A2B ? Banking on BharatBenz for critical operations

A2B ? Banking on BharatBenz for critical operations

- BharatBenz 17th March 2020

The transport of perishable goods in quick time calls for highly dependable vehicles that 
don’t fail when it matters most. Find out how Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B) found long-lasting 
answers to its problems when it opted for BharatBenz trucks that have added a whole new 
dimension to the marquee food chain’s fleet. N. Balasubramanian gets the details in an 
exclusive interview with V. Vishnu Shankar, Director, Adyar Ananda Bhavan Sweets India (P) 
Ltd.

 

If you have travelled across the southern State of Tamil Nadu, there is no way you could 
have missed one of the eye-catching yellow-blue outlets of Adyar Ananda Bhavan. A2B, as 
it’s more popularly known, is one of the most sought-after chains of vegetarian restaurants 
in South India, with over 145 outlets across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and a few more 
overseas. Operating in the food sector has its own set of unique challenges, the main one 
being shipping raw materials and finished food products which have very little shelf life and 
demand fast transportation under controlled temperature levels. Having been in the 
business for over three decades, A2B has all the necessary infrastructure and expertise in 
place, as reflected in its position as one of the most respected and preferred brands in the 
sector.

 

A2B’s logistics operations are broadly classified into three parts: a) transport of ready-to-eat 
restaurant food for which it uses small commercial vehicles; b) movement of goods from 
factory to city outlets which is handled by ICV vehicles; and c) long distance inter-city 
transport involving shipment of critical products like milk for which medium-duty vehicles 
are deployed.

 

Giving an overview of A2B’s operations, V. Vishnu Shankar, Director, Adyar Ananda Bhavan 
Sweets India, says: “Our main operation hub, including our mother plant, is located at 
Ambattur in Chennai. We have another plant in Bangalore, and two more mid-size facilities 
in Coimbatore and Thanjavur. The raw materials reach our two main plants from where they 
are shipped to our outlets in both States.”

 

“Earlier, our vendors used to send them directly to our outlets but now we have 
consolidated the operation and handle the transport ourselves. We have our own dairy in 
Namakkal from where we procure close to 35,000 litres of milk every day and send it to all 
our outlets across Tamil Nadu and Bangalore,” he adds. In addition to its chain of 
restaurants, A2B has close to 160 distributors for its FMCG products, which is one of its 
fast-growing business areas. The brand is also present outside India with four restaurant 
outlets in the US and one each in Malaysia, Singapore and Kenya.

 

THE 'BENZ' FACTOR

 

A2B has a total fleet strength of 189 vehicles of which 26 are from BharatBenz – mostly 
medium-duty trucks and a few heavy-duty ones too. When asked about how A2B’s 
association with BharatBenz began and how much of an influence the ‘Benz’ name had to 
play, Shankar responds: “Back then, my uncle aspired to buy a Benz vehicle. We got a 
Mercedes Benz car and had to wait for six months for the vehicle number plate! Such was 
the craze and demand for the Benz brand. Once Daimler’s BharatBenz came into the truck 
market, we were excited and wanted our drivers to enjoy the ‘Benz’ comfort and experience 
like how we did.”

 

MATTER OF TRUST

 

Though BharatBenz vehicles account for only a small part of A2B total’s fleet, it is the kind of 
operations they are deployed for that reflects the reliability of the brand. A2B has two 
vehicles that carry milk from its dairy in Namakkal, clocking close to 900 km each on a daily 
basis – one to Chennai and another to Bangalore – and both are BharatBenz trucks.  
Explaining how BharatBenz became a mainstay for the critical operation, Shankar reveals: 
“We wanted a vehicle that could run for long distance every day. We were using a different 
brand but faced serious issues related to vehicle stability and engine heating due to which 
our drivers were not happy. After trying another brand, we wanted to try out BharatBenz in 
2014. The MDT vehicles delivered much better performance and it was easy for us to judge 
and measure the benefits.”

 

“Within six to seven months we were able to calculate our investment and savings – the 
average cost was less than 14 paisa per km which was significantly lesser than other 
vehicles. Both vehicles ran for 7,50,000 km without changing the clutch plate, which was 
quite unbelievable. We had four drivers for each vehicle given the intensity of the operation; 
the vehicles were more or less on road 24 x 7. Going by the results, we were thoroughly 
convinced that BharatBenz was the best choice for such demanding operations,” he adds. 
A2B’s BharatBenz MDT vehicles were among the first to cross 1 million kms in the country 
and one of them was part of the ‘BharatKaBenz Yatra’ held in late 2018.

