Seco Tools UK is an organization focused on high tech customers for whom they add value and show Documented Cost Reduction (DCR). In fact, some 60% of their customers are involved with aerospace component manufacturing, and in Ireland nearly 80% of business is with customers in the medical (orthopedic implant) industry. Other industry focus segments include Oil & Gas and the extremely high-paced Formula One industry, all having in common complex engineering and difficult-to-machine materials.

“We’ve chosen to focus on business areas such as aerospace and medical, for example, where we not only bring great products, but also solutions for engineering, technical support and other added values”, says Mick Wood, Regional Manager Midlands North, Seco UK. “And one of those key values is controlled inventory, which we do through Inventory Management. From a strategic sales perspective, since confidentiality is high with these types of customers, once you get in, it’s very difficult for a competitor to break in”, Wood continues.

With a background in manufacturing and a philosophy of bringing people up in the organization, Wood is accustomed to training and development. “All our guys are well trained in VBS, using proper questioning techniques to find out what the customer is looking for, or needs (and sometimes doesn’t know), and then we use our offering to fill those needs”, says Wood. The technology is working for distribution as well. Matrix tools, an important distributor for Seco UK, is a big advocate of Seco Inventory Management, selling two to three per month, with more than 50 already installed.

Matrix is currently using a model where one machine equals roughly 60,000 pounds of business, and for that they offer a free Inventory Management cabinet. Matrix has seen 20% growth this year with Inventory Management, and is forecasting the same next year. Results are similar for CIS, another value- added distributor that promotes Inventory Management as part of an overall solutions strategy for its high- tech customer base. In many cases, we have funded the machine if the customer has a certain volume, and in the UK it’s usually 30,000 pounds in the first year”, says Wood. That amount justifies the cost of the machine and allows sales to be less focused on admin tasks and more focused on engineering.

In the UK, there are many competitors, from large multi- brand distributors to the usual suspects – Iscar, Kennametal, Coromant, Walter and lower-tech brands as well. In many cases, these competitors are willing to give away their vending solution. Seco differentiates themselves in a couple ways. One, Seco Inventory Management has no on-site software, so updates and issues can be resolved quickly and from a remote location.

Secondly, by bundling Inventory Management with engineering support and great tooling in order to win business. Seco Inventory Management solutions are used reliably in the UK, with one machine in particular that after twelve years of service finally needed to be replaced. That machine currently manages one half million pounds of inventory annually. “For the future this is still a big growth area for us”, says Wood. They key is to get in now. Trying to convert vending solutions after the fact is too late.