Read how Katy has worked to introduce a greener approach in OxTS purchasing
OxTS’ industry-standard GNSS-aided inertial navigation systems are often in the limelight. But within every successful company lies a busy administrative hub dealing with the logistical processes – and challenges – that are essential to its slick day-to-day operations. Here, purchasing assistant Katy Calver shines a spotlight on what goes on behind the scenes – and how she’s helping to make OxTS a greener and more environmentally friendly business.
How long have you been at OxTS?
“I started about three years ago, working in office admin back when finance and shipping were one team. As finance and shipping developed, I went into the shipping side of it, working with Marie Griffiths, Senior Export Coordinator. In November 2017, our then-purchaser left. I stepped in to help keep things running while the company looked for someone a bit more senior. I carried on doing the role part-time; then in February this year, I moved into the purchasing assistant role permanently.”
How much of a change have you seen at OxTS in those three years?
“The changes have been huge. When I first started, we were all based at the Cherwell Innovation Centre. We had R&D upstairs, we had support, we had commercial, obviously all of production – it was all on one site. But in the past couple of years, we have grown enormously. Thanks to customer demand, sales in ADAS and autonomous driving really have been behind that.”
What is a normal working day like for you?
“Day to day, I place most of the purchase orders and keep in close touch with a lot of our suppliers. We work predominantly with UK suppliers. We do have some in the US and in Canada, however, for things that are very specific to what we do, such as our antennas and part of the IMU. Good quality is obviously essential, and we select our suppliers very carefully.
“I also help with the works order management. This means working with our production team leaders to make sure everything’s running smoothly and that things are ready for our export team to ship.”
Do you ever have to deal with any crises, such as suppliers not being able to deliver on time?
“Yes, it does happen, sadly – I wish it didn’t! It usually means finding an additional source while working with production to let them know what will be late. I also need to know what they can do instead while they’re waiting to ensure we provide the best result for our customers.”
You’ve taken the lead on a 100% recyclable packaging initiative. Explain what’s going on there.
“It’s something that’s close to a lot of people’s hearts. One of my colleagues, Jorgen Laan in stores, has been helping drive this forward – he’s very passionate about trying to minimise our environmental impact. We talked about it for a while, that it would be really good to have fully recyclable packaging. I was delighted when we got the go-ahead to find a supplier who could help us go a bit more green. We were looking for something that hasn’t been chemically treated and that is fully recyclable.
“At the moment, we use cardboard and foam. However, we trade internationally and in a lot of countries the foam isn’t recycled. In the UK, it can be recycled, although it has to be taken to a specific place. Other countries – for example China, the US, Australia – aren’t as good at recycling it. By moving over to all cardboard packaging, it will be fully recyclable anywhere in the world, so customers can be assured OxTS are committed to corporate social responsibility.”
The products themselves need to be quite well protected in transit. How has that been taken into account with the revised packaging?
“We’ve had to do quite a lot of tests to make sure the packaging stands up to the shipment process and protects the equipment. We did an initial test to see how it held up: a round-trip shipment of our units to the US comparing our current packaging with the proposed new packaging. It was mostly favourable but potential improvements were highlighted. We made some changes that will ensure everything is properly protected and as the customer would expect.
“We’ve had a lot of input from our supplier. We asked what they thought we needed for the product we’re shipping and where our customers are based. They’ve been really helpful and supported us in driving this forward, which has been really nice.”
When will the new packaging be rolled out?
“The packaging has recently gone through the full approval process, so our commercial team is happy with it. We’re hoping it will launch in January, and we will be asking our customers to provide feedback. Despite all the testing, I’m a little bit nervous, to be honest! But we’re really focussing on the fact that this is our chance to make a difference by minimising our environmental impact, because it’s such an important issue now.”