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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 29
Wednesday July 28, 2021
Oh! By Golly Here Comes Kale

     Amar More is Director, Kale Logistics Solutions.
     Kale is pronounced (Kah-Lay) Kale is also a well-known last name in the Maharashtra State of India.
     Amar is well-known in air cargo and logistics circles as the ‘Go-to’ man who knows everything about technology. A professional with huge experience in supply chain, consulting and technology industries, he is sought after as a speaker in cargo conferences. He was a keynote speaker at Sustainable Development Goals of Sustainable Transport and Peace conference held at the United Nations, Geneva, where he spoke on ‘Facilitating International Trade by creating multimodal digital cargo communities.’ Director with Kale Logistics Solutions, More is also an elected representative of the technology domain on the Board of Directors of TIACA. Always on the lookout to bridge the technology gap between the developed and developing logistics industries globally, More spoke with ACNFT.

FT:   What is your top priority in July 2021 looking ahead?
AM:  Building Digital Cargo Communities around airports and ports for trade facilitation. We are experiencing tremendous demand for digitization of cargo at airports and ports and are currently actively working with around 40 airports and ports globally assisting them in decongesting their facilities, facilitating trade and making them more sustainable. We are working with several of the top 25 cargo airports in creating world class digital infrastructure for them for air cargo. Facilitating trade by creating such digital cargo communities at these airports and ports is our top priority and North America and the Middle East will be our focus area in the coming year.

FT:   How has Kale weathered the storm of COVID-19?
AM:  When COVID 19 started, we thought that it will significantly impact our revenues adversely as our revenues have a direct correlation to the shipment/cargo volumes. And, indeed, the pandemic did significantly impact us–but much to our surprise positively. We actually ended up doing over 25 percent better than over our planned budget. COVID 19 necessitated that the industry digitizes its operations not just for efficiency but for saving lives (remember the virus stays on paper for upto 72 hours and congestion aids the virus transmission). We saw that 2020 had at least 4-5 years of digitization packed into one. A lot of stakeholders who hitherto had viewed automation as a nice to have thing, started looking at automation as a business driver and we saw one of the best years in terms of demand for our cargo community and handling products in 2020.
     Having said that, execution wasn’t simple at all. Due to travel restrictions, we could not travel to meet our customers. Our employees had to work from home under several constraints. The second wave did impact a lot of families within our employee base as well as customers. However, this adversity gave us the tremendous opportunity to improve our processes and controls. We found efficient ways of working from home. We also implemented several systems in North America which is thousands of miles away successfully completely remotely. We also got several marquee customers during these times and also found interest of several investors/funds and ended up raising our first external funding.
     So, all in all, it all worked out quite well. As they say, each adversity brings an even bigger opportunity. And we now firmly believe in the same.

FT:   How Can Air Cargo Accelerate Global Recovery?
AM:  I always salute the air cargo industry and dare I say that if this industry weren’t there, many more lives would have been lost and supply chains broken. So, hats off to the Covid warriors of our industry who kept goods and aid moving, risking their lives. As the new dynamics evolve and manufacturing bases shift, this industry needs to be agile enough to cater to the shifting paradigms.
     And to do that, the industry which has been a laggard in digitization has to leapfrog to catch up or surpass the digitization in other industries like telecom, finance etc. There is a great push from regulators, customers and just the whole situation for the industry to leverage technology to eliminate excess paperwork, duplication of processes, higher dwell (idle) times and do all of this with minimal resources. The industry needs to question the conventional wisdom, shrug off the old ways of working and adopt the technological innovations to transform to the next levels of efficiency. There are several technologies available that can help the industry operate at least 30-40 percent more efficiently and these technologies don’t cost millions of dollars or significant capital investments. The industry just needs to start using some of these platforms for its metamorphosis. It’s time for the industry to move to a cloud (literally and digitally) and connect with its supply chain partners.
     This will help attract more cargo to this mode of transport and accelerate the global recovery.

FT:   How Will India Logistics Emerge From This Time?
AM:  We work with over 4,500 customers across 30 countries and believe it or not in terms of Technology adoption, India comes in the top 3 or 4. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention (or innovation) and some of the technology that severely constrained airports like Mumbai developed 7-8 years ago is becoming a need in the developed world now. As a matter of fact, India in the e-AWB ranking now stands anywhere between 4 to 6 globally which is indeed commendable.
     We saw the adoption of some of the use cases/features of our cargo community systems going up 9-10 times in the pandemic times. India had a strict lockdown and the huge amount of cargo still needed to move, be it pharmaceuticals, food or medical aid. We saw the Indian logistics industry lapping up technology like nobody’s business. The certificates for which people had to visit chambers offices could be received sitting at home and 24/7. The delivery orders became online. Customs transformed their processes. Airports like Bengaluru and Mumbai created and enhanced their air cargo single window systems. Forwarders and brokers moved to cloud-based systems for business continuity and helping their staff operate from home during the lockdowns. We saw papers replaced by QR codes.
     I feel the Indian Logistics industry has unlocked a lot of value during the pandemic times and has emerged stronger and much more digitized setting a benchmark for the world.

