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COVID-special: IOC digital platform can take 25 lakh LPG bookings everyday

As India fights the COVID-19 pandemic, state-run IOC has put in place a digital infrastructure to deal with the increase in demand for LPG

  • IOC had been putting in place several convenient modes of refill booking from home, like SMS-IVRS, WhatsApp, digital payment websites, among others

  • About 25 lakh customers are able to book for LPG refills every day from the comfort of their homes and take delivery of LPG refill cylinders

New Delhi: As India fights the COVID-19 pandemic and a lockdown has been in place for the past 37 days, state-run IOC (Indian Oil Corporation Ltd) has put in place a digital infrastructure to deal with the increase in demand for LPG. “For the benefit of its 13.11 crore LPG customers, IOC had been putting in place several convenient modes of refill booking from home, like SMS-IVRS, WhatsApp, digital payment websites and online refill booking through mobile apps. The LPG supply and 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. This way, about 25 lakh customers are able to book for LPG refills every day from the comfort of their homes and take delivery of LPG refill cylinders at their doorsteps,” said the OMC (oil marketing company) in a press release on Friday.

This has also helped reduce the burden on the state/district administrations and law-and-order machinery in policing the lockdown. IOC has also been encouraging LPG customers to make digital payments to avoid unnecessary handling of currency notes in view of COVID-19. The LPG emergency helpline number 1906 has also been kept operational.

Software keeping track of disbursement of RSP to Ujjwala beneficiaries

IOC’s LPG distributors are making refill deliveries on priority to LPG customers from BPL households under PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana), for whom the government has extended the facility of three free LPG refills during April, May and June. The robust software developed for the implementation of PMUY has enabled the Corporation to transfer the RSP for the first LPG refill directly into the bank accounts of 3.47 crore PMUY customers on its rolls, amounting to Rs 2,724 crore within a few days. The introduction of e-receipts for customers and invoice register in the software are other innovations, it said.

Data centres running 24x7

Considering the criticality of maintaining fuel supplies, especially LPG for households and petrol and diesel for emergency/essential/exempted services, from a countrywide network of 600+ locations, Indian Oil is running all its data centres on a 24x7 basis with 100 percent 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 IOC’s over 21,500 automated fuel stations. This enables Indian Oil teams to monitor daily sales on individual highways, in each city, state or region to be ready with sales plans for the future.

IOC’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 February 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.

Indian Oil’s critical locations operating with skeletal staff

Indian Oil’s critical locations, which continue to operate during the lockdown, are able to cope well with the new norms for social distancing because of technology. Its ‘smart terminals’ have already adopted advanced automation technology which 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.

The Intelli-Green software at select LPG bottling plants has achieved full automation of packed and bulk truck operations, 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 optimised workflows. With centralised automated systems taking care of core operations, the optimised manpower is free to focus on critical maintenance and safety-related issues. New needs of the various business functions arising out of the lockdown are being continuously supported with software additions and modifications.

Office at home

Since the national lockdown announced on March 24, Indian Oil 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, IOC 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 simulation of 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 and delivery boys, and farewells for retiring staff, things have gone digital through multiple tools.