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Nationwide roll-out of changes in the LPG accounting and distribution system was announced by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on 14th of September, 2012. A serious challenge was thrown to the IT team of Indian Oil by changing the entire architecture from distributed to centralized, covering 6500 distributors (approx) across India. The architecture, modalities and changed business logic were to be redefined and implemented in two months which was earlier estimated to be an effort of two years.
The answer to curbing diversion of subsidized LPG and other irregularities was to invest in the right technology to identify the source and then putting in place business rules and processes resulting in prompt enforcement. The solution used was a data integration product -`Informatica PowerCenter Real Time Edition' with an in-house developed Java-based application.
INDSOFT was initially developed on a distributed architecture wherein each distributor premises were designed to have a locally stored database which is accessible through a front-end application. The software was also designed to generate an end-of-the-day file to be automatically transmitted to a central server hosted by IOC. The files accumulated at the central server from various distributor sites were used for generation of various periodical reports and monitoring. This solution had several limitations and shortcomings, however. Information was not available in the central system in real-time. The system only allowed retrospective detection of irregularities or malpractices. For example, detection of diversion of a domestic connection to a commercial establishment could only be determined on a post-facto analysis of the distributor's operations. The local database is owned by the distributor and prone to tamper, misuse of data. There was no support for encryption. Auto-deployment of new software versions were not possible and therefore it was difficult to prevent manipulations at remote end.
The management at IOCL was not getting an accurate picture of the sales that were happening at distributor sites in a timely fashion. There were rampant malpractices such as diversion of subsidized LPG and manipulation of sales figures. The challenge that Indian Oil faced was that the subsidy was meant to be provided via their distributor network, whose overall size being 6500 spread across the country, was pretty complex, with almost 60% of them based in remote locations with bad connectivity (dial-up connections) & having a standalone software which was vulnerable to intended or unintended alternation of data and frequent corruption of the local database. It was also important to ensure that no duplicates arise.
What was deployed: A centralised architecture was set up with the help of Informatica PowerCenter Real Time Edition and an in-house Java-based front-end was developed for the client end.
After deployment: The move from distributed to centralized reduced the implementation cost to one third of what was estimated and because of getting accurate and complete sales data in real-time, an enormous amount of savings took place. The transaction time has reduced from 48 hours to less than 2 hours and the deviation of LPG consumption is down to 10%. This has also led to a centralized platform for Aadhar-based subsidy.
Implementation partner: In-house project