In conversation with Venkat Rao, Country General Manager (Enterprise) at Pitney Bowes India
What led you from there to become a technology company?
Pitney Bowes had a transformation of 95-year-old Pitney Bowes from mailing and shipping provider to a global technology company.
Pitney Bowes offers innovative products and solutions that enable commerce in the areas of customer information management, location intelligence, customer engagement, shipping and mailing, and global ecommerce.
We have more than 1.5 million clients in approximately 100 countries around the world rely on products, solutions and services.
We are termed as ‘Craftsmen of Commerce’ working in the complexity of commerce, powering billions of transactions, digital and physical.
Where is Pitney Bowes based? Where do you develop your solutions?
Pitney Bowes Inc. is an American provider of global eCommerce solutions, shipping , Sortation and mailing products, location intelligence, customer engagement and customer information management solutions. It is headquartered in in Stamford, Connecticut where it develops its solutions.
Being the only global player to have direct operations in India Pitney Bowes is well positioned. With the advent of digital age postal services in the country Pitney Bowes offer its proven world-class technology solutions to its large customer base in India.
Here, the Pitney Bowes R&D centers in India are located in Noida and Pune, with more than 600 employees, committed to bring value to our clients.
The R&D office in Noida is the single largest co-located office in Pitney Bowes, worldwide. It has been the Top 50 Great Places to Work, four years in a row. It also recently expanded with its new office in Gurgaon underscoring investments in the field of innovation.
Pitney Bowes is also the leading provider of stamp duty evidencing solutions in India and have provided end-to-end customer communication management solutions to help organizations effectively manage their digital and physical communication needs in the growing market.
Its software business helps corporations and government agencies to acquire serve and grow customer/citizen relationships. Their solutions add data quality geocoding location intelligence predictive analytics communication management and mailing efficiency into critical customer relationship management workflows and business systems.
Leading corporations’ major government agencies and top systems integrators worldwide rely on Pitney Bowes’ proven expertise and decades of leadership.
Recently, it has ventured into the business of secured evidencing and visitor management solutions.
Do you sell your solutions direct or through distributors?
The GTM (Go to Market) devised to meet the client requirements in India is a hybrid model with the use of both Direct & Indirect sales models.
We are continuously expanding our footprint of partner network to meet the requirements of the robust growth of the Ecommerce industry through our Sortation solutions.
How are you structured to sell your products to the warehouse and logistics audience?
The Document Messaging Technologies (DMT) business unit of Pitney Bowes address the warehouse and logistics audience through the company’s Sortation solutions, which includes the design, manufacturing, installation and service of Sortation equipment. This includes products in the category of One Sort & True Sort coupled with intuitive Business Logic Processing (BLP) software.
How big is Pitney Bowes now in turnover and staff?
We do not share numbers. In terms of employees, Pitney Bowes has more than 800 employees in the country, spread across various locations including the company’s largest R&D center outside of US, in Noida.
Pitney Bowes has been recognized as one of Great Places To Work 5 years in a row and is one of the Top 5 IT companies in India.
What do you offer in terms of Location Intelligence?
Pitney Bowes believes there is significant advancement not just to create completely new categories but also to modernize the existing categories. We recently launched state-of-the-art location intelligence solutions last month. One can experience PB’s Location Intelligence capabilities in a completely new and different way, giving an impactful new set of business opportunities.
• In Geocoding – Pitney Bowes is launching a new Geo-enrichment product. It is pre-geocoded with Master Location Data (MLD) database with most accurate location data for over 170 million U.S. addresses with 100’s of attributes all pre-packaged having highest accuracy, depth and width of dataset and making it easy for append additional attributes.
Pitney Bowes Location Intelligence solutions also feature access to over 350 global data sets, and powerful analytic and visualisation capabilities with easy integration into your existing IT infrastructure.
