In The Face Of Uncertainty, Preparation Is The Key To Post-Brexit Supply Chain Resilience

Mar 14, 2019 • FeaturesBrexitmanagementbyboxStrategySimon Fahie

Brexit fatigue’ may be sweeping across the European continent but for those of us involved in critical supply chains, now is not the time to put our heads in the sand. The network nature of international supply chains means we may all be reliant on the least-prepared organisation, as ByBox’s Simon Fahie, explains. 

There’s no escaping the fact that field service can be a lonely industry. Ask the engineer battling torrential rain to repair a wind turbine. Or the manager greeted with blank stares at dinner parties when asked to explain his job. With mobile engineering teams working in often remote locations, and a high number of lone workers, it can feel like there are limited opportunities for collaboration within field service.

But with Brexit around the corner, now is the time when field service operators must work together – not just to avoid problems, but also to get ahead. While the UK political climate remains highly uncertain, ByBox has shared practical tips with customers to help prepare for the ‘worst case scenario’ - No Deal.

A ‘Hard Brexit’ could mean that businesses which currently move parts freely within the EU, including the UK, will find themselves becoming importers and exporters between the UK and the EU.

An obvious statement perhaps, but several of the companies we have been working with will find it a shock to implement not only the existing rules, but also additional new procedures to manage No Deal.

And herein lies the real rub - under new customs rules, if one company fails to comply, it could cause delays to the stock of all businesses within the same consignment.  The smartest businesses recognise that ‘one issue affects all’ within Field Service; and that by and large they do not compete supply chain against supply chain.


"Advanced businesses view Brexit as an opportunity to take stock and think about how they can add value..."

By preparing for new import and export rules now they’re protecting not only their own businesses, but the resilience of the whole field service sector. Advanced businesses also view Brexit as an opportunity to take stock and think about how they can add value after Brexit and get ahead in a new trading environment.

The most common themes are:

Use of technology
An increasing number of  firms are looking to digitise processes around distribution, engineer productivity and inventory. With ever-more stringent SLAs and cost pressures, there just isn’t room for inefficiencies or delays in responding to disruptions

Increased forward stocking
In some industries where the potential consequences of delays are not acceptable, EG medical technology, we’ve seen an increase in firms using micro Forward Stock Locations (FSLs) – placing critical items in App-Lockers at the service sites where they’re needed, to protect first-time fix rates

Third party specialists
Many companies are turning to third parties to manage complexities around cross border transport and distribution. For example, our strategic partners such as Bespoke Distribution Aviation (BDA) – already have established transport channels, a customs clearance approach and brokers.

Two years on, it’s easy to experience ‘Brexit fatigue’ – but the burden can be significantly reduced if field service companies realise they’re not alone, and help each other through it.

Simon Fahie is Managing Director at ByBox.