Friday 17th Aug 2018 - Logistics Manager Magazine

Winning ways

Cecchetto Import AG of Bulach, Switzerland has been the exclusive European importer for Lavazza Espresso Point Systems and their products since 1986.

The firm’s core business is marketing Lavazza coffee makers that feature a lifelong warranty that includes free maintenance and servicing. Coffee makers are supplied free of charge: the customer pays only for the packages of coffee that are purchased and used. The company’s 80 employees keep the coffee flowing for 320,000 customers and 50,000 coffee makers in coffee bars, restaurants, offices and homes throughout Europe. Cecchetto Espresso Systems is a distribution company with its headquarters in Bulach, a subsidiary in Reinach, and an efficient network of regional customer representatives.

The growing complexity of Cecchetto’s market network, particularly over the past six years, led the company to realise an efficient logistics infrastructure was essential to maintain a competitive edge. Thus it invested heavily in warehousing and computer technology. Known as the mLogistics programme, implementation of this has involved the introduction of logistics systems based on smart mobile phones. This has opened up new horizons for Cecchetto in terms of business processes, successfully combining conventional and information-based logistics.

Service data
Sixteen mobile customer representatives/ technicians, each with GSM online terminal units, service approximately 6400 customers every month, travelling a combined total of 23,560 miles (38,000 km). This has eliminated the need for conventional ordering systems such as fax, mail and email. The devices can be operated with one hand and all service data such as servicing, orders, maintenance, and newly installed units, is entered and stored directly in the ERP system to be integrated within distribution planning and control processes.

The combination of a customer and process-oriented online POS system and an integrated computerised and logistics system allows for problem-free and flexible capacity planning, particularly when it comes to expanding the company’s core business. Cecchetto plans to introduce additional services and to market this now-proven technology.

Collaboration with relevant partners is well advanced. Efficient logistics that deliver an almost 100 per cent service level at a reasonable cost have become a decisive customer loyalty and satisfaction factor for the business.

The European Logistics Association (ELA) is pleased to give the European Award for Logistics Excellence 2004 to Cecchetto for devising and implementing its innovative mLogistics programme in a manner that demonstrates the highest practical relevance for the European service sector, where reliability and availability are indispensable.

Product concept
The service concept Renato Cecchetto developed for Lavazza Espresso Point systems is as unique as the coffee. With an unlimited warranty and free maintenance and repairs, customers are spared hassle. The coffee machines are provided free of charge by Cecchetto Espresso Systems and users have only to buy product capsules. 

In order to structure, monitor and optimise business processes efficiently for field-service employees (mobile branch), an architecture was created which integrates conventional systems on the one hand, and synthesises business processes as meta processes on the other. 

A study was carried out on the development of mobile equipment and an analysis was performed on the development of telecommunication technologies. This revealed many mobile solutions are hardware-dependent and difficult to interface with other portable computers. On the basis of this, the Sony Ericsson P800 was chosen. This is the first mobile phone to support the Java MIDP standard. The solution was based on this standard to slash hardware investment costs and to make the software portable. Using this technology, LogObject AG in Zurich managed to transform the investment in mobile hardware into running costs. Cecchetto is now equipped with a solution that can constantly be upgraded to the latest technology without the need for reinvestment; the cost of standard smartphones is so low that Cecchetto can use a new one any time, and coexistence is guaranteed. Using smartphones as a mobile platform also enables wireless connections to be established between dedicated devices and the platform (via Bluetooth): bar code scanners, printers, GPS receivers, etc. This means the platform can be expanded in any configuration. 

The use of smartphones also helped resolve the problem of the autonomy of mobile computers. Phones have much longer autonomy, which means that there is no need for any additional infrastructure in the vehicles.

Much importance was placed on the ergonomics of the mobile solution. The field-service employees are equipped with a smartphone for performing all their business processes and to use for phone calls. In other words, technicians are not burdened with additional equipment. This helps boost the acceptance of the solution drastically and also optimises introduction time and staff training outlay. New members of staff can be trained up in a matter of a hours. 

Mobile solution
The mobile solution is purely online. This means there is no data resident on the phone. By opting for this architecture, the requirements for the smartphones were simplified significantly (for example, there is no need to increase the memory). If a phone breaks, a field-service employee can buy another in the next shop, insert his SIM card and download a little software. He can be back at work without any loss of data in just a few minutes.

The mobile solution has been designed to enable the applications to be operated with one hand. This was made possible by suitable design of the user interface (with ‘select’ instead of ‘enter’) and by the ergonomic properties of the phones.

The state-of-the-art logistics IT environment has become a central pillar in the growth the firm is striving to achieve, safeguarding the quality of service for which it is almost legendary.

Armed with the tool described above, the field service technician no longer has to drive to head office first thing each morning to pick up his orders and the items that he will need for them. Technicians are recruited locally, ie the person responsible for the Western Switzerland territory also lives there.

The vehicles supplied to the technicians are equipped as mobile stores, giving the technicians access not only to the range of spare parts and spare machines, but also to a substantial stock of products. The stock of products is designed to suit the needs of the local region.

Online data transmission enables top-up stock to be ordered. It is then supplied accordingly. The goods provided are collected by Swiss-Post-Net in the evening and distributed to the appropriate Cecchetto vehicles overnight.

Needless to say, Swiss-Post-Net knows where the vehicles are kept and has a key to open them and stow the goods. All the technician has to do next morning is pack away the goods that have been delivered overnight, start his smartphone and drive to the first customer.

Following the processes
The call centre receives orders via the ERP system. The following categories of orders are processed:

Customer orders  The customer orders consumables. The goods in question are delivered either indirectly or directly. If the delivery takes place indirectly, the order is forwarded via the dispatcher to the SCS, where the goods are picked, labelled and made ready for shipping. Feedback indicating that the goods have been delivered prompts the generation of the delivery documentation and invoice in the ERP system.

Direct deliveries are signalled to the delivery route planning system. The delivery routes are configured periodically. The system knows at this stage which vehicle can deliver. The orders are forwarded to the storage control system as stock movements from the central store to the vehicle. Consequently, picking is a two-stage procedure: stage one happens in the store, where the entire stock required for a vehicle is picked; stage two is performed by the field-service employee directly with the customer. 

Repair/maintenance/installation  These orders are always executed directly. The orders are forwarded to the delivery route planning system, which decides which field-service employees take on the orders. In the case of installations, the coffee machine requirements are ascertained and provided in the store.

Mobile store  Each vehicle is managed in the SCS as a separate storage location, i.e. as an order-picking site. Spare parts, machines and AA items are replenished by the SCS via the order point process. This process has served to optimise the internal picking procedure dramatically because it has done away with order-picking for direct delivery, spare parts and machines.

Inward stock movements to these storage sites occur through confirmation of the picking processes in the central store. The goods provided can be collected by the fieldservice employee directly from the loading ramp or be delivered straight to the vehicles via an overnight service, which saves the field-service employee having to drive to the central store.