Steve Denison, managing director for APD Communications says: “With any mobile data solution it is important to remember that there are also cultural considerations that have to be met.
The mobile data solution any organisation wants to deploy will have considerable consequences for many people who are all stakeholders in the new system. Without any doubt, the easiest way to get stakeholder acceptance of any new system, process or procedure, is to involve them in the implementation.”
He said that the most successful projects have always been those that include input from relevant stakeholders in the decision making process.
Mobile workers themselves are the only ones that know what really happens out there on the job, so they become stakeholders in the choice of terminal equipment and design of the software user interface.
One such technology that is likely to see a large rise in use, as a result of the legislation is mobile data and vehicle location, particularly as once implemented, organisations can see a sharp rise in efficiency and reduction of costs.
“Technological improvements in location technology, wireless networks, seamless trans-European interaction will further enhance the mobile data solutions, and with the market maturing, the business cases are becoming better understood.”
Neil Kelly, a director at Minorplanet Systems argues that mobile technology is the next step in the area of vehicle management.
“As companies who invest time and money into managing their fleets continually face new challenges, increased demands and fast-evolving industries, the need for new and improved products to help meet these challenges is vital.
“In-cab mobile technology is a crucial area of improvement within the telematics and logistics industry at the moment. Any products and systems that not only help companies monitor its fleets better, but help the drivers to become more efficient will be an essential tool to improve a business.”
Minorplanet has released its latest product VMI Location Link, which is an extension of their current vehicle management information system.
VMI Location Link, provides a link from locations such as depots directly to the TomTom Go navigation device.
The VMI Location Link enables location information to be displayed and uploaded in-vehicle. Customers can plan routes prior, or drivers can insert new locations en route.
Offiscope says it believes businesses that persist with the outdated method of issuing paper Proof of Delivery POD risk being left behind by their competitors.
A POD note authenticates whether goods have been delivered, the address they were delivered to, time and records the signature of the person receiving the goods.
However, such documents often need to be readily available, usually at short notice, and while the manual collection, processing, filing and storing of POD copies is expensive – often accounting for a substantial proportion of a company’s operating costs – the most concerning issue is the risk of losing a POD note.
A robust and efficient electronic POD system can lead to a company gaining significant business advantages over its competitors including improved delivery accuracy, real-time availability of delivery information, the transition to a paperless environment and the significant reduction in back office overheads.
According to Offiscope, companies which adopt an electronic POD system offer existing and potential customers a higher level of service, while those that opt for the more traditional approach risk being unable to deal with customer queries efficiently.
Lawrence Hill, senior manager at Remploy Offiscope, said: “In today’s commercial climate, contracts are often based on the understanding that you get paid for what you deliver – or more specifically, what you can prove that you have delivered.
“Just one missing POD note can take hours to find, copy and fax or e-mail to someone who wants an answer now. This could create tension between your staff and your customer or lead to delayed or non payment.
“Proof of Delivery documents are scanned and indexed, and as a result, an exact copy of the POD, with the customer’s signature, becomes available for access and retrieval to verify that goods were received and accepted. Queries can therefore be dealt with promptly and efficiently.”
New on the market
Codegate, has launched MobileCourier, a software solution designed to improve field force management and the flow of information.
Codegate says that the MobileCourier enables users to have instant access to the most up-to-date information, boosting productivity while reducing costs and saving time.
The solution can also manage a diverse array of events, including dispatching, recording items collected or arriving at the depot, preparing the delivery manifest; recording delivery and recording vehicle-to-vehicle transfers.
When used with image-capture technology, MobileCourier enables visual information such as photographs of damaged goods or the front doors of “no one home” deliveries, to be captured to help prove that agreed service levels are being met or exceeded.
MobileCourier can be used on a range of handheld data capture devices, including units such as the Dolphin family of mobile computers from Hand Held Products.
Two of the company’s latest models are the Dolphin 7900 and the Dolphin 9500.
These two devices are both feature-rich and packed with technology, and offer industry-leading levels of performance.
Some of the features available with mobilecourier include a job dispatch system; text messaging; proof of delivery; bar code and RFID scanning; time tracking; equipment, distance and fuel tracking; navigation; pre-run survey; and Service Level Agreement management.
Adam Dykman, Codegate’s managing director says: “MobileCourier is designed to deliver the goods! It can make a significant difference to the effectiveness and efficiency of logistical operations.”
Belgravium has added a GPS location capability to its Atlanta 8000 mobile computer.
The new system, which is equipped with an optional 12-channel GPS receiver and SiRFstarII chipset, is capable of tracking twelve satellites at once. Belgravium says this allows for fast time-to-first-fix and one second navigation updates.
The unit’s specification meets the sensitivity requirements of car navigation as well as other location-based applications such as marine navigation, fleet management and personal positioning & navigation. An in-vehicle cradle is available, specifically designed to support mobile GPS communications.
Belgravium is offering a number of communication options, namely USB client, RS232 serial and GPS external antenna interfaces.
A securely fixed, non-removable power cable is integrated into the cradle, which terminates with a standard cigarette lighter plug.
