Supply Chain Management

02 Sep


Alpha Telecom Ltd., a part of Alpha Group was established in 1976 by its visionary Chairman and Managing Director, A. S. Verma. The company started with manufacturing of Electronic Push Button Telephones (EPBT) and Cordless phones in 1985 in Allahabad. On July 7, 1995 Alpha Tele-Ventures Limited was incorporated. A mobile service called ‘Web-Tel’ was launched in Kochin, which eventually expanded its operations in Andhra Pradesh in 1996.

Till 1994, fixed telephone services were provided by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) which had a monopoly in this business. This was regarded as self-defeating because DoT was a regulator as well as a competitor. With increasing pressure for privatisation, the government agreed to give license to private operators. Finally in December 1996, the bill of privatisation of fixed telephone services was passed. The New Telecom Policy (NTP) with its targets for improving tele-density was an ambitious policy. The NTP planned to achieve a tele-density (number of telephones per 100 people) of 7 by the year 2005 and 15 by the year 2010, which translated into 130 mn lines. The policy also planned an investment of Rs. 4000 billion by the year 2010. The above factors combined with the fact that the domestic long distance telephony was open to private players, led to considerable demand for the company’s products. But to get the tenders from Ministry of Telecommunication, Government of India, a license fee was to be paid over a period of 15 years and the viability of telecom projects was also affected by the guidelines that required private operators to earmark at least 10% of their telephone lines for villages. The operating companies did not like the idea of having to pay for the maintenance of lines that might not be used most of the times. The license fee of Maharashtra state was minimum at Rs.643 crores. Thus, Alpha Telenet, a pioneer in every field wanted to avail this opportunity and started the survey for extending the services in Pune. Their marketing survey team provided the statistics of existing customers of DoT, the waiting list of DoT, potential of users for successive years and so on.

Alpha Telenet Ltd. (ATL) decided to start their fixed line telephone operations in technical collaboration with Telecom Italia at Pune in Maharashtra. Initially, they received permission for installing their exchanges covering 0.5 km. of radius which was too small with respect to the cost involved and thus difficult to achieve lucrative returns. After struggling for a year, they finally got permission to set up exchanges covering 1 km. of radius. They set up their exchanges in potential areas in the city. Another problem was that the consumer’s mindset fixated was with DoT and they were not ready to accept the services of Alpha Telenet Ltd. This was due to opposite tariff rates for household consumers. Consumers did not rely on ATL as they were private players. ATL initially had attracted the customers from the areas where the waiting line for DoT connections was high. Further, they had provided the connections with wireless CDMA receivers for only Rs. 3000 (movable within the area of 5 km radius) though its actual cost was Rs.15,000. The connection between exchanges by optical fibre ensured high quality of voice and data transmission, which was later to be shifted to the conventional copper wires for consumer connections. The company made the connection using Ring Topology stay connected even in case of line disturbances.

They also installed a Submarine Optical Fibre Cable to Singapore with an 8.4 Tbps (terabits per second) capacity providing high-class worldwide connectivity. Alpha Telenet installed the latest Digital Switches from Tiemens and other devices, which were fully compatible with the equipment of other telecom providers in India. The company installed a digital Geographical Information System (GIS) for network surveillance. A 24-hr Internal Network Management System for technical support and infrastructure maintenance were also installed with a dedicated round-the-clock toll-free call centre to ensure prompt services.

In 1997, Alpha Telenet Ltd. obtained a license for providing fixed-line services in Maharashtra state circle and formed a joint venture with Behrin Telecom, Alpha BT, for providing VSAT services. On June 4, 1998 they started the first private fixed-line services launched in Pune in the Maharashtra circle and thereby ending fixed-:-line services monopoly of DoT (now TSNL). Alpha entered into a license agreement with DoT in 2002 to provide international long distance services in India and became the first private telecommunications service provider. The company also launched fixed line services in the states of Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi.

