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In our endeavour to keep the trucking community aware of various developments and also update them with views of industry stakeholders, WheelsEye conducted a Webinar on 31st May on Facebook Live.
We were honoured to interact with Mr.Sahaj Wadhwa, the young and dynamic owner of Tejas Logistics, which is one of the foremost fleet owners in India with a fleet of 400+ trucks. Mr.Wadhwa provided the viewers some vital insights into how a trucking business can be better managed during the present Covid crisis and also how technology can be better leveraged to make your trucking operations more efficient.
We give below some vital takeaways from our conversation with Mr.Wadhwa:
A Peek into Tejas Logistics & Mr.Wadhwa’s journey
Starting out as a CA, Mr.Wadhwa has propelled Tejas logistics to a turnover of more than 50 crores in a very short time. A vision of blending logistics with technology and being focussed towards motivating Truck Saarthis have been important enablers for his success.
- Mr.Wadhwa gave the example of Tejas Logistics where Driver Retention is 98%.
- The key focus should be to respect drivers.
- Tejas Logistics ensures that drivers are addressed as Saarthis.
- Empathy and a sense of security are important for Saarthis who travel 2000+ KMs in one go and get to visit their homes once in 2-3 months. The fleet-owner’s hub should be made to feel like home for the Saarthi.
- Basic amenities like proper shelter, food, barber facilities, provision of refreshments like tea on arrival, washing machine facilities etc should be provided to Saarthis.
- Performance based incentives and insurance cover are also important.
- Tejas provides laptops and an opportunity for employment to children of Saarthis who succeed in Class 10 & 12. This is a wonderful initiative which provides security to the Saarthi’s family and can be tried by other fleet owners too.
- Along with ensuring GPS in every truck, fleet owners can also use ERP systems to improve asset utilisation and to decrease variable costs.
- Mr.Wadhwa acknowledged the fact that associating with WheelsEye has helped Tejas Logistics with real time location, visibility on delays and also in ensuring that the objective of ‘Chakka Ghoomna Chahiye’ is met.
- Technology can be used for safety and performance checks of Saarthis:
- You can keep a tab on night driving using GPS
- Route diversions can be monitored using technology
- Harsh driving / braking can also be detected
Based on above parameters, one can create a Saarthi Score to incentivize and motivate them.
- As per Mr.Wadhwa, the Covid lockdowns led to a fall in both demand from industries and in the supply of trucks.
- While the closure of repair shops, dhabas etc inconvenienced truck Saarthis greatly, a lot of confusion prevailed around identifying Essential Goods. Moreover, production of essential goods (ex – injections) often requires Non-Essential Goods (ex – polymers, plastic) – this multiplied problems.
- However, post monsoon, as the demand for agricultural products renews and Truck Saarthis and labourers start returning to work, there should be a V-Shaped Recovery.
- Given the contribution of Truck Saarthis during the Corona lockdowns, they should be regarded as Warriors by the government at par with other Covid workers like medical professionals, sanitation workers, police etc.
- As per Mr.Wadhwa, the Moratorium Scheme is certainly very useful for Truckers facing cash crunch. Even a small fleet owner pays EMIs in lakhs per month.
- However, the accrual of interest at the original financing rate during the moratorium would lead to an increase in EMIs later – this is a big concern.
- If the government had decreased the interest rate during the 6 months moratorium to a flat and nominal rate, that would have been very beneficial for truck owners.
Mr.Wadhwa graciously provided some vital advice to small fleet owners on how they can grow their business and also hedge themselves from risks during the current pandemic:
- Truckers should maximize asset utilization in these 6 months of the EMI Moratorium to ensure that they build surplus cash for serving future increases in EMI. Maintaining transit times and staying competitive to get demand in these times is paramount.
- Try converting fixed expenses to variable expenses through digitalization. Utilize the work from home practice to save on transport and power costs. Focus on cost reduction could be the winner.
- Retain focus on your core business i.e. transporting goods. Don’t get diverted by subsidiary businesses. For ex: Tejas Logistics has completely outsourced its Tyre and AMC segments. This will help fleet owners in better efficiency.
- Small fleet owners should look to attach their fleet with bigger companies who are currently coming up with innovative programmes like providing loads for both side journeys, taking responsibility for repairs etc. Associating with big companies can ensure that your truck keeps running.
- If you are looking to buy a new truck, you could look into options of purchasing a second hand truck. This is because spending on a BS6 truck could cost you an extra Rs.3-4 lacs. Moreover demand revival post Corona will still take some time.
- Saarthi education is important. If we educate them on following social distancing and sanitization protocols, they will certainly understand.
- Encourage your team to download the Aarogya Setu app.
- Nowadays truck repair shops and OEMs are ensuring that every truck is sanitized prior to repair work. You can ensure the same whenever a truck arrives at your hub.
- Ensure that your Truck Saarthis are not transporting people in your trucks. This reduces risk of the spread of the virus.
- Every truck should have a sanitizer bottle. Every Saarthi should be provided a mask.
Mr.Wadhwa also provided his views on the economic package announced by the Government recently. In addition, he also answered some more questions from viewers of the webinar.
We thank Mr.Wadhwa for being a part of our webinar. We also hope that the above insights will be helpful for members of the Trucking Community.
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