B&H Worldwide provides one-source, one-format tracking for the aviation industry.
By Tim O’Connor
If the head of a company’s logistics department reduces the shipping budget by 10 percent and saves a half-million dollars, his or her boss proclaims them a genius. That kind of cost cutting might look good on a balance sheet, but B&H Worldwide wants its aviation industry customers to think bigger.
Instead of trimming shipping expenses, Russ Smith, regional director – Americas for B&H, contends that the right logistics and tracking solutions can save companies millions in multiple areas. Broken-down airplanes can get back in the sky quicker when parts can be easily tracked and diverted to where they are needed. A speedy solution can eliminate the need for airlines to pay for displaced passengers’ hotel rooms and reduce the ripple effect that delays have on flight scheduling.
Resolving an issue like airplane maintenance delays often involves a large number of people. By tackling the problem from a logistics standpoint, companies can know where the replacement part is at any time, react accordingly and simplify the solution. Those everyday victories soon outpace the savings from budget cuts. “You could easily save that $500,000 in just one problem,” Smith says.
B&H has served the aviation industry since 1988 when two ex-DHL employees founded the logistics company. “We are dedicated specialists,” Smith explains. “We’re not one of the large companies that’s trying to handle a niche market like the aviation industry and somehow trying to fit it in their corporate structure.” The company started in London and has expanded its reach to the United States, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Serving the fast-moving and high-cost aviation industry required B&H to be nimble. To do so, the company developed its own software, called OnTrack, that lets it tie into a customer’s existing logistics system and provide real-time updates on inventory and shipping information. The software started as an in-house order number tracking system but has evolved to the point where B&H can track almost anything, including repair status, in a single format.
OnTrack enables clients to follow tracking information from multiple carriers through a concise, but detailed portal. In that way, Smith says B&H can be the one-source, one-format place for its customers.
OnTrack is about convenience for the customer. Instead of trying to persuade customers to adopt its system, B&H integrates OnTrack into the software its clients already use. “We’ll work your way rather than you work our way,” Smith says. B&H’s technology is designed to be flexible and can add features such as inventory management or photos so that customers can access all the information they need in one file. “It’s that sort of attention to detail that we’re looking at,” Smith says. “We’re saving the customer a minute that they didn’t even realize they wanted.”
B&H sees every company along the aviation supply chain as a potential customer. B&H has worked with a range of companies, from mom-and-pop shops to legacy carriers, to move manufacturing panels, wings, engines, avionics, tires and nearly every other kind of aircraft component. “Anything that has anything to do with aircraft flying around we’re involved in somewhere around the line,” Smith says.
With airlines and manufacturers now operating around the clock and with a global customer base, a problem can arise at any time. “You’re only looking for someone when something is urgent, critical, people are jumping up and down,” Smith says. That is why B&H operates a 24/7 critical logistics center in the United Kingdom. No matter what the time of day, customers can call B&H and talk to a live person who can help them develop a logistics solution. “We have a good personal relationship with our customers because of that,” Smith explains.
B&H’s growth is driven by that same commitment to its customers. Rather than barreling into a market with million of dollars invested and hoping to do well, B&H only expands into a new area when customers have a need.
Smith says B&H has the flexibility to expand as necessary because of its flat management structure and lean model. If the company needs additional space, it simply takes on another facility in a matter of days. “If our customers are looking to expand into a marketplace we can work with them and help them understand where there are going to be pitfalls,” Smith adds.
With demand for new aircraft at an all-time high – both Airbus and Boeing reached record numbers last year, with 635 and 762 planes delivered, respectively – B&H has more opportunity than ever to support the aviation industry. “For us, it’s a very bright future indeed,” Smith says.
Employees: 150 globally
Specialty: Aviation logistics