Driving efficiency in the telecoms industry

02 December 2014 | Jon Magson

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Jon Magson

Blog Author | ByBox; Business development director


The telecommunications industry has evolved with such gusto in the past few years that some businesses operating in the sector have buckled under the pressure and pace of demand.

The telecommunications industry has evolved with such gusto in the past few years that some businesses operating in the sector have buckled under the pressure and pace of demand.

Blackberry is a good example, having previously experienced a network outage in 2011 which spanned three days. This was an eye-opening event to consumers and the industry, exposing them for the first time to the real strain that telecoms businesses are under, trying to keep up with the demands placed on them by their customers.

Telecoms providers now need to offer services such as 4G to handle the explosion in data traffic and need the ability to quickly swap faulty or broken handsets and equipment at a rapid pace, to name just two of a multitude of demands. The inability to service these needs has cost Blackberry – as well as other telecoms providers – in brand value and revenue.

In order for these businesses to run a service that can cope with these demands whilst maintaining their own brand image, they need to look at ways to become more efficient. Rather than changing the entire business set-up, a shift in the supply chain management of these companies is a very realistic yet effective way to drive change – keeping networks up and running whilst also dealing with downtime, ensuring minimal brand damage from poor service. Blackberry CEO Jon Chen believes he can make the company profitable once more by 2016 – a large part of this will hinge on whether the business can maintain an effective supply chain to keep its network operating smoothly.

A key element of this is supply chain management. Telecoms businesses can’t just clock off at the weekend or stop operating on Christmas day. They need to find a logistics provider that is responsive to their needs, enabling them to get parts from manufacturers to warehouses to engineers promptly, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Once a significant issue, some telecoms businesses are now implementing smart logistics services to remedy this.

Utilising a country-wide network of drop boxes through which tools and parts can be delivered and tracked from dispatch to delivery and returns is an effective way to tackle the issue. Such systems reduce travel time by delivering to drop box locations pre-8am, from which an engineer can then pick up expensive parts to undertake their next job.

Not only does this save on fuel and time costs for delivery, but with winter approaching it means that engineers at companies such as Blackberry can collect parts early and fit more jobs into their day; making the most of the daylight to fix masts and telecoms networks and helping to ensure that mobile blackouts do not continue in the future.

This model can be further developed by having a number of forward stock locations (FSLs) in place, stocked with regularly-used items – such as the all-important network cards – to allow critical service issues to be dealt with quickly. Such a network of service locations can then be managed electronically to ensure this style of system is working at its best.

Not only would engineers benefit from the proximity of parts to their workplace, but they could treat these FSLs as mini depots, repairing and replacing broken parts on location rather than processing up through the entire supply chain and thereby losing time.

Allowing parts to be returned and tracked effectively from warehouse door to drop box pick-up, as well as offering technical services such in-warehouse repair, returns and recycling services provides a complete solution to engineers, and is something that should be of paramount importance to all logistics providers. The ability to track and trace every single component sent out and returned, as well as having the technology in place to assist engineers with roll outs and replenishments, is key to implementing a truly effective delivery process, not to mention allowing for huge savings and efficiencies to be made.

Logistics companies have the chance to offer an unparalleled service to businesses operating in the telecoms industry. Through driving efficiency and traceability, as well as offering advanced technical services, telecoms businesses will be able to operate at their highest potential so that they can effectively meet the ever-growing demands of the modern customer.