Suppliers of the machines need to ensure they can offer a reliable service for new equipment, while their technical support teams need access to any necessary parts at a moment’s notice.
The importance of a supply chain specialist who understands time-critical deliveries and has an established network continually hitting tough service level agreements cannot be underestimated.
And an increasing number of vending and amusement machine firms in the UK are turning to ByBox, the market leading force in overnight parts distribution, to fill this role. It already counts some of the biggest names in the industry among its customers, including Bunzl Vending Services, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd, Cafe Bar, Selecta, and Gamestec.
In less than five years, Coventry-based ByBox has revolutionised the field, making more than two million deliveries a week, across a network of more than 18,000 secure dropboxes at over 1,300 locations around the country.
Since its inception, ByBox has specialised in examining the key and unique problems within the vending industry to produce solutions that reduce costs in every step of the supply chain process.
Indeed it is the company’s unique Thinventory™ system which has revolutionised supply chain efficiency in the UK, setting new standards for efficiency, reliability and stock transparency.
Thinventory™ is a single platform stock management system which integrates seamlessly with ByBox’s physical supply network, offering cohesive end-to-end reporting software to maximise stock visibility. This minimises the need for stock holding by managing each of the key stages in the supply chain process, raising purchase orders, goods in, pick, dispatch, delivery, return, repair, and return to good stock – all with serial number visibility.
The result is that it reduces the supply chain process, bringing even greater financial savings and increased productivity for customers needing a flexible solution to their rapid stock deployment needs.
“By having total visibility over the whole of the supply chain using Thinventory™, we can see things that traditional distribution systems would not.”
Stuart Miller continued: “We are hugely excited about the direction that ByBox is taking and the services we are now able to offer to clients in the vending and related amusement machine sector.
“Our proposition is simple – we work in tandem with our clients to understand their current supply chain. We aim to deliver solutions that maximise productivity and reduce unnecessary stock levels, bringing measurable benefits to the bottom line.
“Our success, initially with Bunzl, has led to a wealth of other similar clients coming on board and we are delighted to say that our levels of service cannot be matched and are continually raised to keep up with the demands in the fast-paced industry.
“As such, our business ethos and approach cannot be matched.”
Prior to working with ByBox, Bunzl Vending broadly operated a traditional supply chain where it bought equipment from its seven main suppliers of vending equipment, stored it in a warehouse and distributed the parts to mobile engineers via a standard next-day carrier, with engineers collecting the parts from the carrier’s depot.
When it came on board, ByBox developed a system where it collected directly from the manufacturers and delivered straight into dropboxes located close to the engineers’ homes. This has increased service levels for Bunzl, specifically improving the speed of fixing its customers’ machines.
The system required the development of an IT platform and operational processes capable of integrating Bunzl’s key suppliers directly into ByBox’s distribution network. The result was the birth of ByBox’s unique Thinventory platform, which was initially developed specifically for the vending sector. It has since been rolled out across other sectors and has been proven to be equally as efficient.
ByBox now collects directly from the vending manufacturers and suppliers and allows for intelligent routing of warranty returns directly back to the supplier. As a result of partnering with ByBox, Bunzl Vending has reduced the drive time and stockholding dramatically.
The challenges facing Gamestec, which uses a team of 275 mobile engineers to service and repair over 40,000 gaming and amusement machines installed at customer premises throughout the UK, are many and varied. But the model developed for the vending industry by ByBox has helped them quickly grow into a major force in the UK.
Previously, Gamestec’s engineers worked into 17 company depots, to which they travelled to collect parts to take to customer premises which was time consuming. After ByBox became involved, Gamestec was able to reduce the number of depots, instead, utilising four Regional Distribution Centres. It then consolidated all stock in the Leeds workshop with ByBox guaranteeing the parts got to engineers.
The benefits of this switch were felt almost immediately. The new system got parts to engineers faster and their travel time was reduced dramatically, making them far more productive. At the same time, Gamestec saved money by operating from fewer locations.
Several enhancements have already been made in the intervening months and more are planned. Gamestec’s engineers now carry consumable stock including items required by every engineer to perform their daily duties, which is replenished weekly, and an ‘essential spares’ kit to increase the opportunity for a ‘first time fix’; a key part of the company’s service strategy.
“Working with ByBox has enabled us to revolutionise our supply chain efficiency. The system improves the way our engineers work greatly and has added a new layer of flexibility to our operations,” said Gamestec Inventory Manager Chris Carr.
While ByBox has helped these two firms grow into major forces, when Coca Cola signed up in 2006, it was already the biggest brand in the world. However, the biggest brand needs the best support to keep it there and a reliable supply chain solution is essential.
It wanted a company that could deliver parts to its field service engineers as quickly and efficiently as possible. As well as improving the distribution of parts to more than 250 Coca Cola field engineers nationwide, since then, ByBox is now providing a solution that radically improves the return loop of broken parts to suppliers. The new return system also means that Coca Cola is benefiting from warranties it was previously missing out on – and so is saving money in the process.
In a pilot run in one of its five regions – Central, which includes 60 engineers covering areas including Milton Keynes, Luton and Birmingham – Coca Cola enjoyed stunning success. It received three times as many warranty credits than previously. Now the company has rolled out the scheme nationally.
Susanna Clarke, Dispensed Operations Manager for Coca Cola Enterprises, said: “The returns system has already been hugely beneficial for us. We would not have done it without ByBox. In fact, we would not even have thought about it to be honest.”
The range of services offered by ByBox under the Thinventory™ platform have continued to evolve with the objective of providing a complete delivery solution to fit a customer’s unique needs. With the introduction of additional services such as Tech Courier, Pre-10 and an expanded service in Ireland, clients can now tailor specific tasks to individual delivery situations, further streamlining the process.
Stuart Miller added: “We can do more than deliver parts into the field. We work very closely with clients and customise our service to meet their needs.
“We continually evaluate our offering to them, and innovate our services, so that we can continue to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.
“Our latest range of services are a clear demonstration of this.”
The company already has 70 per cent of the market for delivering items for companies that have large teams of field engineers. It has customers that include Coca Cola, Fujitsu, Unisys, KonicaMinolta, Computacenter, Ricoh, GlaxoSmithkline, Siemens Energy, telent and Cable & Wireless.