It is well documented that British companies involved in the sales and distribution of products are facing an up hill battle against rising fuel prices and stiff competition. However, one Doncaster-based company is fighting back with something very different, an invisible workforce.
Like most movement-dependant companies, SEL Imperial are always looking to make operational savings in what is an extremely competitive industry but not all companies can afford the luxury of a cheaper fuel, especially when the business is based solely in the United Kingdom. So for SEL Imperial, competition is fierce.
Yet, aside from these uncontrollable factors, SEL Imperial are fighting back by automating the physical jobs of their employees. Michael Bourne, IT Director for SEL Imperial explained, We recognised that our marketplace was only going to become more competitive and that variables such as fuel and competitor movements were out of our control. From our perspective, these trends along with others needed counter-balancing before they had a significant impact on our competitive standing.
The knee-jerk reaction for most product-movement based companies is to look for further savings on the distribution side of the business but SEL Imperial saw the limited scope that this approach offered. Instead, they opted to analyse and question the very way they conducted their business. Michael expanded on this, It was becoming increasingly apparent that we required a solution that could eradicate the mountain of administration that is often associated with our area of business. We needed to be in a position were we could fulfil orders quicker and with less employee involvement. Given that this was an internal change and the natural suspicion that this may cause within the minds of our employees we saw the advantages in commissioning the work to an external Professional Services Firm, namely Orlando TSG.
Leading the Orlando TSG consultation was Andrew Wyld. As the companys leading business process analysts, it was Andrews remit to reduce the operational costs of SEL Imperial and identify other avenues in which the company could reinvigorate their competitive standing. In the case of SEL Imperial, it was apparent that company growth had resulted in their back office becoming heavy and bureaucratic and as a result they were absorbing costs that could be easily eradicated.
Primarily, it was the adherence to obsolete administrative processes and job repetition that was detracting from what was a very robust and profitable business model.
Following the consultancy process, Orlando TSG delivered their recommendations to the SEL Imperial board in the shape of a new breed of technology called Orbis TaskCentre, claiming that this technology could automate many of the physical activities of their employees.
After agreement had been made as to what areas of the business would benefit from the initial deployment, Orlando TSG began automating human activities such as the physical monitoring of van loads so that each vehicle achieves maximum profitability, the credit control system, stock control, part ordering procedures and the production of management reports detailing company performance and trends.
To date, SEL-Imperial have significantly reduced operational cost and increased management productivity by around 20% through automating the activities of their employees. This is something that Philip Smith, Managing Director for Orbis Software, sees as a typical return for the average movement-based company, SEL Imperial are just like any other transport-based company in so far as that they need to maximise the efficiency of their labour. Its still the norm for companies to employ members of staff to carry out credit control, stock management and report generation activities but, with the automation capabilities of Orbis TaskCentre, these manual processes are no longer necessary.
He added, Automation technology is the next logical step for businesses and the aftermarket panels and lamps industry is just one example of how any industry can take advantage of our cutting edge technology.