In a world of growing demand and declining revenues, telecoms network operators are making no secret of their need to control costs. It is perhaps surprising then that many are losing money due to inefficient tracking of network assets.

"Many of our customers don't know what they have where in the U.K.," said Jon Magson, business development director at ByBox Field Support, at the Network Management Show in London this week.

ByBox is a U.K. supply chain management company that uses a network of what it describes as intelligent locker boxes to help telcos manage equipment inventory and distribution. Essentially, its system gets network kit closer to field engineers and facilitates the return of equipment to suppliers if necessary, tracking the location of said equipment all the while.

"Telecoms equipment is very expensive. You don't want to lose it. You want to have control of it," Magson said. "You have got to track where the equipment is at all times."

ByBox works with a number of telecoms operators in the U.K., including Vodafone.

One of the firm's major customers has hundreds of millions of pounds worth of inventory, Magson said without naming names. "We've helped to reduce that by about 40%," he said. On balance, it can cut 30%-50% from inventory costs.

The company also claims to be able to save a telco "in the region of 35% on their opex," Magson said.

One of the ways ByBox reduces costs is by "getting the parts really close to the engineer," Magson noted, explaining that its U.K. footprint of 2,000 lockers means its average distance from an engineer's home is just 2.9 miles.

It also cuts out warehousing, which it describes as "a cost where there's no added value," by collecting direct from suppliers. And it also reduces the bill by delivering overnight rather than undertaking expensive same-day journeys.

"We have helped a lot of our customers drastically reduce their costs," Magson claimed.