With the start of basic telephony services in the .state of Maharashtra, residents of the area and others felt a great sense of breaking away from the old and traditional government monopoly. The kind of ill-treatment of customers and also the red-tapism and bureaucracy which prevailed earlier, was about to end. It was observed that no private telecom company wanted to start their operations in less profitable areas like Bihar and other eastern states .

. The tariff plans of the TSNL and Alpha Telenet Ltd. were opposite to each other. TSNLS tariff structure was upwards i.e., price per unit increase with number of calls and vice versa for Alpha Telenet. This was the beginning of the entry of private players in the sector.


1. Give a critical analysis of the privatisation of telecom sector in India.

2. Highlight the secrets of success of Alpha Telenet Ltd. in terms of technological advancements and service~ provided.




Premier Differential Gears Pvt. Ltd. (PDGL) was formed in the year 1991 near Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh (India). The company was established to cater to the ever­growing needs of the differential gear market for cars, jeeps, trucks, and tractors. It was established under the aegis of the parent company called Premier Gears Pvt. Ltd. which in turn was established in the year 1962 at Noida. The parent company was engaged in the manufacturing of automobile transmission gears. With a modest start in 1961, it had never looked back and by 2006, it became the largest manufacturer of automobile transmission gears in the country. The parent company had employee strength of 2,500 trained and dedicated employees and was producing a range of over 1,000 gears. Premier Gears Pvt. Ltd. was making gears for virtually every major brand of truck, car, jeep and tractor. In 2006, the group company comprised of three firms namely, Premier Gears Pvt. Ltd. (manufacturing Transmission gears, Gearbox assemblies, Laser marking machines, and Material handling equipments), Premier Differential Gears Pvt. Ltd. (manufacturing differential gears) and Elve Corporation (a government recognized export house).

PDGL was manufacturing a wide range of Crown Wheel and Pinions, Bevel Gears, Bevel Pinions, and Spider Kit Assemblies. The installed capacity was 20,000 sets per month. PDGLs focus on quality, fast product development and customer service had enabled it to become an OEM supplier to many car and tractor companies in India, the EU, and Asia. Almost 75% of the total production was exported to a number of countries like Germany, Russia, USA, China, Japan, South Mrica, etc. The domestic OEM and replacement market accounted for the remaining 25% of the company’s sales and in a short span of time, the company had become one of the major players in the Indian replacement market. The use of latest technology and comprehensive quality control systems at PDGL go a long way to ensure that customers get exactly what they want.

PDGL was using world class Gleason machines in its manufacturing programme. The raw material for manufacturing gears was in the form of forgings, which were procured from various parts of the country for manufacturing crown wheels and pinions. These forgings were subjected to turning followed by drilling. The drilled crowns and pinions were taken for tapping, which were then rimmed. After this, the teeth cutting procedure was applied which was called broaching. The broached units were then heat-treated. Heat treatment was very critical in producing gears having short tolerance levels. To meet this end, the company had two rotary furnaces and one state-of-the-art Continuous Gas Carburizing Furnace (CGCF) from Aichelin ALD of Austria to heat-treat its products. After the heat treatment, a number of intermediate processes like short blasting, phosphating, lapping were performed which resulted into the finished product, ready for putting company marks to avoid imitation/forgery. The company had developed a state-of-the-art 70-watt ND­YAG laser-marking machine in collaboration with Quantum Laser (UK), which was used for marking on its produces. Laser marking was environment-friendly and was applied without any force or contact and thus the material was not subjected to any stress. The marked products were” manually pushed onto a conveyer for packing and dispatching. All the above have enabled the company to meet international standards and to produce world­class gears with the highest performance standards.

