Spirited away

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[asset_ref id=”941″]NYK Logistics has increased traceability within its supply chain after enlisting Spirit Data Capture to help it collect and manipulate delivery data more effectively, resulting in reduced losses and saved money.

NYK provides logistics services to a range of clients across the automotive, consumer electronics, healthcare, manufacturing and retail sectors and was keen to find a flexible system that would gather electronic point of delivery information. It also wanted to be able to feed this data back into its route status board to provide full visibility of deliveries.

Because of the varying needs of its clients, NYK needed a highly configurable generic system that could meet all present and future needs.

In the first instance, the system had to be able to verify the serial number of a product at the point of delivery to ensure that the right items were going to the right customers, but the company also needed visibility of any returns, including the serial numbers.

Martin Shield, head of IT support services at NYK Logistics UK, says: “Our existing solution wasn’t sufficiently versatile to meet all of our requirements, so we started looking for an alternative. We needed a device that could provide data dynamically, in real time. It had to be capable of recording information accurately and verifying it against uploaded information. Despite this high degree of versatility, it also needed to be simple to use and intuitive.”

Spirit Data Capture was chosen to provide a full hardware and software solution; it recommended the Motorola MC75 Worldwide Enterprise Digital Assistant.

Shield says: “Spirit offered NYK the use of its devices and also offered alternatives to the MC75. However, we already use a large number of Motorola wireless hand-held devices in our 32 warehouses.”

The mobile computer provides simultaneous voice, data and GPS services, including sensitivity and tracking capabilities. It has an integral barcode scanner and a high resolution colour camera, combined with 3G wireless WAN, wireless LAN, wireless PAN and IrDA connectivity.

Spirit provided a complete service, including specifying, writing and testing the software application that would be used on the Motorola devices,  as well as offering a comprehensive    service contract.

The application on the MC75 is now being used for a range of tasks, including uploading route information to the device while at the base, via ActiveSync, Ethernet, WiFi or GPRS. Details of the driver and the route are verified by a PIN number and the application then provides the driver with details of delivery and collection points.

While en route, the MC75 transmits GPS positions to NYK’s transport management system, which automatically updates the company’s route status board.

At the point of delivery, the time and the GPS location are captured, the delivery items are scanned and the serial number of the product is validated. In the event of a failed delivery, notes can be made and pictures taken using the built-in camera.

When the driver returns to the depot, any returns can be tracked and scanned into the warehouse.

The devices “have increased the efficiency of our operations by eliminating many manual processes and reducing the amount of administration needed,” says Shield. “They have also provided us with greater traceability of items, which has reduced our losses, saving us money. Overall, the units have enhanced our supply chain visibility – both internally and externally, as clients can track the progress of items over the web.

“On the technical side, the MC75s are able to communicate with our systems over WiFi when they are being used in the office and we can automatically switch over to GPRS when the drivers are on the road. The drivers’ early involvement in the design phase of the application was crucial to the success of the project and some early scepticism from a very small minority was soon overcome when they started to use the devices.”

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