BLUE DART : Remarkable Entry In The Express Industry.

News Clip : Cargo Talk

May-June 2003.

The courier industry in India has expanded its horizon to provide a wider range of services. Whereas it started initially as a service provider for the document and samples demand of industry,it is now viewed as an important part of the supply chain for industries, which demand speed, reliability, security and just-in-time distribution, Though this market is still in its infancy in India, it is growing says Tulsi Nowlakha Mirchandaney, senior vice president, marketing and projects, Blue Dart Express.

According to Mirchandaney, there has been a certain amount of consolidation in the international arena with the emergence of a few major players. Each has its own geographic strength, though there appears to be just one player that has a truly international span of operations. "In India, too a number of regional players and ground operators have been mushrooming that have labelled themselves as express service providers. Blue Dart has clearly differentiated itself by being the only player in the integrated air express segment with the focus being on India and the region, including the SAARC countries.

In Mirchandaney's opinion, express industry in India has had to build its own infrastructure to meet growths that could no longer rely on passenger-driven schedules and support sysytems. "Today, Blue Dart has the only dedicated logistics infrastructure in the country to provide a variety of logistics solutions to its customers,"she claims. Currently, the company has a 3-aircraft aviation system with an in-house ground handling and maintenance capability to provide confirmed uplift. The flights are scheduled at night to facilitate late cut-off and morning deliveries.

She emphasises on different marketing strategies followed by different express carriers. "Each carrier has to evolve a strategy that meets its own objectives. As an express airline, Blue Dart offers a range of services at various price options. In the end, the customer decides what is best suited to his needs and the value he can derive from the service offering,"explains Mirchandaney.

Giving an update of the state-of-the-art facilities offered by the company, she informs,"We have invested extensively in technology , towards integration, data flow, and customer software for greater customer convenience and efficiency. We have stringent security and quality norms, our own X-ray machines at our airside warehouses, our integrated network has the widest reach, and our people are skilled and committed professionals.

Further adding, she says that Blue Dart has benchmarked against the best and have set standards where there have been none. "We were the first to receive the ISO 9001 certificate in 1996 and have transited last year to the new ISO 9001-2000 standards,"she points out. According to her, the company's net services level is monitored daily on a set of given parameters and it currently operates at reliability levels of 99.95 per cent. "Our technology tools and customer software, which we provide free of charge to our customers, have been developed indigenously, unmatched in the domestic industry and parallel to those in the international space. Reliability and quality are some of our main areas of differentiation, and we have invested extensively to ensure these,"asserts Mirchandaney.

She also makes it clear that Blue Dart's terms and conditions of carriage are clearly mentioned on the back of every waybill, outlining the responsibilities of each party and the liability terms. "These correspond to practices worldwide, and I don't believe any changes need to be made at present. If perceived to be essential, the same should involve changes in commitments from both parties,"she opines.

Mirchandaney emphatically says that Blue Dart has endeavoured to expand its range of services to meet the customers' demand. "From primarily documents and samples to packages that support this critical supply chain, the composition of our product mix is increasingly weighing towards packages. This implies air capacity and we would add aircraft as and when demand dictates the necessity,"she goes on.

Recently, the package segment has shown strong growths, and this segment is a direct outcome of the airfreight capacity offered by Blue Dart's fleet of 3 aircraft. The company operated over 150 hours of charters carrying over 500 tonnes of material in the past four months. "We see an increasing demand for such movement and are currently the only cargo airline in the country capable of servicing such a demand,"concludes Mirchandaney.

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