The upstream portion of the supply chain at PDGL included a number of forgers located at “geographically dispersed locations in various parts of the country. These forgers were supplying the forgings to PDGL, which were then used in manufacturing the differential gears. All of the raw material was routed to the POGL works through road transport and”” due to large distances, transportation costs were a major issue in increasing the efficiency of this upstream portion of the supply chain. The forgings were supplied according to the drawings and dimensions set by design engineers at the company. The company indeed tried some local suppliers to cope up with the increasing transportation costs but the results on quality front wet satisfactory. To serve this end, the company was planning to develop some local suppliers. It had planned to provide them support in the areas of procuring good material for producing forgings, procuring good quality machines and” training their workforce in the required technical know-how. This was considered as an investment by the company to reduce its inbound transportation costs. To meet the small lot requirements of the forgings, the company was also contemplating to share the truckloads with the parent company. This was feasible because of the geographical proximity of the parent company, which was situated at a distance of less than 15 kms, the similar nature of raw material and same suppliers supplying to both the units.

The internal supply chain at PDGL comprised of various processing stations/lines” through which the forgings were transformed into finished differential gears. The movement of the work-in-progress between various stations was semi-automatic in which the workers manually placed the goods on trolleys/carts. Even the finished units were manually placed on a conveyer; which needed to be pushed to send the units to the packing section. There was a risk of units being damaged in this process. To minimize this risk, the company was planning to have automatic systems for moving the material from one place to another. It was decided to have hydraulic lifts, cranes, electronic escalators and the likes for progression of material from forging to packing. The packing material was stored on first floor as and when it arrived, with the help of casual laborers, which was inefficient and also involved a: risk of some· casualty.

The downstream portion of the supply chain at PDGL included around 10 distributors located evenly in various parts of the country. These distributors were supplying the products of PDGL to number of car, truck, jeep and tractor manufacturers. This portion of the supply chain also included a large replacement market, which accounted for almost half of the company’s domestic sales. To meet its distribution needs the company had a panel of transporters, who used to distribute the finished goods. At times, the consignments scheduled for distributors were delayed because of lack of full truckload. One possible solution to this problem was sharing of truckload with the parent company. This was feasible because both the companies shared the same distribution network. The distribution of export consignments was through an intermediary who helped the company in exporting its products to the US, UK, Germany, China, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Nigeria, amongst other countries. The company’s wide export range included replacement gears for internationally renowned automotive manufacturers like Mercedes­Benz, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Clark, Eaton, Fuller, New Process, ZP, Hino, Fuso, Tong Feng, Tata, Leyland, Massey Ferguson, Magirus – Deutz and various others.

There was a shortage of skilled employees. Therefore, the company has recently started training input for all their 400 employees. These training programmes are being conducted in the organization to enhance the skills of the employees and the duration of these programmes were 20 hours per month. On the financial front, the company is continuously moving on the growth track showing better financial results year after year. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to double its turnover by the end of this financial year and to become the world’s numero-uno in the automotive gear-manufacturing segment. The current capacity utilization was at a meager 6000 sets against a total installed capacity of 20,000 sets per month.


1. Comment on the upstream and downstream supply chain portions operating in the company.

2. How far are the plans to improve the supply chain efficiency in the company feasible?

3. “Internal supply chain at the company can be characterized by the lack of it”. Comment.




Deepak Pai, an engineering graduate and a postgraduate in management from United States, was working in Transport Corporation of India (TCI), the market leader in conventional transportation. He established Speed Cargo as an express cargo distribution company after leaving TCI. Speed Cargo, started with its head office at Hyderabad, as a small cargo specialist in 1989, upgrading itself to desk-to-desk cargo in 1992, cargo management services in 1995 and became a public limited company when it was listed in Bombay Stock Exchange in 1999. The company was maintaining a strong customer base of prestigious companies like Acer, Cadilla, Sony, Panasonic, Titan, Dabur and Hitachi to name a few.

Speed Cargo Limited (SCL), a leader in the express cargo movement pioneered in distribution and supply chain management solutions in India. It differentiated the concept of cargo, from conventional transport industry by offering door pickup, door delivery, assured delivery date and containerized movement. It had a turnover of Rs.3600 million in 2005-06. The company had a strong team of 6400 employees with the fleet of 2000 vehicles on road and an extensive network covering 3,20,000 kilometers per day and a reach of 594 out of 602 districts in India. In addition to this, it was having a well-structured multimodal connectivity and 6lakh square feet mechanized warehousing facility. Warehousing facilities were comprised of the most modern storied system and material handling equipment offering very high level of operational efficiency. The four modes of transport – Road, Air, Sea and Rail were seamlessly integrated, enabling SCL to effortlessly reach anytime anywhere.

