BFS Moves their Business Forward Together, One Step at a Time
It takes dedication and effort to stay on top. Businesses need to continuously work to keep ahead of the changes that are being presented to them or risk being left behind.
As such, over the past 12 years Bangkok Flight Services (BFS) has been evolving the way their business is operated. They began their concession at Suvarnabhumi Airport with a modern operation and have continued to innovate in ways to better suit the needs of their customer as well, and the industry as a whole.
To keep on track, the company has been making changes to ensure they not only meet but exceed their promises to customers. To do this, their management staff has been working hard to promote and implement new ways of keeping up to date with the increasing demands being placed on their business.
For a deeper look, we spoke with Mr. Crispin Morris, Director of Systems & Information Technology. While his role has evolved over time at BFS, his dedication to the company since their beginnings at the airport has helped steer them to where they are today.
A Unique Path
Crispin’s background is quite different from the average person in a similar IT focused position. As he explained, “Being British but growing up in Hong Kong gave me a particular perspective to the world around me. I was always curious growing up about the world and how it worked. It’s partially why I became a time served apprentice for a heavy industrial company serving the Oil & Gas and Nuclear Power industries. Back then there was so much going on in Hong Kong development, it was an Engineers dream. I learned a set of skills that are hard to get these days as Apprenticeships are not as common any longer, but I’m fortunate that I now get to pass on those skills I learned to my team here. However, I feel like I’m a bit of an oddity in the fact that I have a range of experiences from IT to Mechanical Engineering, and Engineering Business Management. I have a passion for Engineering and Information Technology, therefore to me it’s not only Science it’s Art as well. Not only that, but I see myself as a people person; I love sitting and talking with people which is not the stereotype of a typical IT person.”
This was readily apparent with how warm and receptive Crispin was when he invited us to speak with him. This openness was also evident with BFS staff who were encouraged to simply come up and speak with him on a variety of matters throughout our time interviewing him. Crispin went onto explain further how he got into the airfreight industry.
It’s all working towards what I see as my goal here; to serve customers with high performing equipment and systems.
“After my apprenticeship, I was fortunate to work with the Hong Kong Airport Authority where I was part of a team responsible of the baggage handling and security systems for the new airport; that’s how I got into Aviation Ground Handling. So, you could say I progressed from the shop floor to the office. I feel like this gives me a great perspective throughout all aspects of the business here; I know and appreciate what they are doing on the floor, but I can also liaison with upper management just as easy. It’s all working towards what I see as my goal here; to serve customers with high performing equipment and systems.”
Upgrades and Maintenance
After operating their concession successfully for 12-years running now, BFS has come to understand where improvements can be made, and they are actively working towards improving their systems and facility. Some of their current projects include a cool room renovation, chiller plant and air-conditioning renovation, building automation system, an IP phone system, ULD storage renovation, and installing LED warehouse lights.
While these are all important and valuable additions to the facility, Crispin explained further what he sees as one of the biggest quality of life improvements to the business. “Preventative maintenance (PM) is one of the best ways to ensure safety, quality and reliability in everything we do here. This covers a number of areas. We first began by upgrading older equipment and we’ve added some more features and functions with mobile technology. This better allows our technicians and staff to be able to get the information they need to do their jobs effectively. It’s important we keep on top of maintenance as the equipment works around the clock here. Airside, we need everything available 24/7 for when an aircraft arrives as we have to be ready to service them.”
“All of this equipment we have here is critical and has many moving parts. There are bearings, springs, chains, and all types of mechanical components that need greasing and care regularly. They tend to dry out in a humid and dusty environment, so preventative maintenance is critical to keeping everything running with high availability and reliability. To do this, we have implemented maintenance schedules digitally to ensure we are always oiling, adjusting, tensioning, and checking all the equipment we have on a set and rigid schedule. PM also allows us to be Greener and more energy efficient, which in turn leads to free savings. An example is the Cool Room Temperatures. I approached it from an energy saving mindset and with that, quality goes hand-in-hand with maintaining optimal temperature.”
Crispin says that one of the biggest improvements for maintenance was the digitalization of their entire inventory and management system for their equipment. On a single screen, anyone can easily see a color-coded system for the health of the equipment. Green means the equipment is serviceable with nothing to do corrective, yellow means it’s safe to use, but something is wearing out or needs to be replaced soon, and red means out of service. All of this gives a quick overhead view of how much equipment they have, which is so important as this equipment is used in aircraft loading and unloading. There can be no flight delays, so having enough redundancy is critical here.
We have strong IT and Engineering in-house and we are readily available to act immediately when needed.
The IT side of the business has been expanding and evolving rapidly over the years for BFS. However, as Crispin described to accomplish their goals they moved away from using outside vendors. Their onsite support Operations team are able to deliver immediate results and is something vendors cannot do as they are not on premise. There are times when vendors provide essential specialist services, but for the majority of their needs BFS has found success from insourcing their needs. Especially now, as Crispin, described, “We have strong IT and Engineering in-house and we are readily available to act immediately when needed.”
One of the biggest recent advancements was the adoption of mobile technology in the warehouse. As Crispin mentioned, these handheld units are available for staff that allows them to directly connect with the inventory control system. Everyone in the warehouse can pick a unit up and see exactly where a specific piece of cargo is located. Comparing this to years bygone when this type of bookkeeping would have been done with pen and paper and it’s a night and day difference in terms of accuracy and speed.
Crispin said, “If we didn’t have mobile technology, it would have inhibited our growth. You could not do this on paper. Especially with process like keeping truck docks clear, you have to have strict processes in place. With mobile technology, we can scan a customer’s document and make sure their truck is here before we assign a dock. We can then automatically send out a message to ready and deliver their cargo to the dock, so it all ties in. It allows the people that use our service to get the cargo quickly and efficiently.”
A New Philosophy
When asked, ‘who are your customers?’ Crispin simply answered, “Everyone who comes to BFS for its services, everyone that lives here, and anyone that want to come to BFS”
The results of BFS’ efforts are becoming more evident as Crispin reports that they have over the years more than doubled the number of customers they have. With this tremendous growth comes more demands from customer and more pressure on them to deliver at all levels cross their business.
To handle these needs, digitalization of many parts of their business was needed to help realize their goals, but to continue strongly into the future the restructuring of new teams was needed. Crispin describes that a change in mentality has been underway and much of the staff have been very receptive to it.
This particular management style is focused on not taking one person one thousand meters, instead you take one thousand people one meter the result is one large team.
“One thing that we’ve done with the facility, and IT team especially, is implement a management style I learned while at Business School which is what the Japanese tend to practice. This particular management style is focused on not taking one person one thousand meters, instead you take one thousand people one meter the result is one large team. Between the Director of Cargo and I, that’s what we like to do; move the whole team together. It’s a big part of our leap forward where there’s no longer silos.”
“This is being instilled in our staff from the start. Like with our new Facility Manager and Management Team, I was able to select and a team with a diverse skill set including all necessary disciplines of Engineering skills. I was able to get the right people where we can sit down and talk to solve problems. I feel like I create an open and supportive environment where people aren’t afraid to come speak with me. It’s so important to create this type of atmosphere here, because without this communication you then lack information. By sitting down and working together to solve problems as a team, we tackle large issues piece by piece.
Like what we did with our new IT system, we broke it down into its simplest form to get to where we are today. Unless you can express something in numbers, you don’t actually know anything about it. That’s what we think when we’re putting things together here; let’s look at it from a very simplistic view and work together to accomplish the goal we set out. We do all of this as a team, taking one step forward, together.”