FT:   What Have You Learned?
AM:  You never know what you can do until you are pushed in the corner. If two years ago someone would have told me that you can still create world class software with ALL your employees working from home, that you can implement systems from India in places as far away as North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, I would have laughed my heart out. If someone would have said, people can move cargo in and out of large air cargo hubs based on QR codes (and no or little paper, people would have thought it to be a sci-fi imagination for our industry.
     But the reality is, all of this has happened in the last 18 months. It means that opportunities for improvement and innovation always exist and one must continuously keep looking for the same on the transformation journey. One must keep pushing oneself to the corner all the time.

FT:   Attend Public Gatherings or a Trade Show 2021
AM:  I am fully vaccinated now and I just hope the travel restrictions will be relaxed. I intend to travel post September 2021. However, we all have to be wary of the third wave and with the virus mutating, one can’t predict the future. India was a global case study in the first wave and faced a disaster in the second wave. So, it all depends on Mr. or Ms. Corona! But the will and intention to attend trade shows like TIACA Executive Summit is certainly there.

FT:   What Surprised You During The Pandemic?
AM:  Fortitude and adaptability of human beings. I always knew that there are good people in the world but the pandemic actually brought them into the limelight and showed us that people can risk their lives to save others’ lives. And I just don’t mean the medical professionals; they are of course considered next to God for all the right reasons. But I also saw other Gods like the essential commodity store operators, transport workers, policemen and of course the logistics industry. They all kept the world going. Their resolve to serve the community in difficult times is something that surprised me with gratitude.
     The other was adaptability. People adapted to working the way they had never seen or imagined themselves doing. Kids could study completely remotely, people could work from home efficiently, the increased awareness of sanitization, the way people started meeting online. It was simply amazing to see us humans adapting to the challenges posed by adversity. No wonder we all believe in Mr. Darwin and his theory.
FT:   Who Are The Heroes?
AM:  It’s very difficult to choose any one person when so many heroes emerged during the pandemic. But I would definitely like to mention one name and that is the Senior Vice President and Head of Cargo of Mumbai International Airport, Manoj Singh. He is an inspiring leader that the world doesn’t know much about. All throughout the pandemic, he did not take a single day off. Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country and a major gateway for pharma, medical instruments, food and other cargo. He made sure that the airport kept working even during strict lockdowns. He worked with the community and regulators in ensuring that cargo got delivered on time. He is someone who rolls up his sleeves and is ready to pick up packages if there is shortage of staff on the ground. He has transformed a severally constrained air cargo airport using digitization and successfully managed the technological and process changes even during the pandemic. His indomitable spirit and panache for digitization definitely makes him a hero in the difficult times.

FT:   Imagine All Kale Business Partners Together At Once
AM:  We firmly believe that we, as Kale, are born to transform this industry. Our mission is to connect the cargo stakeholders and empower them with digitization. We want to democratize technology in our industry wherein people don’t have to invest millions of dollars just to be digitized. Our raison d’etre is digitization of the logistics industry and we live and breathe by this motto.
     We are very proud of the work that we have done so far. No one ever believed that over 2,500 companies from different business lines could operate on one airport cloud solution to facilitate trade and exchange data digitally but we made this happen with the help of our customers. And we are not just doing this in one location, we are creating digital communities globally across North America (where we created the first airport cargo community system in the region and are now working with several large airports to replicate the same), South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific. We have helped our customers do more with less. And it’s less talk and more action.
     Through our innovations, we have helped reduce container dwell times at ports by 75 percent, handlers’ documentation costs by 80 percent, reduced the tax refund times of exporters by 90 percent, and are helping airports save about 7 million copies of paper annually (equivalent to about 1,500 trees annually), reduce truck waiting times at airports by 40 percent, reduce the documentation time at the airports and ports by 75 percent, improve ‘ease of doing business’ rankings of countries we work with. And all these are well documented case studies and have received awards from neutral global forums such as the United Nations and several governments.
     We know that some markets are more difficult than others but we promise that in spite of the challenges, we will not be deterred. We will persevere and we will continue to help our customers become more efficient, safer and more sustainable. And most importantly, we want to express our gratitude to this industry and its stakeholders for believing in us time and again!!!

FT:   How Will Air Cargo Organized Events Change?
AM:  I believe and I have experienced that most events will move to a hybrid mode i.e. onsite and online. Indeed, this will help most organizations reach much higher number of participants. I recently spoke at and attended the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) and it bears testimony to what I say. It was a fantastic combination of in-person and an online conference.
     This is going to increase the reach of these associations and event organizers tremendously.
Tirthankar Ghosh
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