Interview with Bruce
Lee Kok Leong interviews Bruce Stubbs, global director of supply chain marketing at Honeywell.
January 19, 2017
By Lee Kok Leong
What is your view of the postal industry of Asia in general?
The postal industry in Asia is very forward thinking and focused on efficiencies. The industry is dealing with the large e-commerce delivery dynamic and supports greater than one-half of the world’s population. Postal organizations in Asia are willing to invest in both infrastructure and systems to meet current and future demand. On the whole, Asia has also been instrumental and at the forefront of forging some of the most interesting types of innovation across the industry.
What do you think are the challenges? How can companies overcome them?
Globally, we are seeing declining volumes of traditional mail due to e-mail and social media. As a result, postal organizations are being led to look for new revenue streams, such as e-commerce deliveries and services for customs clearance of imported items.
Online shoppers, however, are expecting faster and more accurate delivery windows than ever before. Consumers expect to receive their packages quickly and do not want to have to wait around all day for a delivery man. Increasingly, they are also starting to expect not to pay a delivery charge.
To make e-commerce parcel delivery successful, it is critical that postal organizations invest in track-and-trace solutions. This will give their customers as well as their own operations managers, real-time insight and visibility into the location of their packages within the network.
Mobile technology – such as handheld computers and mobile printers – are making these new services possible. Data capture technology helps to track parcels at every step of the delivery process, and intuitive interfaces resembling commercial smartphones reduce the chance of user errors. These devices can be interconnected through a cloud platform to provide data such as proof-of-delivery.
What does it means to have a connected supply chain in the postal industry?
A connected supply chain in the postal industry incorporates worker productivity devices, sensors and cloud-based software to drive towards greater automation. There needs to be tighter integration of technology solutions.
Postal firms need greater visibility into their operations with better access to data, such as the location of parcels and trucks and the productivity levels of distribution and sortation centers. All points in the process – from pickup, sorting and delivery – need to be monitored and evaluated. This will reduce errors while leading to greater predictability of delivery times, which leads to better customer service.
At Honeywell, we see customers of all sizes moving to these connected solutions – from the large, complex organizations such as the U.S. Postal Service to the smaller firms like Jersey Post in the U.K.
How do you see IIoT in the postal industry?
Postal organizations cannot afford any errors or delays in delivery. In the field, mobile workers typically must accomplish a number of tasks during a delivery, which can lead to errors or unproductive time.
Postal and courier firms need to leverage the Internet of Things to turn their delivery workers into “connected workers” by providing them with user-friendly mobile technology to capture data throughout the delivery process. This helps replace manual/written processes and procedures with electronic, automated technology to drive greater accuracy and eliminate errors.
In addition to connected workers, IoT can be leveraged in the form of sensors to monitor temperature or location of items. For example, sensors can tell if the temperature in a delivery truck raise to dangerous levels and spoil fresh flowers. Or, RFID tags can make sure that high-value items aren’t subject to theft.
Looking forward, in your opinion, what is the outlook for the postal industry?
While this is a time of uncertainty and change in the postal industry, I think it is also a great opportunity for business transformation. E-commerce continues to grow at an incredible rate, which opens up a lot of possibilities for parcel delivery. IoT technology is much more affordable and can increase delivery times, while reducing errors.