The international wing of SCL took care of the SAARC countries and Asia Pacific region covering 220 countries with a specialized India-centric perspective. The company had gone online by connecting 90 percent of its offices to provide web-centric solutions to its customers.

The company also offered money back guarantee to express cargo services. The services offered were customized for corporate, small and medium enterprises, cluster markets, wholesale markets and individuals. The state-of-the-art technology made things easier for the customers whose cargo could be tracked and traced in the simplest manner, because SCL had an effective tracking system. SCL believed that best of technology enabled best of service, and its outlays on providing the IT edge had always resulted in innovative services and solutions. SCL, in its day-to-day operations, used technologically advanced equipments like Fork Lifters, Hydraulic Trucks, Hand Trolly, Drum Trolly, Rubber Pads cushioning, Taper Rollers to move big crates, color codes for identification to delivery what it promised.

Between 1989, when company was born, and 1995, SCL started a unique value added service called Cash-On-Delivery for the advantage of its customers. SCL introduced Call Free Number for the first time in the logistics industry in India. To establish largest network in air and to facilitate faster delivery of shipments, SCL entered into a tie-up with Indian Airlines in 1996; The Company introduced the concept of 3rd party logistics and later started offering complete logistics and supply chain solutions in 1997. The courier service Suvidha later rechristened as Zipp was launched in 1998. The company entered into a tie­up with Bhutan and Maldives Postal Departments to expand its operations to SAARC countries in 1999. The Speed Cargo Development Center was set up at Pune in India for training of its employees in the same year.

An exclusive cargo train in association with Indian Railways between Mumbai and Kolkata was launched in 2001. Based on a survey conducted by Frost and Sullivan, SCL was conferred the Voice of Customer Award for being the best logistics company in 2003. After simplifying the internal process for faster and better communication, and a smarter way to work, SCL set up its corporate office at Singapore in 2003 to create an international hub with an aim to reach out to the world. The company introduced a mechanized racking system in the automated warehouse at Panvel (Maharastra) in 2004.

SCL was sensitive to the avenues where it could contribute to building a better society. Displaying continuous social responsibility, SCL associated itself with several community development programs and contributed generously to many social causes. SCL was the first to build makeshift houses for 400 families who were affected during a massive earthquake in Bhuj district of Gujarat in India during January 2001. They reached the devastated village the same day to provide food, clothes, medication and water to the affected people.

In 2003, SCL accepted to develop one of the government schools located at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, and built a building with basic facilities like classrooms, staff rooms and toilets, and provided furniture for students and staff. The housekeeping and security of the school, which was now having 1100 students, was also taken care of by the company. After Tsunami, one of the worst natural disasters that struck South East Asia in December 2004 leaving over 10 lakh people dead and over 4 million displaced, SCL was on the rescue scene as it brought in food, water, clothing, medication, a team of doctors and cooks, and provided the affected people with essential utensils. After rehabilitating the people in Nagapattnam and Cuddalore, it took up the development of a high school in Nagore where 500 students came in from the Tsunami affected families. SCL also actively participated in Kargil contributions and other rescue and rehabilitation works in India.


SCL believed that in the age of convergence, it had kept pace with time with its infrastructure, people and technological capabilities for moving cargo to its destination on time, by making intelligent movements in air and sea, as well as on road and rail. The company had experience of handling wide range of materials including confidential papers related to University examination and sensitive goods like polio drops and life-saving medicines. In view of the strengths of its competitors such as DHL, Safexpress and Blue Dart, the company had enhanced services with a greater focus on cargo management and customer satisfaction with the new operations backed by better strategic planning. To achieve its aim, SCL had strategically tied-up with Jubli Commercials, an lATA accredited freight forwarder, which started its operations as Air Cargo Agent.

