Boxing clever

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Left to right: Dan Turner, CEO of ByBox Networks, and Steve Huxter, chief technical officer of ByBox Field Support

Why has it become necessary to make the appointments at this time?

Dan: For Networks, the amount of business we’ve been winning recently has been considerable, not just in the UK and Europe, but also in North America. Having that much business in those areas requires that much more time, dedication and energy to deal with it.

Steve: On the Field Support side, people are constantly trying to improve their service levels for less money. We’ve got more business because the only way to do that is through smart technology. Our unique selling point is that we pride ourselves on being the experts in matching parts with engineers and jobs in the most efficient way, enabling clients to save costs and deliver exacting service levels. That is where we have built our reputation in recent years.

Some of the technology that we are currently developing will take this to another level. A good example is an app that we’re developing for engineers to use on their smart devices that will enable them to notify us, and their company, when they are returning parts and what condition they are in. It might be a good part that they have not used, a part that needs repairing, or it might be waste. Once we receive the notification then we can do something clever with it. If it’s a good part then we can reuse it without ordering another from the supplier. This clearly saves on distribution and inventory costs, and enables us to deliver it faster.

What impact has the increase in demand had on the business?

Dan: We’re using technology to help our people do more. We’re now supporting global operations 24/7 and busy building organizational and commercial relationships outside our core European market.

Steve: The increase in demand has brought some good surprises our way. On the Field Support side we have had people coming to us from Europe asking if they can license our technology. They are distribution companies themselves but they realize that to stay in touch with the market and be competitive, they need great technology that they cannot develop themselves – so they want to use ours.

Dan: We’re getting demand from some of the areas that you would think would be leading the market. Businesses in places like Japan, China and Hong Kong are coming to us to ask about technology and licensing opportunities. It’s great to have an example like this, where British companies are truly leading the world.

Where are you seeing the most growth?

Dan: Geographically we’re seeing massive growth at the moment in North America. In terms of the segments in that market, we’re seeing retail as a key area for us, and also the provision of click-and-collect services and the campus market. That could be a corporate campus wanting a locker for mail delivery or it could be a college campus. One of our biggest customers is a college on the East Coast that has several thousand of our lockers and uses them to distribute mail and parcels every day. To give you an idea of the scale of these operations, in one week before Christmas over 35,000 packages were distributed through lockers on one college campus in the USA.

How compatible are ByBox’s systems with carriers in other countries?

Dan: We provide a flexible software system with the lockers that enables our customers to get deliveries of whatever they want from whoever they want. That level of flexibility is key. Our technology is frequently integrated with third-party mailroom systems on, say, a corporate or campus location, and of course they receive parcels from multiple carriers. The ByBox locker software is sophisticated enough to handle the various barcodes without requiring any carrier to be individually integrated.

What has been one of ByBox’s greatest achievements in recent years?

Dan: On the Networks side, one of the things we’re most proud of is the development of the temperature-controlled locker. We have put a lot of effort into the project, along with our partners, and we are now leading the way in that field. You can already see some of these lockers being rolled out in the UK with retailers and we’re hoping to continue driving that market forward.

What are ByBox’s plans for the future?

Steve: What we look at all the time is optimizing the loop between getting the right part for the right engineer for the right job, and doing that with less inventory while meeting the service levels that are required. People have been talking for a long time about virtual warehousing and that is what we are aiming to implement in the next year or so. All the stock that is in our supply chain is effectively in a virtual warehouse, so we can make quick decisions about what to do with it. This hastens repair loops and makes the whole system more efficient. That is already the model for some of the large blue-chip companies we work with and is something our other clients will probably seek to emulate in time.

The goal is to do away with warehousing completely, to be able to pick up stock when you need it and deliver it all in one loop, but of course the real world isn’t like that. What we can do is provide some short-term warehouse facilities if needed for certain types of customers. Either way, it reduces what is for them at the moment an expensive business. Some of our customers have saved millions from their inventory holding while improving their service levels.

Interview by Daniel Symonds

April 2, 2015

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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