In the midst of passing and coming moments, the present times always remain in transition. The universal clock keeps recycling the chain of momentary ripples in and around the cosmic entities without wasting any space to idleness. Logic is at the core of sustainable times; we are envisioning ahead. In global supply chain management, this universally eternal mantra is being most perfectly implemented by LEAP India Private Limited.
The Founder and Managing Director, Sunu Mathew, explains that LEAP stands for Leading Enterprise in Asset Pooling. As an asset pooling company, LEAP specializes in the supply chain solutions industry, focusing on the unit load – specifically, the timber pallet. This pallet is the foundation for transferring a one-unit load between the supplier, manufacturer, 3PL, and retailer before reaching the customer.
LEAP has been driving a wide range of supply chain industries nationwide since its inception in 2013. LEAP’s unique selling proposition lies in its ability to provide customized, cost-effective solutions that cater to the specific needs of each of its clients. With over 70% market share in pallet pooling, LEAP is India’s premiere asset pooling company with over 2500 locations, over six million total assets managed, and more than 4000 consumer touchpoints in India.
The Greatest Value Addition
Established in 2013 with a mission of quality supply chain solutions, LEAP has forged the path ahead with the most exceptional execution, planning and management tailored for our esteemed customers nationwide. It has created a niche in the supply chain industry and established itself as a brand that carries immense trust from everyone associated with it.
LEAP is also the leading provider of wooden pallets and foldable large containers (FLCs), crates and many other returnable packaging solutions, which have considerably reduced transportation costs, aimed for lesser wastage, minimal inventories, and heightened efficiencies in the Supply Chain Management workflow.
LEAP is now well-positioned in a lucrative market, as India is on the cusp of significant changes in the supply chain industry. The government has mandated reducing supply chain costs from 14% to 9% as a percentage of GDP. To achieve this goal, LEAP must move its products in unit loads, making its services even more crucial to the industry. LEAP understands the importance of optimizing the supply chain process by minimizing the number of times products must be handled, reducing the likelihood of damage or loss. By focusing on the unit load and utilizing its expertise in asset pooling, LEAP helps its clients reduce costs, increase efficiency, and ultimately deliver greater value to their customers.
According to Sunu, their unique offering is a pooling model where they provide rental services for assets to various customers. It means that customers can use the assets at different times and pay only for what they use, reducing capital expenditure costs and enabling focus on operational expenditures. Additionally, LEAP takes care of any impairment to the assets, ensuring seamless and hassle-free operations for its customers.
Ensuring an Uninterrupted Flow
In terms of competition, any pooling model needs a standardized unit load that should be used across all four supply chain stages – supplier, manufacturer, 3PL, and retailer. Different entities cannot use different pallets, requiring re-palletization and leading to significant additional costs in the supply chain. Only by providing a standardized pallet that is consistent throughout the supply chain can one ensure a seamless flow of goods and reduce costs for all parties involved, meaning that the asset pooling industry is indeed a high barrier-to-entry industry with a lot of underlying factors that make it difficult for new players to enter this market.
Furthermore, LEAP’s sustainability practices align with India’s sustainability goals, as it sources all its timber from sustainable forests, where the team ensures that three more are planted for every tree cut. This sustainable sourcing of timber helps them meet India’s stringent laws on tree cutting and positions them as a company committed to long-term sustainable practices.
Their commitment to leveraging technology to deliver efficient and cost-effective solutions for their clients is what sets them apart from the competition. Their in-house warehouse management systems are designed to track inventory and orders in real time, providing complete visibility and control. Their focus on innovation and technology enables them to stay ahead of the rapidly evolving supply chain management industry and offer cutting-edge solutions to their clients.
Technovating The SCM Landscape
At LEAP, they recognize the critical role of technology in the modern supply chain landscape. Their warehouse management systems are customized to meet the specific needs of their clients, providing complete visibility and control over their supply chain operations. “We also invest heavily in research and development, enabling us to stay ahead of the curve and offer innovative solutions that drive value for our clients,” he says, who, in the past, was tasked with the management of the entire supply chain of a cosmetic company, L’Oréal. He was responsible for overseeing the manufacturing and consumer product supply chains. It involved sourcing products from 18 different countries and internal forecasting, warehouse management, transportation, and distribution to the last retailer in the country. He gained valuable experience in the entire process, from manufacturing to sourcing to supplying the products to the customers.
During that time, India began exploring B2B supplies for modern retail, and online sales were also emerging. To maintain the quality of the products, his team had to keep the temperature of the products below 18 degrees throughout the year. As a result, the company cut down distributors, streamlined the supply chain, and improved its efficiency.
The success of LEAP can be attributed to the strong leadership provided by Sunu and his team of experienced professionals. With over 25 years of business experience, he is seasoned strategic management, marketing, sales, and supply chain solutions professional. His educational background, including an MBA from FMS/IIRM, SMP from IIM Calcutta, and MDP from INSEAD France, has helped him develop a comprehensive understanding of the logistics and supply chain industry.
The Leadership of an Exemplar
Sunu’s leadership and expertise have been invaluable to LEAP’s growth and success. He led LEAP’s focus on innovation and technology. With his astute leadership, the company has developed state-of-the-art technology solutions that have helped streamline its operations and improve its service offerings. This focus on innovation has helped LEAP stay ahead of the competition and deliver cutting-edge solutions to its clients.