The company was confident that it was set to become 24 x 7 one-stop solution provider for all freight forwarding services including customs clearance for international cargo. SCL having 40 percent share in express distribution business was developing a huge centralized warehouse on 22 acres of land at Nagpur in India. The centralized warehouse, which was about to be commissioned, was designed as a major hub or express distribution center for 200 smaller hubs as its spokes catering to the needs of its customers across India. SCL believed that it is a concept, a vision and an idea ahead of its time, which looked at a global perspective and was constantly reinventing itself in delivering the future of logistics.


1. What made SCL a leader in the logistics industry?

2. Discuss the strategies adopted by SCL for its survival in the competitive scenario.

3. Comment on the contributions of SCL to society.

4. What steps the company should take to globalize its network reach? Discuss the strategies adopted by SCL for expansion.




Company Profile

Indian Steels Limited (ISL) is a Rs. 6000 crore company established in the year 1986. The company envisaged being a continuously growing top class company to deliver superior quality and cost effective products for infrastructure development. With major customers being from Public Sector Undertakings, the company has established itself well and is said to be considering its expansion plan and proposed merger with another steel making giant in the country.

In 1996, owing to the cut throat competition in the emerging dynamic global markets, ISL emphasized on both effectiveness and efficiency. The company strongly believed in focusing on its core competency (i.e. manufacturing of steel) and outsourcing the rest to its reliable partners. Outsourcing of its outbound logistics was one such move in this direction. ISL out sourced its stockyards and other warehousing services to a third party called Consignment Agent, who was selected on an annual basis through a process of competitive bidding. The CA was responsible for the entire distribution of the products within the geographical limits of the allotted market segment and was paid by the company according to the loads of transaction (measured in metric tonnes) dealt by him. The company also believed in maintaining long-term relationships with the suppliers as well as the buyers. It always prioritized the needs of its regular and important customers over others and this worked out to be a win-win strategy. The case brings out the model of outsourcing logistics the company has adapted for the enhancement of its supply chain competency and thus leveraging more on its core competency which led to increased productivity.

Indian Steels Limited (ISL) is a Rs. 6000 crore company established in the’ year 1986. The company envisaged being a continuously growing top class company to deliver superior quality and cost effective products for infrastructure development. The company performed with a mission to attain 7 million ton liquid steel capacity through technological up-gradation, operational efficiency arid expansion; to produce steel with international standards of cost and quality; and to meet the aspirations of the stakeholders. The production started in the year 1988 and initially, it manufactured Angles, Pig Irons) Beams and Wire Rods that were mainly used for constructing roads) dams and bridges. These products were mainly supplied to Public Sector Undertakings such as Railways, Public Works Department (PWD) Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Rashtriya Setu Nigam Limited, Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam Ltd. and various foundry units. The company had its headquarters at Raipur with three stockyards (a kind of warehouse with a huge land to store the products).

The company has established itself well and is said to be considering its expansion plan and proposed merger with another steel making giant in the country. The company was awarded ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 certifications. The temperature in the plant premises is reportedly about 6°C lesser than that of the township, thanks to the greenery being maintained therein.

Logistics Outsourcing

Outbound logistics which basically connects the source of supply with the sources of demand with an objective of bridging the gap between the market demand and capabilities of the supply sources was always a problem for companies operating in this industry. Consisting of components like warehousing network, transportation network) inventory control system and supporting information systems outbound logistics was always playing a key role in making the right product available at the right place, at the right time at the least possible cost. In 1996 owing to the cut throat competition in the emerging dynamic global markets, ISL emphasized on both effectiveness and efficiency. The company strongly believed in focusing on its core competency (Le. manufacturing of steel) and outsourcing the rest to its reliable partners. Outsourcing of its outbound logistics was one such move in this direction.

