The Organization: With 52 percent market share in the organized air express industry in India, Blue Dart Express is the benchmark in express logistics services in India and is miles ahead of the next closest competitor. Here's a company that prides itself on its use of technology. In fact, Anil Khanna, MD of the company, once said, "You need to build a strong technology system. Technology is what helps us deliver delightful customer service and attain new customers." Daniel Matthews, GM-Systems, Blue Dart, has been one of the key persons to help ingrain this vision into the work culture of the company for the past 20 years.
The Business Case: With a pan-India presence, Blue Dart handled over 126 million shipments and 513,474 tonnes of cargo as on March 31, 2014 across 34,138 locations. This was achieved by leveraging a network of five aircrafts, and 8,703 vehicles.
As the economy forced business across the world to tighten their purse strings, Blue Dart started to evaluate ways in which it could improve the supply chain. "What happens between first and last mile of the network needs to be in our control and we knew we could play a direct role in improving that," says Matthews. The routes traversed by the trucks for delivery were also quite dynamic. "There was a lot of dependence on the intelligence of the manual systems to pick up the best route," says Matthews.
The problem was further compounded by the nature of the deliveries. Some had premium shipments riding on them that were required to be delivered quicker than the other shipments. Some consignments were temperature controlled which had to be delivered faster and many others had specific delivery instructions such as, a specific time window when the receiver was available to accept the package.
The Solution: As a part of the DPDHL group, Blue Dart experimented with the routing solution that DHL had implemented in Europe. But that wouldn't be effective in India. "In Europe, addresses are very well structured. Also, in India, we do not have the same precise lane-level GIS information that is regularly updated," says Matthews. That's when it was decided to develop a unique version within the company.
The First Step: The first step was to modify the algorithm to recognize the Indian address system which was a difficult process. It was an enormous task to help the system understand that 'Richmond Road' or 'Richmond Rd' were basically the same place.
The middleware would then incorporate this information against the pincodes and the geo codes, to build a pan-India address mapping system. "This allowed us to mark and plot the packages even before they arrived in the destination city saving us the time taken to manually segregate them," says Matthews.
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