What does your company do?
Conveyor Networks is a UK-based systems integrator and warehouse solutions provider founded in 2009 by myself and Geoff Wooding. Working from design and build through to servicing and maintenance, the company offers retail and ecommerce businesses of all sizes, best-in-class warehouse software and automation solutions. We engineer our own software called “imio” which is a modular warehouse management system, and can run everything from conveyors and sortation, to packing lines, fully automated processes and carrier integration.
WHAT IS YOUR USP?
We have a unique understanding of both software and hardware for warehouse applications, we integrate both. We are a one stop shop for automation, controls software, warehouse management software, and post-sales service and support. We are also an SME, so we have the advantage of being flexible, able to work to much shorter lead times than the larger providers, yet we have the internal expertise and external partnerships to allow us to project manage and build bespoke, needs based solutions where necessary. Notably we are an independent outfit, so we are not beholden to any specific hardware providers; this means we can install the most appropriate automation for the customer (new or existing) providing the best fit for their business and budget requirements.
Our imio warehouse management software is suitable for any size of business and provides a user-friendly, fit for purpose software suite able to meet the complexities and challenges of ecommerce and omnichannel retailing. Its modular, scalable design offers the flexibility to meet differing business requirements and it is seamless to integrate with warehouse hardware and control systems. This gives our customers more real time visibility of their total warehouse operation and the ability to react quickly to ever changing customer demands. This may be, for example, an improvement in their track & trace capability, logging functionality or pick accuracy.
“Our core focus is simplifying what can be a complicated, time consuming process so that customers gain an intelligent, efficient solution that can be implemented quickly and to a high standard.”
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Our customers are predominantly retail and ecommerce organisations of varying sizes. They include Debenhams [IRDX RDEB], QVC [IRDX RQVC], The Book People, Specsavers [IRDX RSPS] , WHSmith [IRDX RWHS] Sand Euro Car Parts, to name a few. We’ve worked with many of them on several projects over the years and pride ourselves on creating a longstanding relationship; which for many, incorporates ongoing support and maintenance SLAs.
We’re also building long term relationships with 3PL companies such as DHL, XPO and K&N as we look to support them on their strategic “value added services” offer – for example, improved packaging and sortation solutions.
Some of our smaller (tier 2, tier 3) customers are investing in warehouse automation for the first time, or they may have some legacy automation which requires an upgrade.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE CHALLENGES FOR RETAILERS OVER THE COMING YEAR?
The key challenge for any business is to meet the service expectation of their end customer, especially during peak trading. Retailers are being pushed by customer expectation to offer shorter delivery timescales resulting in a need to better manage last mile delivery and fulfil to a variety of different locations, such as click and collect from stores, delivery to home or third party collection points. All this must be done in a transparent way which provides clear communication with customers as to the status of their delivery and meets delivery promises every time.
To adhere to these high customer standards, retailers will need to source credible, cost-effective partners (in automation and software) who can provide systems that are both fit for purpose and that integrate effortlessly with incumbent host systems. These partnerships work best if they are well thought out, long term partnerships, with organic growth plans, and which include relevant monitoring and support agreements. Once established, we find accurate, swift fulfilment and customer loyalty comes naturally.
Once a retailer has located their preferred system partner, then comes the challenge of proving that the capital investment required to pay for the project delivery has a return. At Conveyor Networks we aim to guide the customer through all of the intricacies involved in making the business case to the key stakeholders, so as to help them raise the necessary CAPEX for automation.
HOW ARE YOU PREPARED TO MEET THESE CHALLENGES?
Conveyor Networks offer products and services to all businesses large and small and our key focus is to customise the solution to achieve the customers’ core objectives. “Being there” sits at the heart of our Mission Statement, so our support and maintenance packages ensure that their automation and software operations continue to deliver throughout daily and peak trading periods.
Conveyor Networks also allocates a great deal of resource to their research innovation program. Together with organisations such as the STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council) and Heriot-Watt University, understanding new products and the longer term changes and challenges to retail logistics as a whole, are central to our customer offering.
This Company Spotlight was produced by InternetRetailing and paid for by Conveyor Networks. Funding articles in this way allows us to explore topics and present relevant services and information that we believe our readers will find of interest.
Customer Case Study
WHSmith – Cost effective, accurate sortation with improved reporting and traceability.
WHSmith is a well-known high street name with numerous outlets for book and stationery products.
Its regional distribution centres sort and despatch a mixture of products to each store. Conveyor Networks designed and installed its sortation system in 2010. However, in order to provide better throughput and improve product traceability the sorter needed to be extended during 2016.
Key objectives were to increase throughput, log all actions and improve track and trace ability.
Conveyor Networks reconfigured the sortation system from a 13 to a 20 way sort with one recirculation route. The operation is driven by Conveyor Networks software suite – imio. The products are scanned and auto sorted to the appropriate exit chute where there are multiple pallets. Hand scanning then ensures that each item goes to the correct pallet. Paperwork for each pallet is generated and used to confirm receipt on arrival at the store.
Imio’s reporting interface logs all the events from the operation and provides a set of default reports. The software also integrates with WHSmith’s invoicing system providing the data needed to invoice each store accurately.
As a result of the combined software and automation solution WHSmith has faster, clearer processes with accurate tracking and reporting. Imio provides real-time operational updates and more detailed insight via its reporting functionality, integrating seamlessly with other management systems.
Ian Mattock, Operations and Facilities Manager at WHSmith commented: “imio’s reporting interface enables us to be accurate and transparent about all aspects of our operation. Overall the upgraded system and support package delivers well for us and it’s been a really positive project to work on.”
CONVEYOR NETWORKS IN BRIEF
Date launched: 2009
Global reach: UK and Europe
Customers: Customers include QVC, Debenhams, The Book People, Euro Car Parts and WHSmith.
Number of employees: 18
Partners: Conveyor Networks is truly independent of hardware provider so can provide the best solution to fit business need and budgetary requirements.
For more information about Conveyor Networks, please visit www.conveyornetworks.co.uk or telephone 01925 742888.