Banking big on rail business

Being the pioneer in moving steel products on rail under SFTO scheme, TMILL has elaborate plans to add more rakes while expand the cargo it moves on them, explains Ashish Kumar Gupta, MD, TM International Logistics Ltd.

Q You are the first company in steel products movement, participating in the SFTO scheme. How has been the experience so far?

 We are the first company to operate SFTO on commercial basis for finished product movement of steel. Operations commenced from April 2017. We inducted three rakes in FY 17 – 18 and there are plans for induction of further rakes in FY 18-19 as well. In the initial days, the rake turnaround was higher than our estimate but over the next few months we worked closely with Railways to streamline the movement. We are in the process of inducting more rakes.

 Q You are bringing in specialised wagons and have also increased the size of rake. What savings will it make in the cost of moving steel?

 The SFTO Policy is premised on induction of specialised rakes for niche cargo movement by private operators. We initially commenced operations by inducting BFNS 22.9 Tonne axle load design wagons for steel coil movement which carried 10 per cent more cargo than the earlier designs. This design can carry up to 2709 Tonne of cargo.

 Subsequently, Indian Railways introduced a new design wagon with nomenclature of BFNSM 22.9 Tonne axle load which can carry close to 4000 Tonne of steel coil per rake. This new design not only simplifies logistics, (by using less number of rakes for same quantum of cargo), but also costs lower on per metric tonne basis when compared to the earlier design. Further the design of new wagon is such that coils of large diameter and tonnage (30 – 32 Tonne) can be safely transported. In future all mills being commissioned in the country will produce large diameter and higher tonnage coils, which can only be transported by these rakes. We are actively looking forward to conversion of Indian Railways system to 25 t axle loads, which will augment the capacity of these rakes by additional 9 per cent.

 Q Tell us about the cargo moved by TMILL at Haldia, Paradip and Gangavaram Ports last year? TMILL operates Berth No 12 in Haldia Port for handling steel and limestone and we also supervise cargo handling at other berths in Haldia, Paradip and Gangavaram Ports, on behalf of Tata Steel. We also handle cargo for companies like Tata Metaliks and Tata sponge. In FY 16-17 we handled and managed 7.5 million tonne of cargo which was 6.9 million tonne the year before (FY 15 -16). In FY 17 – 18, we have already handled 7.7 million tonne of cargo in 11 months.

Q Beyond operating for Tata Steel, what are your plans to expand rail services?

We are planning to expand customer base for steel movement for other steel producers in India. Further, we are studying fly ash movement in special wagons between power plant and cement plants. We also plan to induct rakes for movement of iron, coal etc for steel plants. We’re keen to be a large investor in rail business for bulk commodities and steel. We also want to move cars under the AFTO policy.

Q Could you please elaborate on the port calls and cargo moved by International Shipping & Logistics? ISL handles around 220 worldwide port calls moving an average of around 4 Million tonnes of cargo- primarily handling coal, limestone, cement, clinker, grains and various minerals. Countries of call include China, South East Asia, Middle East including Red Sea, India, East Africa & Australia

 Q How is the warehousing business performing? Which are the cargo coming to the warehouses and which are the hinterland served?

Our warehousing business is focussed on Tata Steel and has historically been catering to purely warehousing solutions – dealing with storage for consumables of plant as well as project cargo. However, we are now graduating to a supply chain management model- warehousing being an integral part of the Chain. TMILL’s warehousing division currently caters to Tin Plate Company and Agrico division of TSL in addition to Tata Steel.

Q Tell us about your inland logistics services?

TMILL currently executes the transportation leg of inbound containers from Ports to Tata Steel plants to both Jamshedpur and Kalinganagar. Further, we are exploring supply chain solutions wherein inland transportation (and outbound movement for finished products)will also be a part of the broader solution. We also provide end to end services for large project cargoes, including ODC shipments within India. We will formally enter road transport business in FY19.