Bangalore: Local metal makers who so far relied on trucks to move their raw materials and finished goods are switching to container trains for their reliability and efficiency.
Earlier this week, aluminium maker Vedanta Aluminium Ltd moved 2,430 tonnes of aluminium ingots, meant for exports, from its factory at Jharsuguda in Orissa to Visakhapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh on a container train owned and operated by Arshiya Rail Infrastructure Ltd, the rail subsidiary of logistics firm Arshiya International Ltd.
On the return leg, the train will transport raw materials required to fuel production at the Jharsuguda plant.
Customized rake: Arshiya’s containers for Vedanta can load cargo from the top, raising effeciency by at least three times of a side-loading one.
Last year, Sical Multimodal and Rail Transport Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of Sical Logistics Ltd, started carrying copper concentrates and cathodes for Hindustan Copper Ltd, to and from its factories at Ghatsila in Jharkhand and Khetri in Rajasthan.
Some of India’s container train operators are trying to attract customers with customized offers such as investments in specialized containers, as well as loading and unloading equipment to increase efficiency in logistics operations.
For instance, Arshiya Rail has developed containers for Vedanta that can load cargo from the top, increasing efficiency by at least three times a typical side-loading container.
“We have been able to initiate business with Vedanta by making a customized solution for them, where we have provided dedicated rakes with custom-built containers that help in not only decreasing operating costs for Vedanta, but also reduce damage to their cargo,” said Sajal Mittra, chief executive officer of Arshiya Rail Infrastructure.
Vedanta was earlier moving its raw materials and finished goods by trucks. “But this exercise was found to be unreliable,” said a Vedanta executive, requesting anonymity as company policy doesn’t allow him to speak with the media.
Among other issues in transporting through trucks, Vedanta ran the risk of not being able to reach a ship in time if the trucks broke down on the way.
“Moving finished goods in rail containers raises the reliability of product distribution phenomenally because all the quantity moves together rather than in small lots on several trucks,” said Mittra.
“Our rail solution enhances value proposition for large corporations in this time of economic slowdown when there is immense pressure to increase profitability and reduce operational costs,” said Ajay S. Mittal, chairman and managing director of Arshiya International.
Arshiya Rail expects to sign more long-term contracts ranging from three-five years over the next few months.
The firm has ordered 30 rakes (one rake can carry 90 standard containers).