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Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods
Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods
Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods
Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods

Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 30 October 2013

Making sure that UK customers’ manufacturing operations and production schedules are not disrupted by cutting tool unavailability or their late delivery is the everyday Number One priority for Shirley Dainty, Seco’s Operations Manager, and her team.

With over 35,000 standard products and hundreds of custom-designed/custom manufactured tooling solutions available from Seco - this might, to some, seem like a tall order.

But, through the collaborative efforts of the UK logistics team (based in Alcester) working in conjunction with Seco’s international network of manufacturing operations (which includes its UK-based Custom Tool facility) and its Belgium-based European Distribution Centre (EDC), customers can be confident that their orders, no matter how big or small, will receive preferential treatment.

In this article UK Operations Manager Shirley Dainty sheds light on how Seco’s logistics operation delivers the goods.

'We are a vital part of our customers’ supply chains,' explains Shirley.

'Irrespective of whether a customer is a large, blue-chip OEM or a small, precision manufacturing subcontractor – our promise to them is the same... and that’s to do everything in our power to ensure that their orders will be with them in time...on time...every time.

'Our logistics operation is sophisticated and is well-resourced. Its success relies heavily on teamwork and effective communication at all levels – and nowhere is this more evident than how we get our standard tooling products to customers'.

Standard products

Seco standard products (i.e. off-the-shelf cutting tools, inserts etc,) are not stocked in the UK per se but are instead distributed from Seco’s European Distribution Centre in Houthalen, Belgium - one of three global distribution hubs Seco has established around the world.

However, it’s not just a matter of the UK (or any other European sales subsidiary for that matter) sending customer orders for standard products through to EDC hoping that they can be processed.

It’s far more sophisticated than that.

Continues Shirley: 'We have procedures and processes in place to help gauge customer demand for our products.

'All of our European sales operations liaise with customers (and distributor networks) on an individual basis to understand their future tooling requirements.

'Here in the UK these discussions help us create standard product forecasts which, as well as identifying specific Seco tooling products that customers require, also establishes (per customer) anticipated volumes, order frequency and preferred method of supply etc.

'The information is funnelled into and is then collated by the Logistics Team and we, in turn, send it through to our Head Office in Sweden where it is used to plan all aspects of standard tooling manufacture (e.g. raw material ordering and purchasing; manufacturing capacity analysis and production scheduling etc).

'It’s our way of making sure that supply correlates with demand...and vice-versa.

'Although we appreciate that forecasting is not an exact science – it is a start. And it does give an indication of the types of tooling products that need to be manufactured (and stocked) in the future for customers in the UK.'

Having been manufactured, standard products are then stocked at EDC - ready for dispatch.

European Distribution Centre

Commenting on the EDC resource, Shirley explains:

'Having the EDC facility (literally) on our doorstep means that we don’t need or have to hold standard tools in stock here in the UK.

'And because we use proven and efficient distribution methods (e.g. order processing, warehousing, automated picking systems, packaging and labelling, international freight carriers etc.), – we can (in most cases) guarantee next day delivery of standard products to our customers.'

Custom Tools

With custom tools the situation is different – although similar principles apply.

Custom tools, as the name suggests, are be-spoke (customer-specific) tooling solutions that have been designed and developed by Seco engineers (many of who are employed here in the UK) working in partnership with individual customers.

The Devil is in the detail

Whether it’s standard tools or custom tools order processing, tracking and checking the status of orders, and anticipating future demand are constant, daily activities for the Logistics Team, and follow robust ‘best-practice’ procedures.

Making sure that standard products have left EDC on time without breakages or picking errors is often the first activity of the day – and this is where the Logistics Team’s diligence, attention to detail and proactive approach is required.

Explains Shirley Dainty: 'Where possible, when it comes to fulfilling orders we act as the eyes and ears of our customers and do everything we can to alert them in advance to any changes that could affect delivery schedules.'

It’s not all about checking whether orders have been dispatched and/or received though.

Other regular activities include the monitoring of customers’ consignment stock levels (most commonly via the SecoPoint automated tool vending system); liaising with customers regarding changes to their tooling requirements; and generally making sure that customers are receiving the best customer service possible.

Right people for the job

Nowhere do Seco’s shared values of Passion for Customers; Family Spirit and Individual Commitment have more resonance than in the company’s Logistics operations, or with the individual employees who work in the team.

Concludes Shirley Dainty:

'Working in Seco’s Logistics Team is not just a job. We make promises to customers and we do everything we can to keep them.

'We employ people with great communication skills, who are prepared to go the extra mile for customers and who, through their own endeavours and by working as part of a team, exceed customers’ expectations...not once or twice...but all of the time.'

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