From warehouse operations to warehouse maintenance, SILA Group offers a buffet of services to the warehousing segment. Rushabh Vora, Co-Founder & CEO, SILA Group, writes about how FM is incorporating more and more warehouse functions, and the role of technology.
Categories of warehousing clients
FM services providers are typically engaged by three types of customers in the warehousing & logistics segment: industrial park owners/developers, warehouse occupiers such as large corporates and e-commerce companies, and 3PL players (third-party logistics) that operate multi-use, multi-territory warehouses.
Logistics parks, 3PL players and end-user warehouses account for approximately 10% of our revenues. We constantly innovate and broaden our scope of services to meet the changing needs of clients. The current gamut of services goes far beyond traditional FM services that we provide at commercial parks, especially when providing services inside a warehouse for a 3PL player or an e-commerce player.
We have begun providing warehouse operations support – data entry, technology-driven forklift operations support, packaging – to many of our customers. Larger parks, ports, and Container Freight Stations (CFS) have begun expressing interest in outsourcing some core operational areas such as crane operations & heavy machine operations support.
Robotics and IoT
At SILA, we have begun deploying robotic machines for cleaning, and are experimenting with robotic and sensor-based technology to make forklift operations more efficient.
To clean high ceilings, walls and roofs, we use scissor & boom lifts and have explored robotics to clean solar panels that are installed at some of our sites.
IoT based sensors: We have implemented sensor-based technology to aid with energy management, air quality and predictive maintenance. This technology provides our teams with real-time data that we use to make the overall process of FM more efficient. Additionally, we have also begun using sensors to track battery life & diesel consumption patterns for forklifts, cranes, and other heavy machinery at warehouses.
The Digital Backbone
As a part of our digital transformation program, we now use a platform called SILA Connect to aid our operations & compliances. We use our back-end technology to monitor various asset level parameters that ensure smooth operations at the warehouse.
We use QR codes to monitor all our activities, including cleaning. Our work at each warehouse is broken into tasks that have a corresponding reminder mechanism. An employee scans the code, checks off what’s done, takes a photo of the finished task and uploads it.
SILA Connect is also used for onboarding employees and for digital attendance. We have an open API in the app with a third-party operator to do background checks and verification of potential employees within 48 hours, before onboarding them. This helps prevent theft in e-commerce and electronics warehouses.
Trends in Warehousing FM
Switch to Organised Service Providers – This has begun across most major logistics & warehousing clusters and freight corridors across the country, especially outside the metros and Tier 1 cities. As the sector gets more and more institutionalised, clients will require high levels of compliance & ensure ESG standards.
SLA based contracts: We have begun employing a fixed fee-based model, driven by SLAs, while working with park owners, end-user operators and e-commerce companies. FM budgets for end-users are typically low, whereas common area maintenance (CAM) income for developers/park owners is typically only INR 0.40-1 per sq ft. Organised service providers will find it difficult to compete with often non-compliant local vendors on contracts that are structured as a manpower + fee model.
We arrive at a workable solution by signing long-term fixed fee, SLA-based contracts with most of our warehousing clients. We make large investments in the machinery and technology to drive efficiency. This is a trend that will only grow with time, as labour costs keep rising.
Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG): Ensuring the highest level of ESG standards while providing FM services at warehouses and logistics parks has become critical. We are now reporting ESG compliance to our customers every month. We ensure that we maintain a diverse FM workforce, try to use environmentally friendly products & chemicals, and provide community welfare support for the villages & communities in the surrounding areas of the logistics park.
Specialized services: The demand for Specialized Facilities Management services at highly sensitive warehousing facilities such as cold storages, clean rooms and vaccine storage facilities has increased post the pandemic.
We are excited about the opportunity that industrial & warehousing clients have brought for us. We are bullish about the opportunity for high-quality, organised services providers at warehouses, logistics parks, ports and manufacturing facilities over the next decade!