What you should look for when choosing a logistics company to support your field service operation

Mar 18, 2014 • FeaturesBDAParts Pricing and Logistics

Alison Brindley, Operations Director of Bespoke Distribution Aviation, outlines what we should be demanding from our logistics partners to ensure field service divisions run smoothly...

In increasingly competitive markets, businesses that supply and fit parts as part of their service contracts have had to up their game and the successful ones are achieving this and reducing cost, whilst adding value to their customer proposition by paying particular attention to their aftersales service.

As part of the aftersales process, field service engineers need to make sure that they have all the tools and spares parts they need to respond when a customer needs them. Operating a lean supply chain can add value to your business with a logistics partnership and keep field service operations efficient by ensuring reduced inventory levels and stock holding. The dynamics of the delivery requirements within the supply chain range from a requirement to move freight quickly in the case of urgent requirements for immediate repair, and not so quickly for slower moving stock for regular services. The challenge is to streamline the supply chain into a simpler process while continuing to provide customers with a simple and efficient next day delivery. Moving the outline of your supply chain to a multi level, more dynamic solution, which utilises air and road express movements can achieve a slicker supply chain needed to make field service engineers more responsive.

Give your field service engineers greater flexibility

A streamlined supply chain supports field service operations at all times and ensures engineers are equipped with the spare parts they need to complete repairs to your customer’s service levels. Make sure when selecting a logistics company that they offer a flexible and rapid service, the best levels of IT reporting and inclusive client support.  One way of achieving this is through In-Night, same day delivery of parts, which ensures that spares are readily available from point of order through to final mile delivery in the shortest time frame possible.  Whether your main supply comes from a European Distribution Centre (EDC) or from a local regional parts centre, supply chain management is key to final mile delivery and therefore a successful Service Level to your customer.

Eliminate the need for multiple regional warehouses

A streamlined supply chain that connects mainland Europe into the UK and Ireland, provide early morning deliveries into service engineers and dealerships pre7 and reduce levels of inventory, provides an improved first time pick rate and speeds up the delivery of spare parts. Faster in-night air movement and bespoke ‘final mile’ solution means that they can access spares early morning the very next day giving a greater number of daily engineer fixes, improving Service Level Agreements and delivering benefits to your customer’s clients.

Think about reverse logistics and spare part returns

A company that offers a streamlined reverse logistics and returns solution can provide additional value for field service operations. The priority for field service engineers is having the repair made before considering a quick return. A reverse logistics service delivered as part of the wider supply chain delivery ensures that field service engineers have their repair made quickly on site, before returning the defect part back through the supply chain in the opposite direction. For customers who have an issue after the repair has been made where a resolve is required due to a warranty defect, your field service team will want to organise for the defect product to be shipped back to the manufacturer under warranty, tested, dismantled and repaired or recycled. By having the repair made first as part of a reverse logistics service, engineers save valuable time out in the field. Closing the returns loop, the return of spare parts is achieved whether under warranty or just as part of the recycling of parts, is as much a feature of a good supply chain management as the initial delivery.

Transparency of the supply chain enhances customer communication

After sales service managers need to be confident that spare parts will be with their field engineers when they need them. They require complete visibility of the supply chain and a strong communication from the logistics company, so they can be frequently updated as soon as the next status of their shipment is available. By having access to this information platform, and a pro-active customer service in the logistics company, they can maintain effective communication with the customer, keeping them up-to-date during every part of the service process. The ability to communicate with confidence makes all the difference to your customer’s perception of your business.

Getting the geographical coverage you need

Working in partnership with a good supply chain provider that can provide a strong geographical delivery presence is key to reducing inventory costs and yet still provides you with quick and easy access to spares.  A supply chain provider that has strategically positioned operating gateways across a broad area, and that enables you to benefit from both air freight and road express services, delivers a seamless distribution service straight into the field.

There are a lot of tools available to help make field service operations more streamlined, responsive and effective. The industry is benefitting from new mobile technology all the time but often the greatest advantage to a business operating in the field service arena is getting the right level of a lean supply chain. Complete visibility throughout the supply chain and same day, final mile delivery of spares are key to responsive field service and satisfied, happy customers.