Integrity is one of the qualities people respect in him as a business leader. He always aimed to show a strong sense of honesty, ethics, and transparency, often associated with trustworthiness and reliability.
Another important quality is vision. He looks beyond the current situation and imagines a better future for their organization.
Resilience and adaptability are other key qualities that people admire about him. Leaders must handle challenges and setbacks with grace and determination in today’s fast-changing business environment. He is always ready to adjust his strategies and methods as needed to stay ahead of the competition and meet the changing needs of his customers.
In his opinion, no aspect of business or daily life can be separated from modern technology, such as AI and ML. These technologies are especially useful for forecasting and trend analysis, and they can predict future situations with impressive accuracy. However, the situational analysis still requires human input. Without proper input, AI and ML cannot plan for the future effectively.
Advancing on the Techno-Waves
AI and ML are also changing the way we manage our warehouses. For instance, they are being used in forklifts or racking operations, reducing the need for manual labour. A warehouse that does not use ASRS requires around 100 people to run, whereas only five people can manage an ASRS system backed by AI and ML technology.
ML algorithms can also optimize logistics routes and schedules by analyzing data on traffic patterns, weather conditions, and delivery times to ensure timely and cost-effective delivery.
At LEAP, they recognize the importance of embracing these technologies to stay ahead of the curve and deliver cutting-edge solutions to their clients. They have been investing in AI and ML research and development for several years now and are testing these technologies to incorporate them into their SCM solutions.
For example, they have developed an AI-powered inventory management system that analyzes sales data, supplier lead times, and inventory costs to optimize inventory levels and reduce the risk of stockouts or overstocking. They have also integrated ML algorithms into their logistics optimization solution to improve routing and scheduling efficiency and reduce transportation costs.
One of the biggest challenges they face is ignorance. Many people are unaware of the benefits that modern supply chain management techniques can bring to their businesses. If they incorporated the best technology in their supply chain management, with the unit load as the fulcrum, customers would see a massive shift in their operations and profitability.
However, Sunu has observed that big companies are hesitant to adopt new technologies, citing short-term costs versus long-term benefits. “This reluctance is hindering our progress in this area.” If these big companies take the lead and invest in technology for their supply chain management, they can improve their operations’ efficiency and reap greater profits, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
To overcome these challenges, he is ensuring that LEAP becomes a knowledge powerhouse. “We must stay informed about the latest advancements in supply chain management and technology and demonstrate the value of adopting modern techniques to our customers. By positioning ourselves as experts in the field, we can drive change in the industry and improve our operations’ efficiency.”
Also, in general, the supply chain industry is currently facing several challenges, including:
- Supply chain disruptions: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions, including labour shortages, production shutdowns, transportation restrictions, and border closures.
- Changing consumer demands: Consumer preferences and behaviours are constantly evolving, and companies must adapt quickly to meet these demands.
- Cybersecurity threats: The increasing use of technology and data in supply chain operations has also increased the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.
- Environmental sustainability: Companies are under increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt more sustainable supply chain practices.
- “To overcome these challenges, we need to consider the following strategies:”
- Develop agile and flexible supply chain processes that quickly adapt to changing market conditions and consumer demands.
- Build strong relationships with suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders to ensure continuity of supply and demand.
- Invest in technology and data analytics to improve supply chain visibility, optimize inventory levels, and identify potential disruptions before they occur.
- Implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect your company’s data and supply chain operations.
- Embrace sustainable supply chain practices, such as reducing packaging waste, optimizing transportation routes, and sourcing materials from environmentally responsible suppliers.
However, he believes that these challenges present opportunities for growth and innovation. LEAP constantly looks for ways to improve its operations through technology-driven solutions, process optimization, or employee training and development. They also maintain close relationships with their clients and work collaboratively with them to find solutions that meet their evolving needs.
Words for the Wise
For any budding entrepreneurs out there, Sunu’s advice would be to consider supply chain management as a potentially lucrative industry for the next three-four decades. Education, pharma, and supply chain are the three fields that are expected to perform well and be the golden roosters of any economy, particularly in India.
However, he wants to emphasize that supply chain management is not a field that can be managed solely by working on an Excel sheet. If you want to succeed in this industry, you must be willing to put in 15-16 hours of work each day to understand the current operations and how you can incorporate new technologies or simplify processes for the customer. You must have a keen eye for execution because India is a vast geography, and all four regions behave differently.
It’s also important to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in the industry to identify new opportunities and stay ahead of the competition. In addition, it’s critical to build strong relationships with suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders in the industry. These relationships will be vital in helping you build a strong reputation, gain new business, and grow your brand.
Finally, always watch the big picture and be open to new ideas and opportunities. The supply chain industry is constantly evolving, and successful entrepreneurs will be those who can adapt to change and stay ahead of the curve.
A Transformed Future
On envisioning scaling brand LEAP’s operations and offerings in the future, he divulges that they will focus on expanding their geographic reach, diversifying their service offerings, and investing in new technologies. To achieve these goals, they will continue expanding their warehouse and distribution network across India while exploring opportunities to expand into new markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
They also plan to diversify their service offerings beyond traditional warehousing and distribution to include value-added services such as kitting, labelling, packaging, transportation management, and e-commerce fulfilment.
“Finally, we will continue to invest in new technologies such as AI, ML, and blockchain to enhance our operational efficiency and provide greater transparency and visibility to our customers,” he concludes.