The Challenge Faced
Solution Overview - Advanced Mobile Computing Platform To Track And Trace Delivery Assets.
Within its in-store operations Musgraves was already using Zebra handheld computers installed and managed by Peak Technologies. The devices were working well and Peak Technologies was selected by Musgrave to help with the new project. “We were delighted to become involved,” says Robert Jones, Managing Director, Peak Technologies. “As an Irish company we were very proud to work with Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, one of the country’s most respected businesses, with this high profile mobile computing project.”
Peak Technologies supported Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland to deploy the Zebra MC75A EDA. The rugged devices provide the key features to support Musgrave applications including an integrated bar-code scanner, GPS, camera, and voice capabilities. Also, feedback from other users was positive as Stephen Bennett describes: “Aside from identifying a number of USPs that matched our requirements, our retail partners gave great feedback about the Zebra devices used within their stores. Following a detailed and comprehensive selection process we decided to deploy the MC75A which looked tailor-made to our needs.”
Peak Technologies provides a complete service for the computers. It is responsible for the MC75A’s software, the training of end-users and the maintenance and management of the device estate, providing a help desk for users to report issues. To cost-efficiently manage the devices, Peak Technologies uses the Zebra Mobility Services Platform. When users dock their MC75As in the charging cradle, it enables Peak Technologies to remotely connect with the devices to monitor their status, diagnose any problems and update software. Should there be any unresolvable problems with an EDA, this is swapped out the next day through Zebra Service From the Start support package.
The technology is improving performance across operations. Drivers collect electronic Proof of Delivery (ePoD) with the record immediately updated in back-office systems. The MC75A’s GPS capability optimizes route planning. Drivers can use the computers to log time sheets eliminating paper. In addition, Musgraves is asset tracking the many thousands of metal ‘combies’ (metal delivery crates) and potato bins used to pick up goods from food manufacturers and deliver stock to its retail partners. As a result, losses of containers have been significantly reduced – cost savings that, in the first year, are delivering a significant return on investment.
“As one of Ireland’s most respected companies, we continually seek to enhance business performance and drive efficiencies. We recently deployed a mobile computing platform based on Zebra MC75 Enterprise Digital Assistants. The MC75As are prepared, deployed and maintained by specialists in data capture, Peak Technologies. As with any major IT deployment, we had some teething issues. But the support, professionalism and attention to detail of Peak Technologies and Zebra ensured problems were resolved quickly. We are delighted with the technology. The initial focus of the project – to use bar-code labelling to track, trace and ensure the safe return of our delivery containers – is providing a great return on investment. We are also achieving efficiency and accuracy benefits by using the technology to collect electronic Proof of Delivery, optimize fleet utilization and route guidance, and automate reporting and eliminate paper trials.” said Stephen Bennett, Supply Chain Systems Manager of Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland.
Return On Investment
A key reason behind the move to mobile computing was to allow Musgrave to track and trace delivery containers used to pick up goods from suppliers and deliver products to retailers. “The containers are labelled with bar codes and whenever a unit departs our warehouse, arrives at a supplier or retailer and is returned to us, the label is scanned using the MC75A by the driver. So we can track units as they move within our estate and across the supply chain,” says Stephen Bennett.
Musgrave owns thousands of the expensive containers thanks to the tracking system it has now implemented a deposit mechanism, whereby funds are credited back once containers are safely returned by retail partners and suppliers. Consequently, losses of containers have been significantly reduced.
The technology is delivering improvements across other areas of the logistics operation. Musgraves has introduced ePoD for customers to sign for goods using the MC75A. The details of who signed for deliveries and when are immediately available to the business. Drivers can use the computers to fill in time sheets with the details automatically interfaced to internal systems to significantly reduce paper trails. Drivers can also make calls with the MC75A and are benefiting from enhanced route planning.This is achieved using the MC75A’s GPS capability connected to a BING mapping application and, with a realtime view of vehicle resources, the team can better respond to customer requests.
“The MRPI Supply Chain IT team, Peak Technologies and Zebra have delivered a mobile computing platform that is enhancing fleet efficiency, cutting administration, improving customer service, and significantly reducing costs. And with the service and support contract provided by Peak Technologies we have a clear view of the cost of our device estate over its life cycle. Colleagues elsewhere in our business in Great Britain are evaluating the technology which underlines the significant degree of satisfaction that we have in the platform.” said Stephen Bennett, Supply Chain Systems Manager of Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland.
Musgrave Retail Partners provides services to entrepreneurial retailers in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Spain, including grocery distribution and advanced systems for sales, marketing, IT, finance and logistics. It runs over 3,300 stores under retail brands that include household names SuperValu and Centra. In 2009 Musgrave was named one of Ireland’s best-run companies in the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards.
As part of its ‘Better Business Project’ – a major investment to improve key areas of its business – Musgraves deployed a mobile computing platform to advance logistics operations. It asked Peak Technologies, specialists in data capture technology, to help prepare and support a core component of the system – the handheld computers used by the logistics team and delivery drivers. Musgrave selected Zebra MC75A Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDAs) and Peak Technologies supported the implementation and deployment of the system throughout the Island of Ireland.
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