 

Currently, A2B’s BharatBenz fleet is deployed for three applications – transport of water, 
milk and regular goods (dry and reefer containers) and includes the following models and 
the number of vehicles (as indicated in parentheses): 914 (10), 1214 (7), 1617 (4), 3123 (2), 
1014 (1), 2523 (1) and 1414 (1), with one more vehicle getting added shortly. Given the 
rigorous operations of the food chain, BharatBenz vehicles alone have covered over 1.5 
crore (15 million) km in total, an astonishing figure that is greater than travelling 20 times to 
the moon and back! Is there any further need to discuss about reliability, performance and 
efficiency!

 

EXTRA MILE SERVICE & SUPPORT

 

An important factor that contributes to the high uptime and fast turnaround times of A2B’s 
BharatBenz vehicles is the company’s focus on regular service and periodic maintenance 
done with utmost care. Says Shankar: “Though the initial cost of BharatBenz vehicles was 
relatively higher than other trucks, we are satisfied with the overall performance and the  
savings we have seen over the lifecycle of the trucks. We were also happy with the kind of 
service support they have delivered. For other brands, we have original spares, alternative 
spares and even many duplicate spares, as a result of which we could easily get cheated. 
With BharatBenz, one thing is clear – the service station is our only source and there is no 
chance of any duplication.”

 

Highlighting the benefits of being a subscriber of BharatBenz’ annual maintenance contract 
(AMC) package, he adds: “We have also signed up for their AMC scheme which gives us the 
privilege of getting our vehicles serviced at any of their outlets. Most of our vehicles cover 
long distances in short time and so the AMC is very helpful. We pay once a year and get 
complete support on priority which makes a big difference to our operations. We have the 
confidence that someone is there to help us in case of any trouble; there have been 
instances where the mistake was on our side but they still helped us out without 
complaining. We have a very good relationship with BharatBenz and their team is always 
ready to extend whatever support is needed. They were very supportive when we bought 
the first two vehicles, and even now, after their brand has been well-established, the same 
support is extended, which is very appreciable.”

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO IoT

 

In order to carve a niche in a highly competitive market, in any field, quality vendors are 
indispensable. The same holds good in A2B’s case, which sources key aggregates and parts 
for its fleet from some of the best in the business: reefer containers from Surakhsha, tankers 
from NS Rama Rao, and AC units from Thermo King. Leveraging its know-how on technology 
and digitization, A2B is eagerly awaiting to implement IoT solutions across its fleet to be able 
to further optimise operations and reduce costs wherever possible. It is waiting to try out 
the new BharatBenz BS-VI range that comes with interesting fleet management solutions 
and Driver State Monitoring (DSM) among a host of other features. “We will be one of the 
first customers of BharatBenz’ BS-VI MDT range and hope to see more IoT solutions from 
BharatBenz which we feel would add a lot of value to our operations,” Shankar states.

 

MAJOR EXPANSION PLANS

 

The FMCG biz is at the heart of A2B’s expansion plans, along with the addition of new 
restaurant outlets within India and also overseas. Shankar reveals: “We have major 
expansion plans in the FMCG space and are planning to appoint 200 more distributors and 
superstockists apart from the existing 160. After BS-VI comes in, we plan to buy around 6-7 
new trucks. As for our restaurant business, we are looking to expand more into Tier III and IV 
cities by adding around 7-8 new locations. On the dairy side, we plan to increase our 
capacity to 50,000 litres per day. For all these, we will need trucks and are considering 
opting for BharatBenz.”  

 

“We are also expanding globally – we have four outlets in the US and are adding two more. 
We have a new outlet coming up in Sydney and Nairobi. We have an outlet in Singapore and 
Malaysia and are adding two more in Singapore,” he adds. As a closing remark, we ask the 
young director about A2B’s success mantra to which he responds with a gentle smile: 
“Success comes from the kind of efforts our team puts in and the kind of confidence our 
team exudes. Our employees are our driving force. We are into the food industry, so every 
second matters; every vendor and partner like BharatBenz is critical. All of them are part of 
our success story.”

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