystem. In view of this objective, we have implemented our cloudbased solution, which helps in automating most processes by reducing manual interference and improves comprehensive efficiency in the total process flow while ensuring transparency into the system. The New Techo-Enabled Model has helped in identifying the horizons of smart working culture by keeping old conventional model into redundancy. Highlights include:

  • System based LSP Selection
  • System based data Repository
  • System enabled 3 Hierarchy Level Rate Approval: Once Rate got approved, it will be directly sent to EBS for accounting purpose
  • Audit department to spend less time on reviewing and documenting
  • High Level of Transaction visibility till GRN (Good Received Note)

2. CFS Consolidation activity: In terms of imports, Vishakhapatnam is where we get most of our cargos. In scope of that, we have developed a special contract with CFS/Terminal, which enabled savings of closely 30 Lakhs Annually. Earlier, this sum was given by CFSs to CHAs as an incentive in return for nominating respective CFSs. Although, we can’t use DPD Mode (Direct Port Delivery) all the time as our business strategy requires CFS support. But during this micro-project, we have identified the scopes of savings, which ultimately benefits our company.

Nivedita Jha, Sr. Executive, Johnson and Johnson

In 2019, I got the opportunity to lead the Supply Chain Innovation Project “INSPIRE (Indenting and Stamping Process Improvement for Government Reimbursed Business)”. This was very exciting project with high business impact. We could bring out-of-box solution by conducting hackathon within cross-functional team.

Business Challenges: Government Reimbursed Business is growing well and due to unique customization needs for each order, complexity index for supply chain is very high. There was a need to optimize the supply chain to reduce lead time, reduce cost of customization and improving compliance by making product tamper-proof.

Innovative solutions we delivered:

  • Implemented Innovative Tamper-proof packaging solution at minimal extra-cost & convenience of implementation on shop floor.
    • Used Tamper proof stickers on the product (Industry benchmarking)
    • Smart-Artwork change (combination artworks / Printing Technology)
    • Implemented serialization with no extra cost
    • Implemented Image Master – Online Image Master implementation helped in empowering Site Quality and hence reduced approval lead time by 1 day.
  • Control Tower Implementation – To monitor the end to end re-packaging process, our supply chain implemented control tower (excel based on-line tool). This helped us in identifying the process gaps / constraints and reduced the lead time significantly.

In another project, we also implemented Quality Management Module to further strengthen quality standards and compliance. We used latest technology like Winshuttle in this project. These simpler innovations are helping to add more value to business and at the same time, inspiring us to keep improving our skill sets.

Editor's Note: This is the first part of the Celerity Supply Chain e-Conference and Awards event which happened virtually on 09th October 2020. Stay tuned for the January - February 2021 issue which will conclude with insights from one more panel discussion and profile of the rest of the winners.

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