Distribution Management

GGL increases ease of doing business through IT initiatives

Gujarat Gas Limited (GGL), a merged entity of GSPC Gas Company Limited and Gujarat Gas Company Limited, among others, has emerged as India’s leading city gas distribution player, with the largest customer base across all major user segments. These parent companies have brought in operational efficiency and 25 years of experience to CGL’s gas distribution business. Together, they have considerable resources, expertise and execution skills.

The new entity is committed to reach out to every natural gas user in its expanded geographical area. Given its size and scale, the combined entity has the ability to achieve efficiencies and effectively manage transformational changes in the sector. This in turn will increase productivity and benefit all the key stakeholders.

Distribution network

Formerly known as GSPC Distribution Networks Limited, GGL has a presence in 19 districts across Gujarat and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Thane, Maharashtra. The company’s distribution network comprises an over 16,000 km long gas pipeline network and 235 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations, constituting 22 per cent of the total CNG stations in the country. It provides 5.5 million metric standard cubic metres per day of natural gas to 34 per cent of domestic customers (1,080,000), 50 per cent of commercial customers and 46 per cent of industrial customers in India. It also caters to 2,778 small and medium industrial units, 11,500 commercial and non-commercial set-ups, and the transport segment.

Ease of doing business

The company has implemented several measures for the ease of doing business as a part of the Gujarat Industrial Policy, 2015, which focuses on “doing business” in Gujarat with ease as well as on the simplification of procedures and improvement of the business environment. GGL has improved its business practices, making them easier and more customer oriented. It has simplified the process of getting a piped natural gas (PNG) connection by putting all necessary information, such as the registration and connection process, the bill payment options and customer care services, on its website. Online bill payment for domestic connections, online bill payment through e-Gram centres for rural customers, online meter reading submission on a trial basis, online complaint submission and a speedy disposal mechanism, real time on-the-spot meter reading and bill generation, and investment in the CNG business are some of the key initiatives taken by the company for increasing the ease of doing business in Gujarat.

Information technology

In order to efficiently manage a large consumer base across different regions, information technology (IT) support is imperative. GGL has been successful in utilising the internet of things (IoT) and IT for providing better services to its customers. It has developed a website, which caters to almost all the needs and queries of consumers. Domestic, commercial and industrial consumers of PNG can register online for a connection by filling a simple form. A local office representative of GGL gets in touch with the registered consumers and helps them complete the process. Consumers can check which areas and localities come under the ambit of the company’s PNG network and contact the local distributors accordingly if required. The prices for retail selling of domestic PNG are also available along with the cost break-up. Information on commercial and industrial prices can be obtained by contacting the zonal office.

The company has set up more than 25 dedicated customer care centres to ensure safe and uninterrupted supply of natural gas to its customers at all locations across Gujarat. It provides multiple options to customers to submit their feedback, and register their complaints and queries. An emergency helpline number is also available, which enables immediate action to be taken.

GGL provides five options for bill payments. The first one is online payment on the website using net banking (zero convenience fees), credit cards, debit cards, or cash cards/ wallets. The second mode of payment is instapay or electronic bill payment and presentment. This service is provided to GGL by 46 Indian banks. The third method is payment at a State Bank of India (SBI) branch. As SBI is the biggest bank network in India with branches across the country, GGL has also tied up with it and accepts gas bill payment from PNG domestic customers at all the SBI branches.

The next method is e-Gram centres. To increase the availability of payment options for PNG domestic customers in rural areas and remote locations, the company has joined hands with 562 e-Gram centres, Department of Panchayati Raj, in Gujarat. Finally, bill payments can also be facilitated through the Department of Post (DoP). GGL has tied up with DoP for accepting payments from PNG domestic customers. The locations of the e-Gram centres and post offices are available online. The website lets consumers trace their payment history and give feedback as well. To ease the payment process further, there is a step-by-step pictorial description explaining the entire payment process.

Though metering is still done by officers, the reading is taken on a real-time basis. The facility to submit meter reading is also available in case the reading could not be taken by the officers. This facility is currently available only for domestic PNG customers in Surat, Ankleshwar, Bharuch and Tapi.

GGL is in the process of developing an Android application to provide these facilities on mobile phones. It has tied up with multiple payment wallets including Paytm, MobiKwik and Freecharge to allow bill payment using mobile applications.

In addition, the company has successfully implemented enterprise resource planning modules. These include industry-specific solutions for utilities and customer care systems, inventory management and plant maintenance solutions of SAP to address issues pertaining to billing, revenue collection, customer services management, metering management, inventory handling, and plant management. This comprehensive SAP solution is integrated with the existing SAP solutions for financial accounting and procurement, and significantly improves the efficiency, effectiveness, reliability and scalability of these functions. The company also uses the geographic information system to effectively manage its pipeline network.

A strong internal control framework and an elaborate internal control system ensure adherence to operating standards and elimination of fraud risks. It follows a comprehensive management assurance process, which deals with risks, compliances and assurances. The internal control framework has identified various areas where internal controls are critical. These include the financial control assurance processes, which lay down the procedures to be followed for activities that have control risk implications. In addition, the company has implemented a comprehensive compliance matrix for various groups and activities. These compliances are regularly reviewed by the internal audit team.

Conclusion

With a number of IT initiatives in place, GGL is one of the most technologically advanced distribution companies in India. These initiatives are in line with the prime minister’s Digital India campaign. The company is setting a benchmark for other states to include IT and IoT in their functioning in order to increase efficiency and improve the consumer experience.

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