Sending MRO parts and tools outside the UK can be difficult, both in terms of logistics and compliance. But by working with a global supplier it’s possible to outsource the complexity

Any organisation with an international footprint needs to be aware of the complexities involved in sending goods across borders. In the case of MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) products and tools, there are a number of legislative and logistical hurdles that need to be negotiated before they can be shipped.
But why ship items when you could use local suppliers? “It comes down to quality, trust and consistency of service,” explains Lee Kilminster, Sales Director for International Sales and Partners at RS. “If a UK-based shipping firm’s vessel pulls into port in Cyprus and needs specific tools to carry out maintenance, they have the choice of trying to source those tools from a local supplier that they don’t know and don’t have a trusted relationship with, or they could use a global supplier such as RS, where they know they will get the right quality of equipment, delivered anywhere in the world in a fast, compliant way.
"A global supplier such as RS will get the right quality of equipment, delivered anywhere in the world in a fast, compliant way "Lee Kilminster, Sales Director, International Sales and Partners, RS
“Any company operating in more than one country will benefit from working with a global supplier,” he adds. “It negates the need for a large number of individual suppliers across a network, so the company can work with a small number of trusted suppliers that are capable of delivering products wherever they need them. This ensures both the quality and consistency of service.”
Removing risk from export
Having chosen to work with global suppliers, the next issue for a procurement team is how to choose the right one. There are a number of risks that need to be considered when shipping products across borders. “There are items classified as hazardous that need to be packaged and documented correctly,” says Kilminster. “That doesn’t necessarily mean toxic chemicals, it can apply to simple lithium batteries. At RS, our systems are designed to ensure that all batteries are packed securely in the right type of transport and that our team is qualified to complete all the appropriate documentation.”
Another key consideration is ensuring that products can be legally sent to specific locations – It’s vital to ensure that items are not supplied to countries that have sanctions or embargoes in place, or sent to anyone who appears on a denied parties list. Checks also need to be made around ‘dual use’ items that could potentially have a military use so that they are highlighted and are fully compliant with international and local laws.
The sheer volume of documentation and compliance required means that it is essential to partner with a global supplier that has the specialist knowledge needed to take on the task. “The issue our customers talk to us about the most is getting the right documentation,” says Kilminster. “They want to get the right support and advice to be able to ship goods overseas. In short, they want a supplier to take the pain away by handling the entire end-to-end process. At RS we receive an order from a customer, we ensure it is correctly packaged, that all products are compliant, that all documentation is in order and then deliver the items wherever they need to go.”
Expert training
The only way to ensure that all exports are fully compliant is to work with suppliers that train their employees appropriately so that they have an up to date knowledge of export laws. As Luke Allingham, Training Co-Ordinator at the Institute of Export & International Trade explains, this is something that RS makes a priority. “RS has used the Institute of Export & International Trade to provide a series of in-house training courses for staff,” he says. “The courses cover topics such as Managing for Export Success, Letters of Credit and International Customer Service. They have been tailored to the exact needs of RS and give staff a competitive advantage in the challenging and complex world of export, import and international trade.”
"Suppliers need logistical capability, combined with product range and compliance expertise, to ensure MRO products arrive when and where they are needed while ticking all legislative boxes "Lee Kilminster, Sales Director, International Sales and Partners, RS
Kilminster points out that this training has helped to improve the overall service his colleagues can offer customers. “A recent example is when an urgent order for some cables for an oil rig came in,” he recalls. “The export documentation was raised and the items were packed in less than two hours. The customer collected the package immediately and the products were flown out to the oil rig on a dedicated helicopter. This was all for £70 of cables, but the knock-on cost of production downtime made it worth it.
“We can deliver products anywhere in the world, from Iceland to the Falkland Islands, as long as there’s not an embargo in place,” adds Kilminster. “This is the sort of logistical capability, combined with product range and compliance expertise, that companies need to be looking for in suppliers to ensure their MRO products arrive when and where they want them while ticking all legislative boxes.”