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RS Components cements its partnership with TCS for a technology and purpose-driven future

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RS Components has committed to a technology-driven future, but to tell the full story of its digital transformation, we must go back in time to an age when radio ruled the airwaves.

It’s 1937, just 15 years after the first BBC radio broadcast. Two friends set up shop in a lock-up garage in London selling spare parts for the ‘wireless’ radio sets that had become the technology behind a new form of entertainment. Like many tech companies that started in such humble surroundings (think Amazon and Google), Radiospares Ltd was destined for greater things.

From local to global

“We’re now a global industrial distributor,” says Richard Jeffers, Director of Industrial Digital Solutions at RS Components. “We deliver to around a million customers in 32 countries worldwide, sourcing products from two and a half thousand suppliers.”

As a global omnichannel solutions partner for industrial customers and suppliers, RS Components designs, builds or maintains industrial equipment and facilities. The company aims to offer its customers unrivalled choice of product technologies, solve problems with innovative technologies and deliver a world-class customer experience.

The success of RS Components was built on the traditional business model of a Maintenance Repair and Operations company.

The leadership team knew that to maintain its dominant market position, the company would need to transform itself to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital era, explains Richard Jeffers. “We want to become much closer to our maintenance customers, the people in the factories who deliver the reliability strategy for those industries.”

“A key question for me is, how do we help those customers take advantage of recent technology developments amid the digital transformation in manufacturing? How to use data better to make better decisions, how to get that data faster, and how to use techniques such as machine learning and AI to get better and faster insight into that data?”

A partnership for a digital future

With a view to adopting those disruptive technologies, RS Components chose to build on an existing partnership with TCS to take its operations to the next level.

“It was important that we had a partner that really understood how to build solutions within a hyper-scale cloud service platform like Amazon Web Services,” says Jeffers. “We needed a partner who could really deploy the capabilities in that solution and turn it into a customer-facing platform.”

A new ecosystem to serve multiple industries

The platform to which Richard Jeffers refers to is RS Industria, a system that will help the company meet its objective of getting closer to its customers.

The industrial IoT platform brought the best of TCS’ Bringing life to Things IoT framework and AWS by deploying a full range of digital technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), AI, machine learning and augmented and virtual reality. “RS Industria is about helping businesses to take advantage of those innovations in digital technology to improve their maintenance organisations,” says Jeffers.

Commenting on the partnership that led to the development of the platform, Jeffers adds, “TCS has the capability and they’ve worked with us collaboratively throughout on the coding, the architecture, the DevOps and the support processes. I have never considered them to be a separate entity,” he says, underlining the success of a project built on shared beliefs and values.

RS Industria is still in the development phase and the collaboration will continue until the full product is launched and customers start using it.

“The next 12 months for us,” says Jeffers, “is about taking the learning from our original beta customers and feeding it back into the product and our business processes so that we can start to think about scaling up and really starting to move towards a commercially successful product.”