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Blog Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How to Meet FMCSA Compliance and Optimize Fleet Performance Too

Government regulations have been pushing the transportation industry to modernize in the interest of improved safety but getting compliant doesn’t have to be a costly headache.

In fact, thanks to mobile technologies, meeting the latest compliance requirements can also help trucking companies better manage their fleets and drivers, while dramatically improving delivery efficiency and performance.

Here are three major areas where compliance is optimizing fleet performance:

1. Telematics and GPS

Telematics have transformed fleet management, thanks to the ability to monitor and manage vehicle locations, performance, and driver behavior. Engine and vehicle data is collected automatically through sensors, while GPS provides location and positioning data.

Mobile technologies such as handheld computers and tablets connect to sensors and GPS data, enabling real-time logging and communications between drivers and fleet headquarters. Additional capabilities are also possible, including integration of cameras to verify and validate telematic indicators such as harsh acceleration, braking, and speeding.

A complete system yields data to help improve driver safety, fuel consumption, and vehicle performance. It also helps ensure smooth deliveries and compliance with the latest regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

To create a telematics and GPS system, our omniQ experts recommend a cradled ET50/55 enterprise tablet or TC70/75 handheld mobile computer from Zebra Technologies. Both devices can be cradled aboard a truck to capture black box and GPS data while providing Wi-Fi and cellular access for complete mobile tracking, monitoring, and communications.

Each device can be removed and used as a mobile computing device as well, so drivers or staff can log vehicle inspection reports, access routes, and capture proof of delivery. Pairing these devices with mobile printers also allows for fast and easy printing of delivery receipts, barcode labels, and invoices wherever and whenever they’re needed.

2. Routing and Scheduling

With fuel costs rising again, it’s more important than ever to use the most cost-effective and efficient delivery routes. Mobile technologies offer an easy way to ensure this by helping distribute dynamic up-to-the-minute route and scheduling information that helps minimize fuel consumption, meet tight delivery windows, and fulfill expedited delivery requests.

Additionally, mobile-enabled GPS can guide drivers along the most efficient routes in real time, providing up-to-the-minute audio or map-based turn-by-turn navigation assistance, ensuring on-time deliveries that enhance customer satisfaction.

It’s all easy and affordable to achieve with the right software and handheld mobile computers such Zebra’s TC20, TC51/56, and TC70/75 models. Through a single device that fits in the palm of their hand, drivers can access all the routing, scheduling, navigation, and other applications they need, plus voice, barcode capture, and photo capabilities.

omniQ’s Route Edge software is an enterprise-class solution for Proof of Delivery, Direct Store Delivery (including DEX), and sales management.  Route Edge leverages decades of industry knowledge and experience to improve the performance of field employees during the delivery, invoicing, and merchandising process. For more information on Route Edge, click here.

3. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Now that the FMCSA has mandated electronic logging through its ELD Rule, an electronic logging device (ELD) is necessary for fleet management, compliance, and driver safety.

An ELD is the electronic hardware that’s attached to a truck engine to monitor whether the engine is running and the vehicle is moving, along with miles driven, hours of service (HOS), and the duration of engine operation.

Zebra’s mobile computing solutions, such as the ET50/55, can serve as the central hub for ELD data while delivering the applications and connectivity to drive a complete ELD solution. As a cradled onboard mobile computer, the ET50/55 interfaces with engine sensors or a mobile device that collects and communicates ELD data by connecting with a vehicle’s black box.

Where to Learn More

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your trucking operations while ensuring FMCSA compliance, contact omniQ for a free consultation. Call 1-800-242-7272 or email us now.

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Field Sales and Delivery Manufacturing Mobility

IP Ratings: Does the Ruggedness of Your Devices Matter?

Factories, warehouses and field usage are challenging environments for technology. Mobile devices used in these types of applications should be rugged enough to withstand the extreme temperatures, shock, and exposure to dirt and moisture they will likely encounter.

