Dedicated logistics players can offer economy of scale to their clients.

Dedicated logistics players can offer economy of scale to their clients.

Fourcee Infrastructure entered the field of logistics in 2006 when the Indian Railways opened up for privatisation. This young and vibrant venture has been growing aggressively as the innovative solutions developed by the company have allowed its customers to cut down logistics costs by as much as 30 per cent. Rajesh Lihala, founder and the Chairman of Fourcee Infrastructure has been in the logistics business since 1976 and well understands the needs of the customers. Here is an excerpt from the interview that shows how Fourcee has converted its experience into customer- focused solutions.

What is the range of services offered by you to the cement industry?
Fourcee offers door-to-door multimodal logistics of bulk cement from manufacturing plants to end consumers. Our solution covers shipping as well as railway transport, as per the geographical parameters. We have been managing logistics for cement companies for the past year and have moved more than 200,000 tonnes of cement till date. Going forward, we are also exploring the export of cement from India to neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We offer dedicated assets across routes and deploy specialised ISO containers to facilitate the movement.

What is the USP of your company when it comes to transporting cement?
Preservation of quality and quantity through door- to- door multimodal logistics is Force´s USP. We load bulk (loose) cement in our specialised containers at the manufacturing location and seal the containers there. These are watertight containers that can be stacked on open ground exposed to rough weather (rains, etc) and the cement quality will not deteriorate. These sealed containers are then transported to the consumption point (RMC plant/silo), the seal is broken and compressed air is used to pump the loose bulk cement from the container to the silo. Therefore, cement quality and quantity is preserved, bagging is avoided, multiple handling is eliminated and wastage is negligible. The ISO container frame permits multimodal movement on road, rail and vessel.

How many containers do you have for cement transport?
We have dedicated around 800 specialised ISO cement containers for movement within India. We will continue to add more assets based on the demand from the industry.

In what way are they specialised for cement transport?
These are specialised in containers for cement transport with top loading and bottom discharge valves. Container unloading is done pneumatically with the help of compressors. Container loading and unloading is done under the supervision of our specialised technical team located at every location where our containers are being handled.

You said that the containers are ISO- certified. What does that mean to the end users?
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) prescribes regulations that define the dimensions and structural strength to which a container is built. The basis of these regulations is to ensure that the container possesses sufficient structural integrity so as to withstand extreme stresses during handling/transportation from one mode to another. Therefore, end users can guarantee safe transportation of the goods within the container. A non- ISO certified container may not have been built to required specifications and may pose logistics hazards.

Cement companies often face difficulties in last mile transportation? How do you support them?
Cement companies face difficulties in the last mile transporting of bagged cement due to labour, multiple handling, wastage due to tearing of bags while handling, costly storage charges for bagged and pilferage. Fourcees solution eliminates the requirement of transport of bagged cement and therefore, labour/covered storage space is not required. This helps in reducing the total logistics cost of the cement companies.

What can your clients do to ensure that their goods move without delay?
Loading and unloading processes are the key areas within a logistics supply chain that are under the direct influence of our clients. Any lead time reduction in either of these processes will lead to significant cost and time efficiencies for Fourcee, as well as for our clients. Moreover, clients can help reduce overall logistics costs by investing in superior infrastructure for loading/unloading that can, in turn, help minimise double handling and speed up the entire process.

How many terminals and ICDs are owned by Fourcee and what is its total capacity?
Fourcee has developed its first terminal at Kashipur (Uttarakhand) in a JV with IGL. This has been developed on a 35- acre land parcel with three sidings inside the terminal. The terminal will operate as an ICD with a PFT license from Indian Railways. After completion, it will handle molasses, alcohol, coal, crude edible oil and variety of chemicals based on the demand from its hinterland.

The setting up of a terminal is a costly affair. What are the major costs involved and how can one cut down on those?
Terminals are capital intensive projects and therefore need to be meticulously planned and executed. The key costs for any rail- linked terminal are the cost of acquiring land and establishing railway connectivity.

Is Fourcee planning to set-up or acquire more terminals?
We are constantly scouting new terminals by way of strategic alliances to minimise the gestation periods as well as capex.

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