Logistics

‘Infrastructure is India’s biggest supply chain challenge’

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on November 19, 2013 Published on November 19, 2013

Rick Blasgen, President & CEO, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals

The Government has an opportunity to look at water, rail and road systems and connect them with ports. Rick Blasgen, President & CEO, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals





Rick Blasgen heads the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), a US-based global body that conducts research and training programmes for the sector. While in Kolkata for a CSCMP seminar, Blasgen spoke about the challenges of supply chain management (SCM), regulatory environment, rural markets and e-commerce. Edited excerpts:

What challenges do you see in India’s SCM system?

The biggest challenge is (poor) infrastructure. More can be accomplished if there’s better infrastructure and the ability to scale up to get products to the villages. For example, the Food Security Bill that has been passed needs to be implemented. How to get rice and food grains to the villages remains an SCM challenge. There’s going to be a huge opportunity once infrastructure bottlenecks are removed. This country has the potential to come up as a supply chain centre of excellence for the world.

What is your suggestion for companies to overcome hinterland access problems?

The corporations need to build larger distribution centres into the interiors to consolidate access and move larger ones on efficient and appropriate vehicles.

Do you think cost of movement in India is an issue because of long routes?

I think there are (issues). If we consider the US, the highway network there has become an inter-state commerce system. It allows long-distance travel efficiently. Similarly, India has a huge road structure.

But if you can eliminate barriers and the congestion, and create a road or rail system that’ll allow long-distance travel, then it helps in opening up markets.

Retailers and SCM companies will come in to develop infrastructure and distribution centres. Consolidate and scale up distribution at lower costs. Think of the cold supply chain (in India). Just imagine the wastage that happens because there is no proper infrastructure for temperature control and refrigeration of goods.

The pressure on roads and railways here is immense. Do we need alternatives like an inland waterways system?

Absolutely. It can be explored. In the US, they have a barge system where goods like copper or steel or those which are not time-sensitive are moved in large quantities at low cost.

The (Indian) Government has an opportunity to look at water, rail and road systems and connect them with ports.

All this will see better movement of goods without obstruction. That will allow India to step up and be a global player. And it will also help bring in manufacturing.

> abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 19, 2013
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