A truly rugged mobile device has had its durability tested and certified by the manufacturer and, preferably, an independent third party. For the types of mobile devices found in warehouses or in field service applications, the most common measure of that ruggedness is the Ingress Protection or IP rating.

The IP rating classifies the degree of protection the device has against intrusion of solid objects (like dust particles) or liquid. The two-digit number expresses this ruggedization by combining the two ratings.

The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid foreign objects, and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust-tight; no ingress). The second digit indicates the protection the enclosure has against water, and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 7 (immersion up to 1m) or 8 (immersion beyond 1m).

The types of rugged computers used in enterprise applications typically have an IP rating ranging from IP64 to IP67. While there are IP68 rated devices available, it’s important to ask the manufacture the depth and length of time of the liquid immersion the device is protected against. Because the standard is not specific, the level of water protection for these devices can vary.

In addition to the IP testing, rugged devices are typically tested to withstand being dropped to concrete, shock, vibration, and other environmental factors. Some devices are built to operate in freezer environments, for example, or to safely operate in explosive environments.

For enterprise applications, particularly line-of-business solutions in the warehouse, factory or in the field, having a device that is rugged enough to withstand the wear and tear of the environment and use case is critical. You need a device that has been designed from inside and out to be reliable even in the harshest environments.   Simply having a case is not enough especially for the internal components.

Because they are built for enterprise applications, these devices can have a greater return on investment (ROI) than cheaper consumer-grade devices, even though they cost more. That’s because:

  • These rugged computers and mobile printers have much lower failure rates than consumer-grade devices. That means they last longer (in some use cases, many years), which reduces the replacement cost and ultimately lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the devices.
  • Rugged devices require less frequent repair and replacement, so they have a greater up-time and can improve end user productivity.
  • It takes longer to repair commercial/consumer-grade devices than it does to fix rugged devices, which means rugged computers and printers have shorter downtime even when they do fail.

In fact, an often-cited study by VDC Research found that companies using commercial-grade devices experienced failure rates that were almost double those of rugged device users. Nearly 35 percent of commercial devices were replaced within two years, compared to just two percent of rugged devices.

If you need mobile computers and printers for a mission-critical application – manufacturing, inventory management, field service, delivery, etc. – then those devices have to be built to last. Rugged devices that meet the required IP ratings and other environmental specifications can provide a faster ROI, increased productivity, and (long-term) lower costs than consumer devices. And they will do so for years to come.

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Data Interchange Energy Field Sales and Delivery Industry Solutions Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

3 Ways Technology Optimizes Productivity for Your Field Employees

Field employees — whether they are technicians, delivery drivers, route sales reps, or some combination of those jobs — are an extremely valuable and expensive part of your operation. If you don’t properly optimize their schedules or daily workloads, you can wind up with idle employees and equipment or find yourself over-hiring and investing in more routes or vehicles than you actually need.

Technology and planning can help you improve the efficiency of your field employees. That’s good for the company (you can log more jobs or sales without hiring additional employees) and also good for your field staff since they can spend more time earning money and less time driving from job to job.

Here are three examples of how technology can benefit your field operation:

Route Optimization: No matter how skilled your schedulers and dispatchers are, if they are still managing routes manually then your field employees are probably not working to their full potential. Manual routing is prone to human error.

By using an intelligent, automated routing and scheduling tool you can ensure that all routes are optimized based on your own efficiency/productivity goals. Route optimization tools can ensure that stops are organized to minimize time and distance, but within key customer time constraints and expectations.  Route optimization can also ensure that employees take the fastest route between stops, intelligently schedule pick-up/drop-off stops for delivery applications, and even schedule service technicians based on both location and skill set.

Modern route optimization solutions with real-time capabilities can even reroute employees based on traffic, weather, and road construction information. If a job is taking too long, the next stop can be automatically rerouted to another employee.

