In conversation with Avdhut Gawde, Head of Cold Chain Solutions at Maersk South Asia

Avdhut Gawde

“Customers are looking for single window access for all their logistics requirements so that they can leave the transportation part of their business with a trusted partner. This allows them to concentrate more on their core business.

What are your best-known solutions/products/services?

We, at Maersk, are offering integrated solutions for cold chain logistics. Through these solutions, our customers have access to uninterrupted cold chain logistics starting from the first mile.

This bundled product includes provision of transportation of container from processing unit to port, customs clearance, sanitary inspection certifications, managing booking and documentation processes along with ocean transportation. This solution in cold chain logistics is applicable for a host of commodities that need refrigerated solutions – fruits & vegetables, onions, seafood, processed foods, pharmaceuticals etc. 

The host of services offered by Maersk are also applicable for last mile delivery at destination. For example, in Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) shipments, we offer customs clearance of the cargo, pay the duty on behalf of the shipper and transport the goods to the consignee’s warehouse. See also the conversation with Harm Wessells, CCO, Qwyk

Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest?

We are providing cold chain solutions to all commodities that require refrigerated movement. These include fresh produce, seafood, protein (meat, dairy products) and pharmaceuticals. The current trends are showing that pharmaceuticals segment is on its way to grow considerably.

What are your most recent product innovations?

As a part of our cold chain solutions, we are offering Remote Container Management (RCM) through an application called Captain Peter.

This application grants our customers visibility of several parameters surrounding their cargo that can be accessed from the comforts of their offices.

Captain Peter provides customers with the location visibility of the container, temperature and humidity inside the container right from the time it is picked up empty from our yard till the time container delivered at destination or consignee’s warehouse.

Customers even get email notifications whenever there is any variance in temperature or humidity inside the container. Further, customers subscribing for premium version can also download the datalogger for their shipment.

What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?

Customers are looking for single window access for all their logistics requirements so that they can leave the transportation part of their business with a trusted partner.

This allows them to concentrate more on their core business. At Maersk, we have thoroughly studied this requirement of customers and thus come up with the end-to-end solutions in cold chain logistics.

With our first mile and last mile services bundled into the ocean transportation and further value-added services also being made available to our customers, we are truly making it a difference with integrated cold chain solutions.  

How does business in 2020 compared to previous years? What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?

The overall market has dropped considerably in the first quarter of calendar year 2020 compared to the same period last year.

Factors contributing to this drop have been the ban on export of onions, unsatisfactory seafood market whose wild catch segment dropped by 25-30% and a tough season for grapes wherein we have seen 25% drop as compared to last season. COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the overall business, the impact of which can only be ascertained in coming weeks.

Our strategy continues to be to provide integrated cold chain solutions bundled along with ocean transportation. We are also ensuring that our containers are made available as per customer’s requirements to ensure high reliability.

Can you tell us about any of recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?

As a part of the integrated end-to-end cold chain logistics solutions, we have been able to provide services to grapes and potatoes exporters from western part of the country in the recent season.

In the months before that, we have also successfully delivered chilies from Varanasi to Middle East that included first mile logistics in addition to the ocean transportation. We are also fully geared for the export of mangoes now.

With the state-of-the-art refer technology along with advanced visibility, our customers are able to get reliable solutions for exporting their cargo and can expect their cargo to reach the destination in good condition.

In addition to the movement of cargo, we have an extremely important part of logistics covered through our cold store facility in Chennai that serves the South Indian market.

During the COVID-19 crisis, facility has helped all fruit importers and provided them storage space coupled with our transportation services. However, the storage space is not limited to fruits, but is also available for commodities such as seafood, meat and pharmaceuticals.

What’s the latest news from your company?

The integrated solution for end-to-end cold chain logistics started as a trial couple of years ago. After successful pilots that yielded expected results and fine tuning the solutions to customers’ requirements, we have now rolled out these services to wider range of our customers who wish to export their commodities from India to the world.

We are now offering our expertise across all commodities that require refrigerated logistics.

Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?

Digitalisation is a constant effort that keeps evolving. We first launched Remote Container Management in September 2017. Since then, we have kept adding features to the platform and developing it as per the requirements of or customers.

The latest update to it was in the form of Captain Peter 2.0 that was launched in April 2020. We are monitoring the utility of the platform and constantly working towards incorporating features that our customers are demanding.

Could you please share your views on Cold Chain Sector for our magazine readers?

As far as cold chain in India is concerned, the focus is shifting to end-to-end uninterrupted logistics solution and not just storage of the cargo.

We see that state-of-the-art machinery and equipment are getting used in cold stores now and in processing units. We do have modern packhouses, ripening chambers, and multipurpose cold stores too.

However, the sector is still dealing with challenges like farm level storages, new packaging technologies, logistics to supplement the cold chain and good quality cold stores.

In India around 20-30% of the fresh produce is getting wasted every day because of lack of proper cold chain facilities. There is a need of adequate and efficient uninterrupted cold chain to ensure smooth transition of fresh produce from farm to fork.

Given the cold chain transformation in India, we as Maersk are designing our cold chain solutions as per customer’s requirements and needs. 

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