Interview by Jeanne Vida Douglas
A few years working in the logistics and freight sector made Helen Jarman realize the hidden headaches that lie in the transport and distribution of products and inputs.
“Companies that manufacture and distribute products have supply-chain suppliers.” Jarman says. “It is a complex problem, and while there was software and different services companies with logistics requirements.”
In 1999, Jarman launched Infoactiv to offer a complete transportation and logistics management service. She did not have much to start with- no capital, assets, and clients or credit history- which made the first year very difficult. But by the end of the first 12 months, computer giant Hewlett-Packard had signed up as Infoactiv’s first big client.
Two years later, Infoactiv began an expansion into the Asia-Pacific region, and Jarman began turning the company’s experience into software packages.
The result was the 2003 launch of Loginet Software, a web-based supply-chain management system, and the company shifted from being a supply-chain operator to selling the technology to supply-chain operators. “We can replace an entire logistics department, or sell a technology that streamlines the operations of an internal logistics department,” Jarman says. “We don’t have the physical infrastructure- we manage the warehouse, but we don’t own it.”
By 2004, Infoactiv had built a solid reputation in asset-management services to the information technology sector, and had customers in 10 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Behind the company’s growth is the pressure on computer makers to account for old hardware when their customers eventually throw it out. “Australia is one of the few developed nations that allow electronic waste to be dumped into landfill.” Jarman says. “In many countries, manufacturers have to account not only for the product’s initial shipping, but also its end-of- life disposal.”
The eWaste reverse logistics and disposal management was launched in 2004, and now accounts for half of company revenue. Another 30 per cent comes from sales and services surrounding the Loginet software, and 20 percent from lead logistics, transportation and program management.
By investing heavily in software and software development and focusing on web-based delivery, Jarman has been able to expand throughout the region and keep staff levels low. “The web is the only way you can truly provide the flexibility and manage the range of different clients we have,” she says.
“we manage by exception- we control and track all the activity, but only drill down and actively manage about 10to 15 percent of that data. This allows us to automate and to handle quite large volumes with a small team.”
“The next 12 months is based on expanding the capabilities of the technology, we’re focusing on double-digit growth in all our three main areas, and we’ll be looking at investing in management expertise to expand our presence in Asia.”
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