These features can keep the schedule on track, improve customer service, save fuel, and boost productivity — and routes can be optimized and communicated even before the shift begins.

Anticipate Customer Needs: Inventory management tools can help your delivery or route sales drivers arrive at each customer stop with the right merchandise and equipment on hand. New predictive analytics and forecasting tools can help sales operations forecast what their customers need before an order is placed or the driver arrives, which can help improve the efficiency of each stop.

In field service applications, sensors, automation, machine-to-machine interfaces, and cloud computing resources can help companies remotely diagnose (and in some cases repair) assets and equipment. By knowing what is wrong with a machine before they arrive to fix it, technicians can be sure to have the right tools and parts, which will improve both the first-time fix rate and overall productivity.

Leverage Technology on the Truck and in the Field: With mobile computers, GPS technology, and/or telematics solutions in your company vehicles you can further boost employee productivity.

By deploying automated delivery, inventory, or work order management solutions on mobile companies or tablets in the field, employees can quickly provide status updates, document their work, obtain customer signatures/payments, and close out work orders without time-consuming paperwork.

Combined with real-time wireless communications, these systems can also automatically update ERP, CRM, and route optimization solutions in real time. Managers and dispatchers can see the status of each job/stop and use that information to adjust the schedule if necessary.

GPS-based fleet tracking units on the truck can also update the location of each employee, time-stamp arrivals and departures to improve documentation/billing, and help automatically populate driver logs, hours of service documentation, or fuel tax forms, saving even more time for field employees.

The technology can also provide solutions for electronic logging devices (ELDs), hours of service (HOS) management, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), and other compliance and operations requirements.

With the right technology solutions in place to optimizing your routing and scheduling, anticipate the needs of each work order/customer, and track the progress and location of your staff and vehicles, you can greatly enhance both the efficiency and productivity of your field employees.

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Field Sales and Delivery Transportation and Logistics

Is Your Fleet Ready for the New ELD Mandate?

Toward the end of 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate which requires transportation companies to meet certain compliance standards. Commercial motor carriers and professional (CDL) truck drivers must keep a record of duty, and the ELD mandate stipulates that they also carry a device that electronically tracks and records their hours of service.

In order to ensure that compliance is met, all drivers must present this information log whenever requested by law enforcement. Due to this requirement, mobile printers have proven to be extremely valuable for drivers. Not only are mobile printers more efficient, but they also provide a great deal of convenience.

There are a number of things to consider when selecting the mobile printing component for your onboard logging system:

–  Compact in Size: Drivers do not have the space to deal with a bulky printer, and smaller printers are much easier to handle.
–  Printer Durability: Select a mobile printer that is rugged enough to handle the wear and tear of life on the road, as all truck drivers know, over-the-road travel can be hard on equipment.
–  Efficiency is Key: The transportation industry requires every process to be as efficient as possible, so your printer should be very easy to learn and use, and it should also work very quickly.

To learn more about the ELD mandate and other factors to consider when selecting a mobile printer, read the full blog from Brother Mobile Solutions here.

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Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How Predictive Sales Forecasting Benefits the Supply Chain

Nobody can predict the future, but thanks to some powerful software and the use of accurate automatic data capture technology, most companies can generate a pretty good idea of what their sales and inventory will look like in the days, weeks, and months ahead. With predictive sales forecasting, it’s possible to reduce excess inventories while also improving sales and streamlining supply chain operations.

Forecasting isn’t perfect, particularly the farther into the future you project, but it can help ensure that you have enough inventory in the supply chain to satisfy demand, but without increasing obsolescence or losses. Forecasting can help you avoid overestimated demand that leads to bloated inventory and high costs and underestimating demand that means customers won’t get the products they want.

Companies can generate better forecasts by using mobile computers, like Zebra Technologies’ TC51/TC56 or TC8000, and specialized software to collect and analyze data on sales, returns, stales, specific customer order histories, promotions, seasonal fluctuations, and other factors.

