Why it makes sense to have Relay on your team
Relay is a specialist technical logistics company that delivers an average of 850 MFPs per day on behalf of OEMs and dealers nationwide. Unlike many other companies, it transports MFPs that are already assembled and in what the trade calls a PDI (pre-delivery inspection) state.
According to Sales Director Daniel Rangecroft, moving devices from one end of the country to the other once they’ve been unpacked, built, filled with toner and loaded with network settings requires a very different skillset to that needed for
shifting boxes of components.
“Once unpacked, an MFP is very susceptible to damage and so needs extra special handling to ensure it arrives at the end-user’s premises in one piece,” he said. “We’re experts in safeguarding delicate and valuable equipment, from collection to storage to final mile delivery.”
Relay operates a fleet of over 65 specialist vehicles, from 3.5 tonne vans to 40ft articulated trucks, all equipped with air-ride suspension, load locking systems and tail lifts.
“MFPs on wheels need to be carefully loaded onto the vehicles, which is why we use tail lifts,” explained Rangecroft. “We securely stow each device with specialist locking systems, using blankets, foam corners and other protective measures to ensure there is no damage during transit.”
All vehicles are temperature-controlled, as is the 100,000 square feet of secure warehousing at Relay’s strategically located logistics operating centres in Northampton, Warrington, Iver and Coatbridge. If the temperature in a vehicle drops below a certain level, heating kicks in automatically.
“This is especially important during the winter months, as transferring an MFP from a cold truck into warm business premises will create condensation, which ultimately impairs print quality,” said Rangecroft.
He adds that each Mercedes Benz vehicle has a minimum of two people on board to ensure devices are unloaded and installed with the utmost care. “We are representing our customers, so a professional image is paramount,” he said.
“We don’t just pick up and drop off. Our team of uniformed, technically-trained drivers unload the machines, deliver them directly to the room where they will be deployed and, if there is no lift available, we use specialist equipment such as a stair walker to remove the risk of damage on stairwells.”
The comprehensive on-site service includes removing packaging; fitting any external accessories, such as finishers, sorters etc.; powering up the device; assigning IP addresses; conducting a green button test; and providing a customer demo.
Relay can deliver anywhere in the UK within 24 hours and offers same-day and next-day scheduled, part-load deliveries. Through its partners, it can provide a part-load service across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and can make dedicated deliveries there for customers who ask it to manage a roll-out on their behalf.
Relay’s customer base includes OEMs and about 100 UK dealerships, including Konica Minolta, Toshiba, Develop and Altodigital, for which it effectively acts as an extension of their own resource. “We will even produce delivery notes and associated paperwork with their branding, if required,” said Rangecroft.
“OEMs typically don’t have a fleet of delivery vehicles and the logistics of shipping equipment originating in and around London to somewhere in Scotland overnight, for example, would present significant logistical problems, not to mention cost.”
This is equally true for dealers, especially smaller ones or those that have to manage devices in several locations across the country that it may be impractical to ship and install direct.
Economies of scale
Rangecroft says that utilising a third-party with significant economies of scale enables customers to save time and money.
“We move large volumes from north to south overnight using trunkers. A typical load would be 50 devices, making the price per unit much more cost-effective. These are then split and loaded onto smaller trucks for final mile delivery the next
day. On average, each vehicle completes eight deliveries per day, that’s a total of 850 drop-offs each day.”
He added: “Each of our customers has a contracted cost. They know up-front how much delivery is going to cost, making it easy to factor into any proposal. But perhaps the biggest advantage is that managing peaks and troughs becomes our headache and not theirs.
“We typically see major peaks at month end, quarter end and year end. It’s not uncommon for us to be managing up to 1,200 drops per day at month end, for example. But that’s what our customers pay us for, to ensure that the delivery process is smooth sailing,” he said.