• News
  • August 7, 2023

TM International Logistics leverages Azure to streamline business processes and gain real-time insights

TM International Logistics leverages Azure to streamline business processes and gain real-time insights
TM International Logistics leverages Azure to streamline business processes and gain real-time insights
  • News
  • August 7, 2023

TM International Logistics leverages Azure to streamline business processes and gain real-time insights

Incorporated in 2002, TM International Logistics Limited (TMILL), a subsidiary of Tata Steel Limited, is an international logistics provider formed as a joint venture company of Tata Steel Limited, NYK Holding (Europe) BV, and IQ Martrade. Headquartered in Kolkata, TMILL offers a diverse portfolio of logistics services including railways, supply chain management (SCM), warehousing, port operations, ship agency, freight forwarding, custom house agency, inland logistics and shipping.

Need fo­­­r an integrated business application system

TMILL offers end-to-end logistics services in the areas of Ports, Marine Logistics, Custom Clearance, Inland Logistics, Warehousing, Railways, Freight Forwarding, Supply Chain, and Shipping. In the pursuit of innovation and excellence, TMILL decided to examine the current business environment and realized the need for a paradigm shift. A digital transformation was the need of the hour which could yield improvement in customer delight, optimized operations, and empowered employees.

Prior to the pandemic, TMILL conducted an in-depth assessment study of its business requirements across

      1. People – An external study to reorient organization structure
      2. Process – Identify opportunities for Business process re-engineering
      3. Technology – Build a solid tech foundation (Migrating to cloud)

Digitization being a clear aim for future success, these assessments closely examined the requirements and processes for unveiling legacy approaches that could be modernized. The technology stack was envisaged to be simple, secure, and sustainable. TMILL planned and started implementation on multiple digital tracks cutting across the business units and support functions to –

      1. Build a strong digital foundation on cloud.
      2. Integrated IT systems across business units.
      3. Digitization of support functions


    4. Employee portal and integrated HR systems for its employees.

This required upgrading and streamlining of processes in its SAP ERP system and modernization/implementation of applications across business units and support functions.

Considering its investment in Office 365 and the simplicity and security of the Azure platform, Microsoft Azure was the natural choice for implementation of applications from scratch and moving away from legacy systems.

TMILL has been a firm believer in modern cloud technology and they were one of the early adopters of Azure platform when they decided to move their vast SAP landscape in 2018.

TMILL awarded the project to MSRcosmos, a Microsoft partner with an advanced specialization partnership tag in Azure. MSR’s track record and hands-on experience in pioneering digital transformation also worked in its favor to win application modernization engagement of this scale.

When the pandemic struck India, the team had to understand the immense complexity of a logistics firm remotely from their homes, ensuring that goods and services were reaching on time. They needed to understand the intricate nature of TMILLs’ business and align their understanding with the execution of solutions.

The primary aspects of TMILL’s operations include movement, handling, and storing of goods – through ocean, air, road, and rail. The organization brings in-depth knowledge and diversity of logistics portfolio from vessel owning to warehousing to delivering tricky assignments across different locations in India and around the globe. TMILLs’ executives receive shipment details, and coordinate with customers until the goods reach the final destination. Multiple divisions engage together to ensure that any logistics-related requirement of the customer is taken care of in its complete totality.

Each business unit, though part of logistics service has its own unique operation and different team handling the same. This put a strain on gathering requirements. As this was the first time, TMILL was working on the revised processes required for integration and to ensure digital adoption.

Amidst the pandemic, TMILL and MSRcosmos leveraged Microsoft Teams for daily catch-ups and seamless collaboration. Being a long-term project, the resource allocation was done over a distributed model managed and handled remotely.

Centralizing and streamlining processes with Microsoft services and MSR’s rigorous approach

TMILL was looking to centralize all processes from customer enquiry, quotation, contracts, sales orders, operations to invoicing. The implementation approach was devised in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Railways, SCM & Warehouse
  • Phase 2 – Port Operations & MLS
  • Phase 3 – Freight Forwarding

The applications and databases developed in these phases are hosted on Microsoft Azure as App Services and use Azure Active Directory to authenticate with Office365 credentials of TMILL employees with secured access. The line of business applications was integrated to SAP through a custom-built interface anchored by MSR team, hosted on Azure as a VM, to transfer all information to SAP. This move integrated the business operations with finance to automate a few transactions in SAP resulting in enhanced confidentiality, data integrity, and accuracy.

MSRcosmos helped TMILL in leveraging Microsoft SharePoint to build support function applications such as Safety Portal, Ethics Portal and Vendor/Purchase Requisition Portal. SharePoint was also used as Central Document Management System (DMS) for documents generated across all applications, including integration with SAP HR to manage employee documents. An additional use case was building Employee Intraportal (enabled with holiday management), Voluntary Provident Fund, Performance Management System, Performance Improvement Plan, Compensation, and other internal apps.

These Microsoft services provided a host of benefits for TMILL across operations:

  • Overall digitization efforts across operations increased from 40% to 83%.
  • Highly secured and resilient environment with Azure as a service layer across Infrastructure (IaaS) and Applications.
  • Data integrity disciplines for precise decisions.
  • Reduced documentation errors (manual entries in many areas were eliminated via automation)
  • Turnaround time in the invoicing process has reduced from days to hours. This has enabled quicker reimbursement of statutory payments.
  • Processes are streamlined across every line of business.
  • Real-time analytics help understand the shipments handled across the organization at any given time.
  • Digitized support functions assisting in quicker solutioning and employee satisfaction.

With simplified processes, TMILL’s employees are exploring more features to improve other aspects of work. This marks a culture change for the organization, following a crucial digital transformation.

Very few companies would have executed a project of such stature and complexity during the pandemic. TMILL and MSRcosmos worked as a unified team, divided across cities, with a multitude of daily meetings and updates to stakeholders. More than 500+ man-months of delivery effort were spent on this ambitious Azure engagement which ran into multiple project tracks. The implementation happened within the defined timelines and TMILL has awarded an Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) to MSRcosmos.

Looking forward

TMILL has transformed into a technologically adept and innovative organization in two years. Aiming to continue in the same vein of digital transformation, TMILL is looking to combine automation, analytics, blockchain, and more technologies, powered by Azure, to take on more issues in the logistics industry.

“Our objective was to move our technology infrastructure to a level where we need not spend constant time in maintaining technology. Create simple and easily accessible data acquisition layer. Nimble customer-facing capabilities which can support agile development and prototyping, with weekly or even daily releases and an experimental “fail faster” mindset. All this to enable quick reactions to business and stakeholder requirements. Microsoft Azure platform with its capabilities and integration with Office 365 was a natural choice and the best-fit solution. With MSRcosmos, the process of transformation has been very smooth. We are looking towards constant evolving Microsoft services to help us further in our digital transformation journey.”

Abhishek Verma: Chief of IT


Credits: Originally published by Microsoft