Lockdown has spurred Indian Oil to emerge as a more technology-aided PSU to serve millions of clientele across the nation
For IndianOil digital technology has emerged as the fulcrum around which the entire organization is functioning seamlessly to maintain the supply line of essential fuels with minimal disruptions. Supply & distribution software had to be primed to its full potential to deal with the sharp rise in cooking gas demand from households during the lockdown period. IndianOil is observing the year 2020 as the ‘Year of Digitalization’ to highlight the current critical role and future potential of digitalization in driving change and transforming people and processes. Considering the criticality of maintaining fuel supplies, especially LPG for households and petrol & diesel for emergency/essential/exempted services, from a countrywide network of 600+ locations, IndianOil is running all its data centers on a 24×7 basis with 100% uptime for all business-critical applications, including SAP ERP software. An integrated retail automation system is enabling real-time monitoring and data transfer to and from the Corporation’s 21,500+ automated fuel stations. This enables IndianOil teams to monitor daily sales on individual highways, in each city, state or region to be ready with sales plans for the future. The Corporation’s tailor-made apps for its channel partners, vendors and service providers have also come in handy in the current crisis. While fuel station dealers and LPG distributors are able to track details of their indents, sales and balances online, another dedicated portal allows bulk customers to view their offtake details on a real-time basis. A contract labour management system launched in Feb. 2020 facilitates contractors in maintaining the data of workers under them and generate their wage register. A bill tracking dashboard enables vendors to submit bill-wise details and track their bill payments status online. IndianOil’s critical locations, which continue to operate during the lockdown, are able to cope well with the new norms for social distancing, again thanks to technology. For instance, its ‘smart terminals’ have long since adopted advanced automation technology that allows them to operate with skeletal staff. Tank-truck crews picking up product loads from these terminals are equipped with smart cards that permit self-service, right from a pre-timed entry to exit. Similarly, the Intelli-Green software at select LPG bottling plants has achieved full automation of packed and bulk truck operations, again from entry to exit. RFID technology and other innovations introduced at the polymer plant in Panipat and polymer terminal in Paradip have likewise helped automate inbound and outbound processes with optimized workflows. With centralized automated systems taking care of core operations, the optimized manpower is free to focus on critical maintenance and safety-related issues. The needs of the various business functions arising out of the lockdown are being continuously supported with software additions and modifications. Since the national lockdown announced on March 24th, 2020, IndianOil employees in non-critical administrative offices have been working from home, providing backend support to the frontline teams manning the critical locations. To align with the unprecedented scenario, the Corporation has attempted to create a digital twin of the workplace for its employees working from home. Virtual private networks (VPN) are being used to connect people to office servers and business applications and data hosted in them. Web-conferencing is enabling simulate office scenarios that require group discussion and collective decision-making. Right from Company Board meetings to senior management interactions with employee groups, field officers, resellers, petrol pump attendants & delivery boys, and farewells for retiring staff, things have gone digital through multiple tools. New procedures have been put in place for processing bills, seeking approvals and making payments online. An Enterprise Content Management System rolled out in April 2019 to achieve a paperless office has proved to be invaluable in this crisis time. It hosts modules like collaboration, document management, e-approvals & business workflow automation, obviating the need for physical movement of files. The post-lockdown announcement, additional apps were developed overnight for employees and their families seeking teleconsultation with doctors on the Corporation’s panels, and to enable work-from-home employees to mark their daily attendance and also give their Covid-19 status. A time-office attendance management system captures employee attendance details at 500+ locations on a real-time basis. The lockdown has also spurred a technology-aided learning revolution in IndianOil. In Sept. 2019, the Corporation had launched Swadhyaya as an e-learning platform accessible to its employees from anywhere, anytime and on any device. With the entire content developed in-house by subject matter experts, Swadhyaya currently has about 470 modules covering about 70 business functions, and more content is being added on a continuous basis. The popularity of the e-portal can be gauged from the fact that over 17,500 IndianOil employees have accessed and completed over 4.5 lakh e-modules during the lockdown period.