Telecoms giant BT says it plans to expand the number of locker locations across the UK for its final mile solution, making it easier for field engineers to collect spare parts for customer installation services.
Around 1,700 fully autonomous intelligent lockers have already been installed in the UK. Each of the smart lockers weighs 400kg and is 98% recyclable as the exterior casing is made from 3,000 milk bottle tops.
BT’s Final Mile service is a nationwide network of secure lockers and boxes, used as intermediary stock locations by organisations with large field engineering teams. By storing parts at strategic sites along engineers’ routes, businesses can reduce driving hours to serve customers faster, remove cost and minimise environmental impact.
Stephen Maddison, managing director of Final Mile, told SHD Logistics that his company has plans to disrupt the marketplace and to best maximise the time of its engineering staff. “At heart, we are an R&D organisation, so we are at present looking at the next-generation locker solution – in terms of design, shape and the materials we use – to make it even more environmentally friendly. “Engineers, at the end of the day, are paid good money to be good engineers,” he continued. “We have engineers that spend as much as five hours during the day driving. Our job is to put the spare part where they need it.”Maddison said the future goal was to become the biggest Final Mile network in the country, with very long-term plans to expand overseas, although he declined to comment further on this matter. “First and foremost, our focus is on the UK. Once we feel we have a solid footing in the UK, we will look at opportunities to expand overseas,” he concluded.
BT hosted its first-ever BT Field Engineering Forum earlier this summer, discussing a range of topics, including the need for digital transformation and the challenges facing the UK and global supply chain.
Unilever EVP SC transformation Biswaranjan Sen, who spoke at the event, discussed his company’s similar stance to BT in terms of innovation. “The combination of soaring consumer expectations and the explosion of revolutionary digital technology has really opened a new era of opportunity for Unilever,” he said. “In a world in which customised manufacturing is fast becoming the norm, and customers are becoming ever more demanding, the fully responsive supply chain is a huge competitive advantage.
He concluded: “The amount of digital solutions and the speed at which new ones are being developed is unprecedented. AI, for example, isn’t something new, but it’s now easier than ever to implement it through user-friendly tools and interfaces. We are excited to be pioneering some technologies in Supply Chain that will help accelerate our growth.”