The cradle is suitable for mounting in any conceivable vehicle situation via a ball jointed fixture.
Belgravium says that ‘TomTom’ is its preferred GPS software option for installation on the Atlanta 8000 because of its; simple touch screen operation, user-friendly interface and the fact that it offers a dynamic status bar that can be adjusted to personal preferences setting “estimate time of arrival” and “route duration”.
Psion Teklogix and Tagsys, the company involved in item-level RFID infrastructure, have announced that they are collaborating to offer portable RFID terminals designed for the distribution and logistics industries.
Combining their knowledge in data capture and RFID, Psion Teklogix and Tagsys will integrate Tagsys’ RFID OEM modules into a selection of Psion Teklogix’s hand-held terminals, including the Workabout Pro.
The combination of Tagsys RFID technology and Psion Teklogix’s mobile computing make for a rugged, fully-integrated product range of mobile hand-held RFID readers combined with scanning, imaging and wireless communication options.
Elie Simon, chief executive of Tagsys, says: “The adoption of item-level RFID is accelerating rapidly as the technology matures and industry applications are delivered that are easily integrated into existing supply chain processes and that are cost-effective.”
“Tagsys’ partnership with Psion Teklogix is the coupling of two best of breed providers to offer the logistics industry with flexible and proven products that leverage the power of mobility and RFID to increase efficiencies throughout.”
This offering targets the needs of the logistics and distribution industry, from warehousing to transport companies. It is also very well adapted for use in industries like pharmaceutical and fashion textile where handheld readers allow for efficient and effective touch points for item-level RFID throughout the supply chain.
US-based MobileDataforce is launching the HP iPAQ hw6940 Mobile Messenger series later this summer.
Chief executive Kevin Benedict says: “This handheld PDA from HP is designed for moving data between the enterprise and the mobile field worker.”
The company says that the advantage of the HW6940 over a Blackberry is the ability to hold large amounts of enterprise data, and full functional relational database applications on them.”
The new version of the Mobile Document Output System (MDOS), Content Beamer for Blackberry, turns Blackberry handhelds into mobile offices for drivers, management and sales executives.
More and more logistics companies are equipping their cabs with an email capable mobile device (Blackberry), a simple portable bluetooth printer and the Content Beamer software. This enables drivers to receive transport documents, delivery lists, delivery papers and invoices by email and print them out while on the road.
Time consuming queues at the service station fax machine are a thing of the past, and so is the time lost due to stationary trucks and unnecessary phone calls between drivers and the head office.
Content Beamer for BlackBerry 2.5, will be available this month. Users will not only be able to print attachments in original format on Bluetooth or network printers but also send them to fax machines.
The technical principle is always the same: using the handheld device, the print job for the respective document is generated on the server. It is highly compressed before being streamed to the BlackBerry where it is redirected to the desired printer, fax machine or laptop.
The original document remains on the server since there is no need to download it, and the connection costs are extremely low thanks to the high compression of the transferred data. There are no restrictions on document format.
Vango is the latest user-configurable product in i2 Mobile Solutions’ portfolio, was launched at this year’s Logistics Link South 2006.
i2 says: “Gone will be grubby delivery notes, dog-eared invoices and receipts, time-consuming stock reconciliation and reports, replaced forever by a Microsoft Windows ce.net-based mobile computing solution.” Among the system’s features is the ability to store a customer’s order history, it can also process pricing and discount data, enabling the user to determine discounts by product group, by individual product or by customer.
US win for Microlise
Microlise America has been awarded a £285,000 contract for the implementation of a real-time mobile logistics solution to the delivery fleet of Restaurant Technologies.
The system is designed to deliver major improvements in delivery and billing by eliminating paperwork and duplicate data entry, allowing instant issue of accurate invoices for products at the point of delivery.
It will use Symbol mobile data terminals and Zebra printers in 100 delivery vehicles operating from 30 depots across North America. It incorporates real time proof of delivery processing and real time invoicing.
In addition, it will provide drivers with last mile satellite navigation and monitor driver location and performance using GPS and other telematic data.
Shane Grutsch, vice president of supply chain at Restaurant Technologies, says: “The contract, which has been planned for delivery in 3 phases, represents an exciting development for our company and, more importantly, our customers.
Each phase of the technology will deliver significant operational benefits and improvements in customer service.”
Richard Bissonnette, president of Microlise America, said: “We are proud to have been selected by Restaurant Technologies for the delivery of this major contract and are confident that it will deliver significant business benefits throughout their operations”.
Get rugged with Falcon
PSC has developed the Falcon 4400 Series mobile computers to be rugged, flexible, and easy to use. It combines a handheld wireless computing device with a barcode scanner to provide warehouse and supply chain staff with on-time information to facilitate moving the right product to the right place.
It the Intel XScale microprocessor architecture and is ruggedised to ensure reliable performance, despite the rough environment. It is tested to survive multiple drops (1.5M/5ft) to concrete, an occurrence that often happens in a fast-paced warehouse facility.
The IEEE 802.11g standard for wireless local area networking is supported.
The Falcon 4400 is now available with Windows Mobile or Windows CE.