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Industry supply chain leaders visit BIAL cargo complex

On Friday, 13 June 2008, I had the privilege of leading a delegation of senior supply chain managers from member companies of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) on a visit of the two cargo terminals operated by Menzies Aviation Bobba (Bangalore) and Air India Singapore Airport Terminal Services (AI-SATS) at BIAL airport.

The team comprised of senior officers of a veritable “Who is who” of Bangalore industry, and was 360 degrees in sector verticals (Automotive, Biotech, Earth Moving, Electronics, Floriculture, Garments, High Tech, Logistics providers, PCB), as well as geographic locations all around Bangalore.

Hosting us were Mr. Andrew Brant, CEO, and Mr. Kamesh Peri, Director, of Menzies, Mr. Ranjiv Ramanathan of AI-SATS, and Mr. Marcel Hungelbeuhler, COO of BIAL, along with their respective operations teams. They are all competent and committed people.

Compared to my visit of 28-Apr-2008 (read article), the progress made in the last 15 days has been astounding, reflecting the hard efforts of everyone at Menzies, AI-SATS, and BIAL.

Menzies, services the European carriers, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, Thai, and Kingfisher, while AI-SATS services Air India, Indian Airlines, Jet, Singapore, Malaysian, Emirates, Etihad amongst others.

While the Menzies terminal is definitely way ahead in terms of preparedness, AI-SATS is making rapid strides in catching up.

After a tour of the two warehouses, the team’s assessment was, that AI-SATS, which was forced to commence operations in an unprepared state, should be fully functional in about 6 – 8 weeks, while Menzies-Bobba is almost fully operational.

Compared to the poor conditions at MSIL and JWG terminals at HAL airport, the new cargo terminals are definitely superior, (read article), but they need to improve to global standards.

While new concepts in cargo handling have been brought in, the team, all expert supply chain managers, some handling over 100,00 item inventories, was disappointed by the lack of quality systems and metrics with regards to traceability and handling.

The offered many expert suggestions and critical assessment to Menzies, AI-SATS, and BIAL. The reception of suggestions was encouraging, and we look forward to constantly improving services, in-line with the global reputations of both operators, and BIAL.

BIAL indicated, that they have made facilities for low cost meals that will be helpful for the numerous employees of Customs Agents, Cargo Agents, and transporters. Traffic flow issues were being addressed.

Despite the best efforts of both the cargo terminal operators, it is still taking a minimum of 2 days to clear the cargo. The two big impediments appear to be, operations of Indian Customs authorities and some airlines.

Despite, the commitment of both the Chief Commissioner and Commissioner of Customs, to industry at a meeting in early March, there is still no assessment at BIAL, only at HAL airport. Despite the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, Customs demands physical papers, which need to be collected the day following cargo landing, and physically carried across to HAL, assessment carried out, duty paid, and then the papers again carried back to BIAL for customs inspection and release. It is painful, time consuming, and only hurts Bangalore’s industry by increased time and costs. The team demanded that Customs live up to their commitments and commence assessment at BIAL immediately.

Certain airlines are not further aggravating the situation by not filing their paperwork electronically. The team requested BIAL to ban these airlines from carrying cargo.

One of the cargo operators was very insistent, on not being clubbed along with the other, in assessments. Unfortunately, the one point the cargo terminal operator missed, was the fact, that the team was the customer of their customers, the airlines. The airlines decide on which terminal operator handles their cargo, not industry. Therefore, the two operators are measured in entirety.

As Theodore Levitt said, “The true business of every company is to make customers, keep customers, and maximize customer profitability”.

The team offered a constant engagement to help Menzies, AI-SATS and BIAL, reach their potential of global standards in service, and ensure industry’s profitability and by extension Bangalore’s growth. The encouraging response is promising.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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