We have bigger aspirations and bolder goals. We are ushering a new era with GEO APIs where clients will experience our offerings in location intelligence in a new way. This is about explicit focus on the mobility of experience of using Location analytics in an incredible amount of ways across devices.
We are present in app developers and web developer places, marketplaces, accessible to commercial and corporate developers and consumers.
What size of operations are your different products aimed at? Which industry sectors are they in?
Client centric – One size fits none – In the real world there is no “standard” client environment. Pitney Bowes is proud to offer powerful and flexible sorting solutions for a wide variety of document and parcel materials and volumes.
We are experts in the deployment of all types of sorting systems, software and controls that enhance our client’s operations. Our goal is to understand the requirements, key critical issues, and to collaborate towards a solution that will enable you to meet the clients near-term and long-term business objectives.
Smart – Scalable – Sophisticated – Our Automated Parcel Sorting Solutions from Pitney Bowes are customized and ultra-flexible systems ideal for all kinds of operations with the key industry sectors being – couriers Ecommerce, 3PL and postal operations looking for solutions to cope with the rising tide of internet-driven parcels.
Pitney Bowes offers an extensive range of integrated diversion systems that will fit your space, application and budget. Their flexible design enables clients to modify and expand the solutions to meet changing business needs. At Pitney Bowes, the client is central to everything we do.
Do you offer anything for companies who already have existing e-commerce systems, to help them upgrade their systems?
Yes, our Automated parcel solutions and the BLP (Business Logic Processing) Software brings in varied levels of customization to the existing operations too.
What kind of operational improvements can people expect using your solutions?
Pitney Bowes Solutions offers a plethora of operations improvements like:
- Modular and flexible solutions that grow with the business
- Automate manual tasks with speed and accuracy
- Manual, semi, or fully automated parcel induction
- In-line weighing and certified 3D measurement
- Automated label print and apply
- Wide array of out sort technologies
- Intuitive Business Logic Processing Software
In conversation with Regina Schnathmann, Director Communications and Public Relations at BEUMER Group
What are your core products and services? What are you best known for providing?
Regina Schnathmann: BEUMER Group is one of the leading manufacturers in the intralogistics sector. As a full-range supplier, we provide our customers with integrated solutions for conveying and loading technology, palletising and packaging technology and sortation and distribution systems.
This gives the customer the advantage of receiving everything, including software, from one single source. This makes us not only a system integrator, but also a software supplier. We also provide comprehensive customer support. Whether it is residential service, spare parts supply or training programmes, we offer our customers different agreements and develop individual concepts, tailored to their requirements.
What developments or upgrades have you made to your core products and services in the last 12 months?
Regina Schnathmann: There are quite a few! Our proven BEUMER stretch hood® packaging system was given a complete redesign. For the development of the new BEUMER stretch hood® A series, our specialists analysed various components and combined them optimally in terms of function, arrangement and ergonomics.
This includes a soft-touch panel that guides the user intuitively through the machine control menu as well as material-friendly transport of the film in the system.
The innovative high-capacity packaging system offers higher throughput and requires 40 % less floor space compared to previous versions. Customers from the consumer goods market and logistics sector and especially the cement, construction, and chemical industries can benefit from numerous advantages.
The stretch film for example adapts to any product that is stacked on the pallet, which ensures greater protection during transport and provides load stability. The film is very stretchable during the packaging process and its contracting forces keep the goods tight together.
Contrary to shrink wrapping, since no heat is used in the packaging process, the film will not glue to the product. A sheet placed on the pallet provides the stacked goods with additional protection against external influences.
Thanks to the high transparency of the film, the packed products are clearly visible. And barcode labelling is quickly and consistently recognisable.
Logos and text can also be printed on the film to be used as an advertising medium. The BEUMER fillpac® filling machine and the high-performance layer palletiser BEUMER paletpac® complement our product portfolio in the palletising and packaging segments, and provide our customers with complete solutions that can be adapted to any requirement.
