by January 12, 1998 0 comments

The most
challenging assignment for HPCL this year was the implementation of systems for customer
service. Ever since the government started dismantling the APM (Administered Price
Mechanism, under which the price of petroleum products are regulated), it became necessary
for us to be market driven to face competition. With the coming up of private
refineries–Reliance and Essar–and the entry of multi-nationals–Elf,
Caltex,
and Shell—it becomes all the more important, not only to retain, but also to improve
our market share. Currently, we are increasing our refining capacity and making major
investments, over ten thousand crores in the next three years. We also have plans to set
up an additional refinery at Bhatinda. With all this, it becomes imperative that we gear
up to ensure that IT supports that kind of structure.

One of our major
initiatives this year was the computerization of LPG booking. In an in-house effort, we
have developed software for this. This software for LPG dealers takes customer bookings
across the country. It is multi-user and has IVR (Interactive Voice Response) features so
that a consumer can call in and make the bookings, as well as record complaints
automatically. In order to broadbase the use of this software, we devised the scheme for
purchase of hardware for the dealers. The software is provided free.

We have also started
computerizing our retail outlets. Here, we are looking not only at the back office, but at
the complete supply-chain management. We have also made major investments in the area of
communications. Today, we have a leased-line network across four metros. This network is
already operational and connects 17 HPCL offices. We are slowly ramping up our use of
e-mail. We already have about 800 e-mail accounts operational. At this stage there are
about 5,000 e-mails being sent across the corporation. We are using e-mail primarily to
improve response times and also to reduce the cost.

We are in the process of
putting up WAN using VSATs at over 250 locations. This will be used for video- and
audio-conferencing, besides normal telephony, fax and data. We are currently in the
process of evaluating the various ERP solutions. HPCL is also making major investments in
hardware. We have already placed the orders and acquired around 70 percent of over 1,700
PCs.

We had started a
Y2k-compliance project some time back. The project has already been completed and the roll
out of the new software has commenced. This will be operational across all HPCL offices
and outlets from April 1, 1999.

HPCL has developed an
in-house HR system, which is already operational at our headquarters, the western region
office, and at the Mumbai refinery. Since the system has been designed to be operational
even on a 286, it does not provide for a GUI. However, there are plans to upgrade to GUI
later. We have also developed a materials-management system, and are looking at
computerized maintenance-management systems for our refineries.

Besides the deployment of technology in
normal information areas, HPCL has also utilized technology in process-control systems.
HPCL is in the process of carrying out automation projects at major locations. We are also
making investments to improve filling, to protect products from adulteration and to ensure
proper delivery to our customers. As part of our social obligations, we have plans to
provide computers and conduct computer literacy programs in the rural areas. We plan to
use our old computers for this.

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