When it comes to working with MRO suppliers, partnering with a company that has global reach brings critical advantages
“Our mission is to have the best supply chain in our industry – we want to be flexible and responsive to our customer needs.” These are the words of RS’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Mikael Malm, who has the daunting task of overseeing the safe delivery of a catalogue boasting well over 500,000 products to more than 1 million customers, many of whom are looking for urgent parts to keep their operations running smoothly.
"Our mission is to have the best supply chain in our industry "Mikael Malm, Chief Supply Chain Officer, RS
Part of RS’s strength as an MRO supplier, says Malm, is the fact that RS is a truly global supplier with operations in 32 countries where they ship around 50,000 parcels a day. According to Malm being a global supplier offers three main benefits for customers:
1) Range of products
“RS has a really wide range of products that we have access to thanks to our global network,” says Malm. “It doesn’t matter if your business is based in the UK, France, Japan or somewhere else – you can access a catalogue of products and order the parts you need.
“We also have the ability to constantly take on new products, which is something that happens a great deal in RS,” Malm adds. “Whenever new products come online, we quickly work out the most efficient way to handle them and distribute them effectively to the market so that customers get a smooth service.”
“The second element to having a huge range of product options available is the capability to move them anywhere that our customers need them,” explains Malm. “We have the global logistics in place to deliver items to almost any location quickly, which can be crucial since in some cases the parts will be critical to the customer’s operations.”
“Finally, the fact that RS has such a wide network all working to the same standards means that customers can expect a consistency of service wherever they are based,” says Malm. “So a UK-headquartered oil and gas company might order parts for its Russian or Middle East operation, and RS can provide the products they need with the same standard of customer care the company would receive if they had ordered the products to be delivered to the UK.
"The fact that RS has a global network all working to the same standards means that customers can expect a consistency of service wherever they are based "Mikael Malm, Chief Supply Chain Officer, RS
“Put simply, a customer doesn’t care where a product has come from or what goes on behind the scenes,” he adds. “They want a seamless service where the right quality of product arrives where it is needed in the time they have been promised. This overall seamless supply chain is what we are striving for and we believe that it offers a lot of value for our customers.
Not surprisingly, operating a supply chain on the scale of RS’s efficiently, isn’t an easy task. “There are potential issues whenever you hand a package over to the carrier that provides the last mile delivery to the customer,” says Malm. “So it’s up to us to come up with ways where we can exert more control over those situations and decrease the chance of anything going wrong.”
In order to achieve this, RS is constantly looking at technology to help improve the way they operate. “We’re keen to innovate so that we stay ahead of rivals and solve customer issues before they become a problem,” says Malm. “We are always looking at new technology and new processes with our carriers to help make them more efficient. This can be better logistics technology that finds the fastest routes, or it could be more fuel-efficient transport that costs less and is better for the environment, making the cost cheaper for a customer.
“We’re also looking at moving towards omnichannel logistics where we will be able to let customers actually choose what mode of transport their products will be delivered by,” he adds. “For customers that have strict sustainability targets, they may choose a lower-emission option for products that aren’t needed urgently.”
All of this, Malm explains, is part of what he refers to as RS’s ‘digital supply chain’. In essence, this digital supply chain refers to the mountains of big data that RS collects around its distribution channels looking at all inbound and outbound deliveries. This data is then analysed to produce a sophisticated risk management system. “In practice,” says Malm. “It means if there was a strike in the Channel Tunnel, we can quickly change carrier methods in our warehouse before products have left and predict the overall impact this would have on the delivery time.
“This data gives customers the ability to fully track and trace their items using live information,” he says. “If there are problems, the one thing customers want is transparency, which we are able to offer through the technology we have in place.”