Shields offers telecom operators complete solutions for their reverse logistics and supply chain needs.
By Chris Petersen
When Gordon Shields founded the company in 1979 in the United Kingdom, reverse logistics wasn’t something the telecommunications industry spent much time thinking about. Older, surplus and outdated equipment typically was simply thrown out, left to accumulate in expensive warehouses and forgotten about. However, Shields understood that there could be a greater benefit to its customers if that older equipment could be redeployed, resold or recycled rather than simply disposed of. Not only would recycling that equipment provide environmental benefits and help protect valuable corporate brands with full downstream audit trails, but Shields’ customers would experience significant OPEX and CAPEX savings by having their equipment redeployed by others.
Today, Shields serves some of the largest telecom operators in the world with a full suite of services aimed at helping them make the most of their legacy and surplus equipment. CEO Daniel Jones says the company has overcome much skepticism to become a trusted partner for many of the world’s telecommunications giants, and it has done so through an entrepreneurial spirit and a comprehensive range of solutions for the entire lifecycle of equipment.
Shields’ solutions fall into three main categories, Jones explains.
1) Equipment – Shields’ solutions for equipment include adapting it for reuse within the customers’ operations or selling it on the customers’ behalf if it cannot be reused internally.
2) Services – Shields also provides services to help maintain and run customers’ networks at maximum efficiency. These services are carried out in Shields test labs or on customer sites.
3) Software – Finally, Shields offers software solutions to help customers manage their equipment and operations through intelligent decision-making, visibility and traceability.
Even though the mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” has become more prevalent throughout the world in the last decade, Shields continues to work to educate potential customers that there is a real benefit to finding new solutions for deemed surplus equipment. As the company’s growth over the years can attest, Shields is succeeding.
All in One
According to Jones, what makes Shields such an effective reverse logistics partner to its customers is the fact that it can do so much for them. Although competitors exist in the marketplace, few of them can deliver the type of complete solutions that Shields can. “The key thing that differentiates us is that we offer a turnkey solution,” Jones says. “What we do is we bring all aspects under one roof.”
What’s more, Jones adds, is that unlike some of its competitors, Shields has no allegiance to any one OEM, which avoids the type of conflict of interest that can leave customers trying to find different solutions. “The beauty of our services is that we’re impartial, we’re agnostic, and we do what is best for our customer,” Jones says.
Shields’ ability to find solutions for its customers is rooted not only in the scope of its services but also in its flexibility and entrepreneurial culture, according to Vice President Americas Toni Gibbs. She says the company’s ability to think on its feet, listen to customers’ needs and adapt to customers’ requirements is one of its strongest qualities. “We’re obviously large enough to compete but small enough to remain agile,” Gibbs says.
The company’s “living, breathing portfolio” of solutions is tailored for each customers’ individual needs after Shields gets involved with customers’ internal teams, Gibbs adds. She says the company’s skill in communicating helps it and its customers meet their ever-changing needs spurred by evolving environmental and business requirements. “As we go into different times, the carriers have got to become more efficient,” she says. “Their needs change quickly, and we have what we consider to be advanced solutions to not only handle but facilitate that change.
“We have 35 years of relevant experience in the industry, so with continuous innovation we work with our customers closely as partners,” Gibbs adds.
Despite the increased focus on environmental impacts and recycling over the years, Gibbs says Shields still faces its biggest challenge in the form of convincing customers to take advantage of its services. “The biggest competition we have is educating the customer on how to more efficiently redeploy, resell and recycle equipment,” she says.
However, it’s becoming clear that Shields’ educational efforts are paying off. Gibbs says more customers are looking into alternative solutions to simply selling off old equipment, including recovery and recycling, in order to help improve their environmental profile. In situations like that, she says, Shields’ complete and comprehensive solutions make it a more attractive partner than others
Jones says Shields is confident it has made its case to customers, and anticipates the company gaining ground in Europe and the Americas before turning to emerging markets like Africa and South America. As more and more telecommunications companies embrace change and see the benefits of reverse logistics, Shields will continue to increase its presence in the market. “We’ve convinced the operators they can achieve large OPEX and CAPEX savings with Shields,” Jones says.