3) Have you launched any new products and services in your conveying & loading segment for warehousing & distribution industry in the past year? How are they performing?
Regina Schnathmann: One of our latest developments is the BEUMER Parcel Picker®. This semiautomatic unloading device is used in logistics centres and is suitable for different packages. It is used for fast and ergonomic unloading of swap bodies and trailers.
Compared to manual unloading which is most commonly used today, users such as postal operators and CEP companies can considerably increase their throughput. With average-sized parcels and a trained operator who is familiar with the system, throughput rates of more than 2,500 packages per hour are possible.
Which industry sectors are your customers in?
Regina Schnathmann: BEUMER Group provides innovative solutions for various industries. We have customers from the cement and mining industries, the chemical and energy sectors, airports and CEP companies. We provide unique technologies of outstanding quality to all these industries.
How are you doing in terms of growth?
Regina Schnathmann: BEUMER Group is positioned as a world market leader and has achieved substantial growth during the last few years. We have won many important awards for being one of the most innovative companies of the German mid-sized sector.
On one hand we owe this to our sustainable management, but it’s also due to our technical developments that continue to improve and complement. We will continue this course in the future and further drive our growth.
Have you made any big moves recently in terms of investment in the business, recruitment and so on?
Regina Schnathmann: We just recently moved to a new building at our Beckum location. The four-storey building on a base surface of 2,000 square metres offers space for up to 280 new workspaces.
The new building provides an optimal working environment for our employees and the architecture blends in very well with the adjacent old structure, due to its large windows.
This is especially important to us because only if our employees are satisfied, the customer will be too. We put particular emphasis on supporting and developing our junior staff.
Being located in a more rural area like Beckum, it can be challenging to find qualified personnel. For this reason, one thing we offer students, for example, is the possibility to write their bachelor or master thesis in cooperation with the company.
The new graduates with engineering, economic or computer science degrees are then in a great position to start directly with BEUMER Group. Our international trainee program is also very attractive to young talents.
What are your plans for this year? Are you planning to bring out any more products or services, move into new markets or enter new countries?
Regina Schnathmann: As a leading manufacturer in intralogistics, we continue to look for innovations and further develop our technologies. We have the ambition to always improve our products. This allows us to always create new solutions with great benefits for the customer. We have a lot coming up in the next year too, so stay tuned!
Are you exhibiting at any major trade shows in 2016?
Regina Schnathmann: Yes, here as well we are very close to the customer and the market. We have already been at Bauma, CeMAT and Cemtech Asia and will be represented at many other trade shows and exhibitions worldwide. Such as CeMAT Australia, Mineral Processing Expo in Canada and the Parcel Forum in the US.
What are your predictions for the Warehousing & Distribution Logistics industry over this year?
Regina Schnathmann: I’m sure that digitisation, automation and flexibility will continue to grow over the next year throughout the entire intralogistics sector, not only warehousing and distribution.
The digital change will fundamentally affect the logistics value chain and create entirely new business models. This means that intralogistics companies as well as service providers will have to face new challenges.
Future success will depend even more on the capacity of their logistics centres. The customer expects fast and trouble-free delivery, 24/7. The Industry 4.0 is already here, intralogistics and digitisation are already inseparably interlinked. Even though there are already lots of intelligent solutions, we have not yet reached the technological limits.
Finally, what other headline news from BEUMER Group can our readers look forward to reading about in Warehouse Management 2016 Editions.
Regina Schnathmann: We continue to develop our company and our product range further. The second half of the year still has a lot to offer for our customers. Be ready to be surprised.
Better practices for Warehouse Management
There certainly are other operational best practices and system capabilities that play into improved inventory management, too numerous to list here. One foundational step, however, is the importance of proper training- -Rahul Mehra, CEO, AWL India Pvt. Ltd.
A growing economy over the last few years and the continued rise of e-commerce have warehouse managers under pressure to get goods out on time to multiple channels.
