Courting the channel: Stuart Burke, HyTech Logistics
10 December 2015 | 0
If everyone decided to stop their journey a mile before their destination, they’d never get anywhere. And yet, that’s precisely what so many vendors, distributors and resellers are prepared to do when it comes to delivering and installing equipment to their customers by entrusting the last mile of their delivery to a third party (or several third parties).
Recent research by Edward Sweeney, professor of logistics and head of the Engineering Systems and Management Group at Aston University in the UK, reveals that “a lot of supply chains are pretty robust until they get to this point but they collapse when it comes to the last part”.
“Vendors, distributors or resellers don’t want their expensive highly trained engineers spending their valuable time working on setting up printers. That doesn’t justify their value and expense”
It doesn’t matter how expensive the technology is, it’s of zero value until it is installed and up and running. “So if the last bit of the delivery process falls down and there is a problem, the whole chain falls down,” Sweeney says. “All the time and effort that goes into pursuing excellence elsewhere in the chain is meaningless. The last mile of the chain has been historically undervalued – it’s seen as the poor relation in the supply chain, but really it’s highly important.”
Last mile issue
No wonder Hytech Logistics has decided to focus so strongly on last mile delivery. “When we set up Hytech Logistics in 2000 with a vision of creating a world class technical distribution service provider, we were very conscious of that last mile issue,” says managing director Stuart Burke.
In the past, delivery was frequently to the back door of the office and a porter or maintenance man would do the last bit. Today, companies want their equipment in place and ready to use. “That’s the last link in the chain and it decides whether it was a good experience or not,” Burke observes.
The company has sought to address the issue by developing a consistent and standardised methodology for last mile delivery – deliver, offload and position system (DOPsys) – which covers every element of the last mile, from site surveys and planning to manual and machine handling, health and safety procedures, and even appropriate insurance to overall project management for more complex contracts.
The UK Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport has endorsed the methodology. Steve Agg, chief executive for the Institute, describes DOPsys as “a system which aims to provide a high-quality delivery system and customer service programme and which gives everyone involved with it absolute confidence that things will be carried out to a reliable and high set of standards”.
Now, Hytech Logistics is building on the foundations of DOPsys to offer a last mile service that complements IT vendors, distributors and resellers. The company launched the first phase of this service at TechTrade in October, announcing a printer deployment service that could handle all aspects of the delivery from importing equipment, warehousing, configuration, delivery, positioning and installation (as well as removal and recycling of legacy equipment and packaging). The company is already in discussions with some of the largest printer vendors about the service.
Servers and PCs
Burke reveals that Hytech Logistics is planning to extend the service to servers and PCs in the near future. He says it has already been approached by a client interested in using the service for servers and for a combination of PCs and printers.
The company has provided a similar service successfully for UPS products for 10 years, delivering products that could be worth as much as €400,000 to data centres. “We’ve already proved we can do it at the high end,” he comments. “Now we want to do it for more high-volume products.”
Burke argues the last mile service provided by Hytech will simplify the process for vendors, distributors and resellers that typically had to deal with several parties to ensure the successful delivery and installation of equipment into a customer’s premises. Ensuring that all of those elements being provided by external businesses and internal staff work together seamlessly is not as easy as it appears.
David Laird, chief executive officer of The Project Foundry, says a typical installation might have required someone to deliver the boxes, an engineer to install them and possibly a third technician to connect them to the network and troubleshoot any technical problems. With Hytech Logistics’ service, “a job that used to take up to three people can now be done by one person. In addition, that one person will have been properly trained in how to do it which means the distributor sending that one guy out isn’t wasting the time of more skilled and higher value technical staff.”
Burke agrees that using Hytech Logistics’ technicians allows IT vendors, distributors and resellers to deploy their engineers to jobs that are more commensurate with their skills and value. “Our service is seamless and cost-effective,” Burke argues. “Vendors, distributors or resellers don’t want their expensive highly trained engineers spending their valuable time working on setting up printers. That doesn’t justify their value and expense. Using our printer technicians instead is far more cost-effective.” The Hytech service is also product and brand neutral, so technicians can install printers from different (and competing) vendors into the same office block if required.
While large scale deployments can be tricky for resellers, Burke believes Hytech Logistics can address their concerns.”A lot of money is lost by companies because they are not managing that aspect of large scale deployment properly but we have the logistics and skill sets to ensure roll outs are managed effectively. We can manage the whole thing and pull everything together to come up with the most cost-effective solution,” he says.
Burke describes Hytech Logistics as “taking a step up the value chain to alleviate distributors from some of their responsibilities. But he stresses the company will never compete with distributors. “We’re not a distributor,” he states. “We never own the product and we never buy the product. We’re product neutral and we’re a neutral provider. We’ve been in the UPS last mile delivery space for the last 10 years and a lot of our clients are competitors to each other but we manage it because we’re independent.”
He concludes that vendors, distributors and resellers can rest assured that whatever project they embark on, Hytech Logistics will have the last mile covered.