The topic of last mile service delivery can be a complex nut to crack. However, one company who has been at the vanguard of doing so for more than 20 years is ByBox. The company provides overnight delivery of spares to a network of smart lockers, making the last mile both cost-efficient and effective. To find out more Kris Oldland spoke with Richard Agostinelli, their newly appointed CEO...
KO: Just how significant is the cost, to a field service operation, of getting parts available within the last mile of the service delivery cycle?
RA: It’s extremely significant, our customers have demanding SLAs that have , in turn, been imposed by their customers. Often with
hundreds of engineers in the field, getting the right part, to the right engineer at the right time is critical.
Some studies that we’ve come across, show that the last mile could account for over 40% of the customer’s total transportation costs. This is principally down to the small size of the deliveries and the need for quick fulfilment.
"We deliver the required spares to fixed locker locations, and we do it through the night, which is significantly less expensive than same day..."
Partly owing to this, we’re finding that companies within the field service sector are spending a significant amount of time and money on technology improvements; streamlining engineer scheduling, job assignments and routing etc. But, at the end of the day if the part doesn’t get where it needs to be, when and where the engineer is expecting it, then all that is for nothing.
This is where we live; this is the focus for ByBox.
We deliver the required spares to fixed locker locations, and we do it through the night, which is significantly less expensive than same day.
We also provide a returns loop for the engineer to offload the defective parts that they have collected. Meaning that they don’t sit for days, weeks or even months in the back of a van; all the while, providing real-time inventory information through our App and conditional coding so our customers can direct the return part to the right location. With our hit rate of successful last mile deliveries, engineers are able to improve the mean time to repair and complete more jobs in their day.
Improving last mile delivery, offers very significant cost savings to field service organisations, while also coming with a range of additional benefits.
KO: Inner-city congestion is a significant factor in the increasing challenge of successful last mile service delivery – how can this be overcome?
RA: ByBox has been working on this problem for over 20 years, ultimately, we’ve found that delivering overnight when the roads are less congested is the best answer. During the day is becoming increasingly difficult, and the challenges seem to be escalating.
Using our extensive locker network, we deliver through the night. With our pre-8am promise, the part is ready for collection before the engineer’s day even starts. Accessible 24/7/365, engineers don’t have to wait in traffic or in queues at PUDOs and they can pick up multiple parts on route.
"We believe that through the night delivery is critical to help to ease inner-city congestion and allowing our customers to overcome the issues of last mile delivery..."
Also, as I mentioned at the same time as we drop off the parts needed, we’re picking up the defective parts, thus keeping both directions of the parts supply chain moving as efficiently as possible. For us, we believe that through the night delivery is critical to help to ease inner-city congestion and allowing our customers to overcome the issues of last mile delivery.
KO: There has been an interesting discussion arising around last mile vs. final hour – could you expand on that a bit for us?
RA: The world just keeps getting faster.
Our customers are relentlessly focussing on improved customer service, and so are we. In the last mile vs. final hour concept, we are working to receive orders later and later in the day, and still offer repair service the following day.
To do that we need to continuously add technology enhancements that enable us to process orders later, working more in conjunction with how our customers, and their customers’ day operates. And, at the same time, still be able to deliver pre-8am!
It’s all about connectivity, real-time reporting, and being able to transmit that data to the operation. Creating a solution that means we can turn orders around quickly – whether it’s from one of our hubs or direct from the customers’ own supplier, and schedule deliveries to a locker with the latest cut-off possible and maximising the final hour.
KO: With environmental factors beginning to dominate both regulatory measures and also to an increasing degree, consumer purchasing decisions. Is last mile optimisation positioned to offer field service companies a boost in achieving green efficiency targets?
RA: By delivering through the night, our drivers are spending much less time burning fuel. We also optimise our routes, so that vans are loaded in sequence and across the most efficient route possible.
As we have over 27,000 lockers across the UK, our customers’ engineers travel 5.1 miles on average to a locker. In addition, due to the high fill rate of our lockers, they can collect all of their day’s work assignments on route to their first job and in one go.
All of this can help service companies achieve green efficiency targets, and we are very excited about the possibility of helping with such initiatives.