BSS sets its sights on water

A massive national tube distribution centre in the heart of the country is more than a logistical measure for BSS. It is a way of moving into new business sectors and securing the company's future.

BSS Indusrial, a distributor of pipeline and heating solutions, has revamped its supply chain as it looks to expand into a wider range of industries.

As part of its strategy to cater for the needs of these additional markets as well as those it already serves, BSS has invested in a 4,413m2 national tube distribution centre (NTDC) at Cross Point Business Park near Coventry.

The new NTDC, which officially opened last month and began trading in August, complements an existing facility on the Magna Park distribution complex in Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

Representing BSS Industrial's single largest investment in distribution since the opening of the Magna Park warehouse, the NDC increases the company's ability to supply linear product to the market. It also gives BSS the capacity to make up to three deliveries a week to its nationwide network of 56 branches, on a lead-time of either 24 or 48 hours.

According to BSS, this means it can offer customers a consistent service, on a wider range of product than ever before. Traditionally, BSS has provided linear product and technical support to the building services industry, while servicing a small number of specialist accounts.

With its new capabilities, BSS expects to reach a much wider range of industries including water, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, chemical, power, ship building, automotive, dairy and aggregates.

Man for the job
The man given the task of sorting out BSS's supply chain was David Rose.
Having joined the company in June 2006, his mission has been to look at the supply chain and, in particular, the linear distribution.

Rose explains: "BSS is the market leader in the commercial and industrial sector for pipes, valves and fittings. We identified an opportunity with a lot of our existing customers, that we already service with valves and fittings, to also satisfy their linear requirements."

Having the right linear products in stock is vital, especially as lead times on certain goods can be up to 16 weeks, he adds: "That's erratic."

Rapid response
The new NTDC has the capacity to store 2,600 bundles of tube, and the stock profile includes all types of linear product including API, stainless and plastic.

Around 400 product lines will be stored at the facility and Rose expects this number to reach 500 during the next five years.

The company has also introduced regular sales and operations planning meetings to ensure each branch is supplied with the right products it needs in order to meet
customer demand.

Rose explains: "We are working more closely with customers to find where the demand is. It's very important that we can offer the technical knowledge.
"In five to ten years time, only a handful of people will be able to deliver that capability. We will be one of them."

"This is more important than just being about logistics," says Rose.

The new NTDC will not stock the top 25 best-selling products - these will be held at the regional stocking points - but will instead hold stainless products and the more specialised goods.

Rose believes that the centralised operation and new NTDC will provide a major benefit to BSS "as the market matures" and it targets the new sectors. "We will be able to respond quickly," he adds.

The change to BSS's distribution has been a cultural one to the company, and has been integral in order to support the inventory.

"This was not a logistics project. It was a business project - it's making the supply chain a key factor," says Rose.

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