A Technologist’s Tryst With Transportation (Part I)

They say that everything we’ve ever used – books, pens, chairs, computers, phones, your dining table, your car even, has been transported in a truck at least once. Not only are we affected by the transportation industry but we derive direct benefit from it. In fact, this maybe one of the only few industries which impacts everyone, from the farmer waiting for his water pump to the movie star waiting for his iPhone.

 

I would like to admit at the onset that I am no expert of the industry, I have negligible experience and at best I am an enthusiastic outsider. That being said I believe my point of view holds value because of the fact that I am from the outside; I see things simpler, I am unaware of the complexities that can cloud understanding. And so far what I’ve learnt is that the industry works on only one mantra: “Bhagwan Bharose”.

A snapshot from the TruckHall calendar

The industry is ignorant of the word guaranteed delivery. The market is ridiculously volatile with no warnings of the rise and fall in supply or demand, unexpected events have an incalculable chain effect, pricing is determined off the cuff, the brokers run this industry through unhealthy doses of haggling and threatening, most transporters are working to secure their territory by obscuring as much information as possible and if they can, they will try and bring another one down.

 

“Unorganized Sector” is probably too soft a term to describe the chaos that the transportation industry of the world’s 6th largest economy is. We at TruckHall are acutely aware of this problem but are not foolish enough to believe that we can solve it all by ourselves. The technology we are building is not meant to gain an edge over the competition as much as it is meant to deliver a platform for all the stakeholders of the industry to empower each other.

 

So where does one start solving this problem:

  • Documentation – Any transaction requires  the hard copies of at least a dozen documents  to be processed.
  • Payment – Most of the payment is done via cash/in-hand. The government’s best efforts to usher in a digital era has not gotten much more than a shrug from our suppliers.
  • Get all shippers using one software – Brave efforts have been made by companies like ShipX in the past, but none have succeeded in getting wide-spread industry usage.
  • Get truck owners using one software – Software, woh kya hota hain? Call karne se nahi hoga kya?
  • Procurement – Connect supply and demand. Seems easy enough, but not in an industry which believes in using procurement platforms either to discover brokers and then contact them offline or use these platforms to get quotes which they will then use in their bargaining wars.

 

That being said the situation is not entirely grim. Spending time with our operations team has helped us craft tech solutions in tune with their actual needs. We have managed to improve our efficiency by using technology to bolster our internal processes. Our traffic team has had improved truck placements after adopting technology to get intelligent supplier and rate suggestions. Communication overhead is being brought to a minimal, our entire team is on the same page, load requirements are being sent to suppliers via SMS as opposed to the to and fro calling that usually happens.

 

Maybe one day the trucking industry will ditch its fears and embrace technology for the powerful tool that it can be. Till then if you can imagine India as a real human body, with its highways as roads, and the goods being transported as blood, you will understand how important it is for this blood to keep pumping; nobody wants a heart attack.

Sai Krishna

Sai Krishna

Sai Krishna Vennamaneni is the Product Manager at TruckHall. He has worked with various tech startups in India for the last 6 years. He is a B.Tech in IT from MNNIT, Allahabad.

    

One thought on “A Technologist’s Tryst With Transportation (Part I)

  1. Wow ! I get to read this while my guitar I being shipped from Mumbai. I paid some money for the extra cushioning and all ?
    Nice read though.
    All the best to you guys !

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