Auto Industry Looks at Railways, Waterways for Handling Logistics

Auto Industry Looks at Railways, Waterways for Handling Logistics

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) held its 4th SIAM Automotive Logistics Conclave, a two-day event which concluded yesterday, where delegates discussed emerging challenges in India’s fast moving automotive logistics sector and called for concerted efforts from the industry players and the government, especially the Indian Railways, for sustainable development of the sector.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the annual event of SIAM Automotive Logistics Conclave themed ‘Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics,’ Dr Abhay Firodia, President, SIAM & Chairman, Force Motors Ltd., said developments in the sector are happening at a very exciting pace in these changing times with active participation of the government. “Presence of Chairman, Railway Board here indicates that the government is desirous to be pro-active to smoothen and transitioning to the new era. The Railways has been a major catalyst and a lever in transformation of our country. It has the power to move things, people and freight, which have huge impact on efficiency and cost,” said Dr Firodia.

Terming Indian Railways as the movers of nation, Mr Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, assured the industry that he is trying to bring in culture of work at Railways and has initiated the process of reforms. He said the Indian Railways is poised for a change, in the way it conducts its business. “We do have issues and we are aware of it. We are trying to focus on these issues and so have initiated the process of reforms. It is a changing time for the nation. You will see a paradigm shift that will come in Indian Railways. We will spare no effort in improving the interaction with automobile industry in meeting their logistics needs,” said Mr Lohani.

“We want private investments in this segment. We have a scheme of entering in long term partnerships. The long term contract agreement will help reduce logistic cost. This is the new policy. We at Indian Railways are looking at different ways of conducting business. Currently we move 1100 million tonnes of freight a year and 25 million passengers a day. We understand that the manufacturing of vehicles has gone up and so the requirement of logistics is crucial for the sector. Automobiles are a symptom of how our economy is doing,” said Mr Lohani.

Mr S K Gangwar, Member (Technical), Inland Waterways Authority of India, while speaking at a session on Waterways and Shipping, urged the logistics industry to suggest and give their feedback on their expectations from the government. “We are planning to start with some inland service soon. We will soon come out with it. The movement of cargo through waterway is more economical than road, especially for long distances,” said Mr Gangawar. India has a navigable length of around 14500 km, of which 5,200 km of river and 4,000 km of canals can be used as mode of water transportation. However, total cargo moved in India is just 0.1 % of the total inland traffic in India, while it is over 20 % in U.S.

Mr Sunil K Chaturvedi, CEO, Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC) called for a need to have adequate planning, implementing, storing, controlling and ensuring efficient and effective movement of parts and vehicles. He said there is a need and scope for Indian specific research work in automotive logistics. For auto logistics, there are 214 training centres across 23 states where 62,153 trainees are enrolled and 40,751 trainees are certified. Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC) has been a mandate to bridge skill gaps and enabling sustained growth of automotive sector.

Mr S M Andaleeb Razi, Director (Freight Marketing), Railway Board stated that Indian Railways is willing to partner in the change which would happen in the coming years. “For Indian Railways automobile sector is a priority area. We are looking at increasing Railway’s share from 4-5 % to 12 % by 2020 and 25 % later. We are also going to have auto hub under PPP model and this is being taken up very seriously. We will have better designed wagons which will increase throughput of vehicles transport.  We will be increasing the height of our wagons to accommodate SUVs. Two wheelers segment too has huge scope and we are working on it as well,” Mr Razi explained.

Mr H.D Gujrati, Director, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd termed the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) as a game changer for the transport industry. “It will help in faster movement of goods, guaranteed transit time. This will create huge capacity and create huge employment. We expect the share of Indian Railways in transportation sector to increase from 30 % to 45 % with the coming up of DFC. This will also augment value added services and supply chain management.

The two day conclave on ‘Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics’ had sessions on Opportunities and Challenges, Waterways and Shipping, Road Transportation, Railways- Terminals, Policies & Technology.  Around 120 delegates from vehicle manufacturers and logistics service providers participated in the event.