In the rush to meet the needs of multi-channel commerce, the need hasn’t been so much about reducing inventory, but rather controlling it in such a way that a common stock of inventory can be used to fill orders for multiple channels.
Today’s challenge with inventory is about how to manage it with enough precision to meet the needs of omni-channel fulfillment. Cost efficiency still matters, but it’s really a dual challenge: capture e-commerce opportunities, but fulfill at lowest cost.
Under One Roof
For some companies looking for omni-channel fulfillment efficiencies, the trend has been to move away from distribution centers dedicated to a single channel and instead have distribution centers that fulfill orders for multiple channels.
Ten years ago when e-commerce was still fairly new, one had a lot of channel separation in the way companies set up and run distribution centers, and e-commerce fulfillment, in many cases, was outsourced to a 3PL.
One of the trends we’re seeing now among retailers is to have multi-channel fulfillment centers in which inventory and fulfillment for all channels is under the same roof. The ultimate goal of inventory management is to optimize supply chain practices to minimize costs without jeopardizing service to customers.
Attaining these goals centers around increasing the availability of useful information, as well as other important elements such as obtaining commitment from top management, training, and developing effective cross-functional teams.
Demand planning attention
Better, leaner inventories aren’t purely the result of better use of execution systems. The process starts with the technology to forecast demand, and to properly time that demand.
Typically, companies have modules in Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or best-of-breed demand planning applications that assist planners in coming up with accurate forecasts, but the trick is in
disseminating that information to the entire supply chain team.
Leverage common bin locations
For multi-channel fulfillment centers, leveraging common, forward-pick bins for most inventories can bring labor efficiencies and a greater ability to share inventor. There are some stipulations to this approach, starting with enough similarity in order profiles across channels.
For example, if a wholesale order for a SKU typically is going to be so big it would deplete the pick bin, and then it may make sense to pick wholesale orders from an overstock location.
It really depends on the order profiles, but generally, picking from a common bin maximizes the use of labor and minimizes travel within the warehouse.
Another limitation is that even if common pick-bin locations make sense, the picking methods and downstream sortation and packing flow might be different by channel. It may be that retail orders are picked from a common bin to a conveyor and move to a cross belt sortation system, whereas e-commerce picks might be done to a cart that moves directly to a pack/ship station.
“Not all systems are created equal. You want to have the ability to co- mingle inventory in the same bin for multiple channels, but be able to systemically segregate it if you choose.”
Achieving and maintaining accuracy
Most picking should be “system directed and scan confirmed,” and in many cases, so should replenishment of bins or put away processes. Real-time data capture and scan validation have been best practices for inventory accuracy for many years, well before the shift toward omni-
channel took hold; and they are only increasing in importance as new regulations and mandates come into force such as serialized tracking of pharmaceutical and medical devices.
Serialization is going to be another level of detail that is going to have to be controlled through the entire system for more companies and supply chains.
A very simple tip on whether better data capture and validation procedures are called for, is whether staff are still wandering around at times looking for items. For all the technology advances, it’s still common in some companies that workers can’t find inventory on a timely basis.
Visibility into inbound flow
Another well established, but still highly useful technology for inventory management is electronic data interchange functionality that integrates with WMS or ERP systems.
Another best practice on the receiving side is ensuring that goods are properly identified through human readable information on labels as well as bar codes or other automatic identification technologies.
A DC’s receiving and put away procedures should also be based on having an updated inventory flow master plan. These may seem like basic details in the grand scheme of an omni-channel strategy, but they remain essential to inventory accuracy. Much of your success with inventory management is about establishing and then maintaining
Once you get a process started, having the discipline to do it right every time is critical.
Training as foundational
There certainly are other operational best practices and system capabilities that play into improved inventory management, too numerous to list here. One foundational step, however, is the importance of proper training. For example, in the rush to fill orders in a busy DC, management might not build in proper training for floor associates. So, an “extra” inventory management tip might be the most fundamental—remember the importance of training.
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