Expect bigger disruption in supply chains

Mr. Rizwan Soomar, CEO & Managing Director, Subcontinent, DP World

“Traditional sourcing and demand patterns are changing rapidly during this pandemic, and hence there is going to be an even bigger disruption and complexity in our customers’ supply chains,” elaborates Mr. Rizwan Soomar, CEO & Managing Director, Subcontinent, DP World  

The past few weeks have seen cargo blockage at ports and CFSs due to supply chain issues. How has been the scenario at DP World operated terminals in India?

As a global logistics company, our priority is to maintain the flow of goods for our customers across geographies. All port terminals, CFSs and inland rail freight terminals of DP World at Nhava Sheva, Mundra, Chennai, Cochin, Ahmedabad, NCR, Hazira and Hyderabad have been operating 24×7. These are supported by our rail operations, warehouses, 3PL and cold chain businesses across India to ensure uninterrupted operations.

We have been working closely with our customers and authorities, to ensure faster evacuation and delivery of cargo from all our terminals. We are leveraging multi-modal transportation, through our expertise in rail freight and first and last mile transportation by road to move goods seamlessly and speedily. As an example, our terminal at Cochin Port handled over 50,000 teus during the first 50 days of lockdown period. During this period, the terminal handled 19 container trains for the movement of essential goods and recorded an impressive four-fold growth in rail volumes.

Tell us about the digital initiatives at DP World?

At DP World, digitalization has been a big focus area and in these times the efforts have proved to be even more useful in ensuring that we stay in touch with clients as well as other stakeholders. We have been working towards developing an integrated platform to help our customers build more efficient, seamless, and transparent supply chains supported by standardized systems and processes across all our businesses through a uniform ERP system. We have successfully implemented Bharat Trade, a digital port community portal which enables seamless digital transactions and offers a single window to customers and other stakeholders, as well as ensures digital exchange of data on real-time basis at the port and inland terminals. During the lockdown period, the platform has seen significant increase in number of users and assisted the trade in facilitating swift and effective online transactions.

We have been driving innovation in our operations through technology adoption. For instance, at our Nhava Sheva terminal, remotely operated quay cranes and fully automated gate operations have facilitated contact-less operations, minimised the risks to our colleagues, customers and partners and enhanced safety.

Similarly, we have implemented Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Transportation Management System (TMS) for our cold chain and 3PL businesses, among other examples of several pilot projects that we are currently scaling up using blockchain, IOT and other useful digital technologies.

As the global community resumes operations in the new normal, what will be your strategy going forward?

Due to this pandemic, the traditional sourcing and demand patterns are changing rapidly, and hence there is going to be an even bigger disruption and complexity in our customers’ supply chains. At DP World, our endeavour is to constantly innovate to provide elasticity and cost effectiveness in supply chain solutions, to meet the changing needs of our customers. We have a team of world-class professionals, who are working towards gaining deeper insights into our customers’ business needs. This enables us to provide our customers with solutions that are responsive, flexible, scalable, and cost-effective, without compromising on reliability and effectiveness. We leverage our digital ecosystem to support these solutions and provide insights to our customers to make their supply chains lean and agile.

We have already built a strong network of assets across rail, ports, inland terminals, cold chain, express cargo, and shipping. We have specialized warehousing assets like CFSs, PFTs, FTWZs, and temperature-controlled warehouses, which we will continue to develop further.

What are some of the initiatives you have undertaken for employees during COVID19? 

Our people are our biggest strength and their safety & wellbeing is our utmost priority. However, as a provider of essential services, we have also continued operations at all our locations. To safeguard our people’s health, we have implemented robust preventive safety measures at all our facilities. These include mandatory temperature checks, social distancing at workplace and cafeterias, special arrangements for commuting as well as arrangements for food and accommodation as needed, and as per directives from State and Central governments. We have also facilitated work-from-home for some of our staff depending on the nature of their work.

In addition, we have set up a Telemedicine helpline for our organization. Our employees can speak to qualified doctors in case they need any consultation on medical emergencies, as well as advice and assistance on symptoms and treatment of COVID-19.

We are also utilising this time to upskill our employees, by way of mobile learning applications as well as through other virtual platforms. Continuing to invest in our employees is a big priority for us at DP World, and doing so in these times is even more necessary for ensuring they have the cutting-edge toolkit to safeguard themselves, as well as ensuring they continue to give their best to our customers.

We have also ensured several employee engagement activities through virtual platforms, so that our employees always feel connected, supported, and aligned with the business and community goals at DP World. It is critically important that we keep our morale high, so that we continue to ensure that our customers continue to win in their marketplace.

What are the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives you have undertaken?

At DP World, we are committed to support the local communities around us. We have initiated various programmes to support the less privileged people of our society during the ongoing crisis.

We have partnered with Akshaya Patra to provide free cooked meals to thousands of families across the country, as numerous fellow citizens from our economically weaker section of the society do not have access to food and other necessities. We have also partnered with and continue to actively support several other NGOs to distribute masks, sanitizers, medicines, and dry ration to those in need.

Regular food supplies are being provided to the communities living in and around our facilities across India as well. This assistance is making a very meaningful difference to the families, as we commit to support them throughout this crisis.