Recognizing the growing demand for its products from the big, diversified and geographically­dispersed customers, the company started expanding the number of warehousing stockyards. From a humble beginning, the company today has 26 stockyards; most of them are outsourced. Each of the outsourced stockyards was managed by a third party, which the company referred to as Consignment Agent (hereafter referred to as CA) in the area. The CA was selected on an annual basis through competitive bidding process. The performance of CA was closely monitored by a company representative (full time employee of ISL working in the site of CA). The CA was responsible for the entire distribution of the products within the geographical limits of the allotted market segment and Was paid by the company according to the loads of transaction (measured in metric tonnes) dealt by him. Based on their sales turnover CAs were trifurcated into A, Band C categories. The CAs with a monthly turnover of Rs. 150-200 crore fell under A category) whereas those with Rs. 100 – 150 crore were B and less than Rs. 100 \ crore were C category.

In addition to the company representative) a team of marketing division operated in the town where, the site of CA was located. This department was responsible or estimating the future demand, translating it into orders and sending to the manufacturing plant. Material dispatch was done using either one or a combination of the two modes: Rail, Road. While using rail as the mode of transportation, the company had a choice to book a Normal Rake (a full train with about 35 wagons, each wagon with an approximate capacity of 60 tonnes) or a Jumbo Rake (a full train of about 52 wagons, each wagon with an approximate capacity of 60 tonnes). At times, the company was engaging the services of the CONCOR (Container Corporation of India) where a train of 62 to 70 wagons, each wagon with about 26 tonnes capacity was used for transportation. Instead, if the company decided to send the material by road, the company had a choice between Trailor (25-30 tonnes} and Truck (15-20 tonnes). The choice of transportation mode was based on the quantity of dispatch.

As soon as the material was dispatched from the manufacturing plant, the respective CA used to get a Stock Transfer Chalaan electronically through Virtual Private Network, which was developed by a professional software service provider. In-transit, monitoring was generally done with the help of Indian Railways, if the mode was Rail. Otherwise, truck/trailor drivers were contacted through mobile phone. Transit generally took five to six days, providing time for CA to plan for receiving materials. The CA used to utilize this time for arranging material handling devices like heavy cranes and required labour. The material thus unloaded was reaching the warehousing stockyard where CA was responsible for arranging the materials as per the warehousing norms of ISL.

The company broadly classified materials into Long Products and Rounds. Products falling into each category were further classified by their size, shape and utility and the company used a distinct colour code for this purpose. Each subcategory of material had a specific place for downloading. The company used Bin System for this purpose. While downloading the material in stockyard, the company norms insisted that CA arrange for providing Dunnagt Material. This enabled the CA to store material without 1 direct contact with the land surface and thus reduced the probability of material deterioration. Material was stored in the stockyard until an authorized representative of the customer used to come and collect it. While dispatching material to the customer, a Loading Slip was generated against the Delivery Order. The company” also believed in maintaining long-term relationships with the suppliers as well as the buyers. It always prioritized the needs of its regular and important customers over others and this worked out to be a win-win strategy.

Operational problems were majorly because of uncertainties in transportation, fluctuation in supply of electricity and the load bearing capacity of the soil in the stockyard. Some: more problems were encountered whenever there was a change in CA and these were overcome by training the employees of the new CA and keeping the old CA responsible for the: material in his stockyard for six months after the contract as well. Observations reveal that, at times there were situations wherein CAs had to do those things which they were not legally supposed to do (like subcontracting) because of the pressures mounted by political leaders with selfish interests.

Despite these problems, this model of outsourcing logistics was working out very well for the company. The practices, which were started in the year 1996 have sustained major changes in the environment and are being practiced even in 2006. It has enhanced the supply chain competency of the company by enabling it leverage more on its core competency, which leads to increased productivity.


1. Analyze the case in view of the logistics outsourcing practices of the ISL.

2. Discuss the importance of logistics outsourcing with reference to supply chain management.

3. Suggest strategies for further strengthening the supply chain of ISL.

4. The participants/students are expected to have a clear understanding of Supply Chain and Logistics Management concepts.

5. The issues involved in the case are Sales Forecasting, Strategic Sourcing, Selection of Warehousing Service Provider, Transportation Mode and other nuances in Logistics Management.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *