- Capt. Allan Couto, Vice-President, Transworld Logistics Pvt Ltd
Capt. Allan Couto is a well-known name in the shipping industry. After completing a stint of fie years at sea as a Master Mariner in command of vessels owned and operated by Orient Express Lines, he was appointed as general manager and subsequently, vice-president (all India) of Transworld Shipping Services (I) Pvt. Ltd, a premier agency involved in port agency and vessel handling activities. During this period he got wide exposure and responsibility for overseeing all aspects of port agency.
Capt. Allan Couto, who is currently the Vice-President of Transworld Logistics Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, spoke to Hemant Thaker in this extensive interview. Excerpts:
Capt. Allan Couto, Vice-President of Transworld Logistics Pvt Ltd
What prompted you to switch from shipping industry to logistics?
It was my observation that most clients are driven to approach port agents/shipping lines and select the same depending on the service levels and the freight rates that are offered. This practice makes it very difficult for shipping lines/agents to develop lasting relationships with clients. Keeping this in mind, we decided to migrate from offering shipping services to specific destinations as per what the line could offer to providing total logistics solutions where the entire focus would be the needs of our client. The aim of Transworld Logistics is to build a lifetime relationship with the clients and provide the best of services. This idea prompted me to move into logistics.
Since Transworld Logistics is a new company, how is the performance and what are the major achievements till date?
Our intention as Transworld Logistics is to be versatile enough to cater to the logistics of any goods that have to be moved. In pursuit of this idea, we have crossed some important milestones, which include:
* Moving our container vessel to anchorage and loading foreign going containers in stream, thereby reducing cost to our client.
* Moving project cargoes not only between Indian ports (through coastal shipping) and foreign destinations, but also between foreign ports.
Nominated by foreign government to carry armaments and deliver the same.
* Offering customised services to multinational companies in India by using the rail service.
* Chartering and fixing various vessels along the coast of India.
* Offering a specialised service into CIS destination and Moscow.
We are also in the process of offering a customised service, including software, for the procurement and supply of raw material to one of the biggest multinational companies in India.
According to you, how is the future of logistics industry?
As long as there are birds in the air and fish in the sea, there would be adequate business for premier logistics providers as today, logistics is a major cost factor to almost all products and effective management of logistics would show the difference in the balance sheets of two competing companies manufacturing the same products.
What are the major problems faced by the logistics sector and what measures should be taken to improve the service standards?
The three major hurdles faced by logistics industry are lack of sufficient knowledge and exposure to people who provide logistics solutions; adequate infrastructure; and, optimum usage of information technology.
Today, all Indian manufacturers and exporters have realised the importance of planned logistics and effective supply chain management techniques. Logistics companies are reviewing their own internal mechanism and procedures to ensure that they do not increase their cost by holding inventories. Also, multinational companies have started the trend by adopting tested systems that are followed worldwide.
Do you think information technology can play a significant role in the development of logistics industry?
Basically, logistics is nothing but the movement of material and information. There could be no logistics without a proper flow of information. Hence, information technology is as important as the physical movement of the cargo.
What role is the government playing to improve and encourage the logistics sector?
I believe that the government is playing a stellar role and making great efforts to improve the trade by privatising ports, increasing the number of gateway ports, investing in highway projects, streamlining customs, exercise procedures and implementing EDI system of data transfer, and improving the rail network by commencing services into new locations.
Are Indian companies capable of competing internationally?
I am very positive that the Indian logistics companies, which are already competing internationally, will be a force to reckon with in the future. This is mainly because of a vast motivated skilled manpower and natural resources which are available to us. Today, most multinational companies have Indians in the senior management cadres and once the level of infrastructure in India reaches a comfortable level, I think we would see more and more Indian goods in foreign markets.