22 Mar, 2018

“India needs to concentrate on multiple ROIs to embrace automation” – Asim Behera

Asim Behera, COO and Board Member—Daifuku India, pointed out that Indian manufacturers should consider multiple results to move towards automating their operations. India is a price-sensitive market and has cheap labor availability. So, it’s extremely hard to justify the Returns on Investment (ROIs). Asim was airing his views as one of the leading panelists at the recently concluded Global Supply Chain Symposium organized by the University of Southern California Marshall Center and the Global DCM at St. Regis, Mumbai. He was speaking about the discrimination that Supply Chain Officers are facing in the industry for a long time.

Asim pointed out that the smallest project undertaken by Daifuku in India was worth more than USD 1.5 million. In the West or Japan, this cost can easily be justified by taking into consideration the fact that the system can replace more than 50 labors, which in maximum 2–3 years will pay off for the system. But in India, the labor is so cheap that it’s hard to recover the money even in 12 years. So, to sell any product of Daifuku, India needs to concentrate on more than one aspect to justify the ROIs. This is where a Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSO) comes into the picture and adds value to it.

The panel discussion was moderated by one of the leading experts in Supply Chain Management Mr. Sammi Dua, General Manager with GSK Consumer Healthcare. The panel members were high-profile executives such as Lt. Col. Vijay Nair, Head—Distribution and Logistics, Reliance Digital; Mr. Asim Behera, COO and Executive Board Member, Daifuku; Mr. Vishal Premchandani, Joint Managing Director, KD Supply Chain Solutions; Mr. Pramod Sant, Head of Exports, Imports, and Customs, Siemens Ltd.; and Mr. Bipin Reghunathan, Director Supply Chain, DHL.

The moderator and the panel members reached a consensus that the CSOs need to be taken seriously with the change in business dynamics and the importance that supply chain is gathering in today’s competitive market. Pramod Sant of Siemens believes that the reason behind the decimation faced by CSOs is the traditional belief of the society that the CSOs are low-profile workers and aren’t a must for the industry. Pramod strongly believes that the people working in the supply chain should get a say in decision making, and if required, they should market themselves so that the industry recognizes their importance. He also congratulated the organizers Raj Dias, Ajay Jhallani, and Augustine Chalassery for bringing an exclusive symposium on supply chain management and the changing focus towards the industry.

Lt. Col. Vijay Nair, Veteran, remarked, “The board of a company will be strong only when all the members of the company are strong. The value one brings to the board is with the experience of each employee, and it’s important that the skill sets of each individual are improved at this point of business evolution.” Bipin Reghunathan believes one of the major challenges for this situation is the Supply Chain Experts operate from 5 ft. to 5,000 ft. height, while the board members work at 50,000 ft. height. So, when a Supply Chain Officer comes on the board, he needs to understand these dynamics and should be equipped to provide the board with their expectations of building business strategy and global statistics.

The panel agreed that there is never an end to learning. It’s necessary for the businesses to learn about the evolving market conditions. The panel recognized that there is a need to bring in a strong Supply Chain Management person to the board, one who brings in value to the board with his vast career experience. The CSO must also have the ability to plan the strategies and work accordingly.

Overall, the event served its purpose to stimulate ideas and provoke conversations on a broad range of important topics in the Supply Chain industry.