For companies that specialize in route delivery — particularly for direct store delivery applications where perishable goods may be involved — there are clear benefits for being able to let customers know their optimal inventory levels.

With historical data, companies can also predict times when there may be large swings in demand that would require more or less inventory. In turn, that can help avoid costly overstocks or out of stock situations that result in lost sales for both the supplier and the customer.

Doing so can help minimize stales or returns on a weekly basis. This, by itself, can justify implementation of more robust mobile route management systems.  Tying historical information to today’s detail stock position can provide much better dynamic planning.
For example, companies using mobile computers, barcode scanning, and a product like the omniQ Route Edge solution for field applications can use data gathered at the customer location to create these forecasts. Route Edge can eliminate errors in the field to help better manage inventory, returns, deliveries, and orders. Using customer information and sales history, the solution can help minimize returns and out of stocks by ensuring that companies provide the right level of products in the right amounts.

Reducing Risk

This predictive sales forecasting can improve sales and operations planning, and help various departments (sales, operations, planning, manufacturing, finance, etc.) work from a unified forecast. This helps increase revenue opportunities and reduces inefficiency.

This can result in a number of critical benefits in the supply chain.

–  Predictive sales forecasting can reduce risk by providing more accurate scenario planning. With forecasting software and data from the field, a company could predict the impact of a weather event or a new promotion on sales.

–  By identifying the factors that affect sales fluctuations, companies can do a better job of identifying customer needs and getting ahead of these spikes or dips in demand.

–  Marketers can greatly benefit from predictive sales forecasting. They can see the impact of a marketing campaign and use that to design better promotions, or identify specific time periods when a promotion might be most effective.  Price optimization is another benefit, since companies can better gauge when discounting can be used to reduce inventories without damaging their margins.

–  Predictive sales forecasting can also help improve the way companies approach product lifecycle management, because they can use historical data to identify when demand is likely to drop off.

Accurate forecasting reduces risk in the supply chain and helps keep inventories optimized for both you and your customers. By leveraging your delivery drivers and field force to gather accurate inventory data at customer sites, you can generate more accurate forecast — and reap the benefits of higher sales and reduced obsolescence.

 

 

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Barcode Custom Application Development Field Sales and Delivery RFID Hardware RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

High-Value Asset Management: The Best Methods for Tracking Your Equipment

Asset management is a challenge even when those assets are relatively static. For companies that utilize highly mobile and expensive assets (such as large trucks, shipping containers, expensive tools, etc.) the challenge is even greater. Assets and equipment are often deployed in the field for long stretches of time with little visibility. This makes it difficult to optimize asset utilization and also raises the risk of theft or loss.

There are a number of automatic identification technologies that can help provide real-time asset management capabilities in the field, but which type of technology is best will depend on the application and the environment.

Challenging Assets

Each industry has its own unique set of field assets and accompanying challenges:

Transportation/Logistics. Companies that manage large fleets of trucks, trailers, returnable shipping containers, and other equipment often lack visibility into exactly where these items are. This is especially true for containers or trailers that are dropped in customer yards. This makes it difficult to see how many are in circulation and where they are located. If there are dynamic changes in demand, it can be difficult to shift that supply, so companies purchase unnecessary containers to compensate.

Field Service. In addition to expensive vehicles, field service companies manage large inventories of expensive tools and other equipment that is stored on each technician’s truck. Technicians may need access to equipment held on another truck or at a depot, but that can be difficult to locate without proper asset management in place. In addition, equipment is vulnerable to loss or theft.

Delivery. Delivery companies often utilize reusable trays, crates, pallets and other containers that represent a significant capital investment. Being able to manage and optimize utilization of these assets can save money and streamline delivery operations. Customers sometimes steal or hoard these assets as well.

Healthcare. Mobile healthcare is a growing market. Workers in this space manage expensive assets and medical equipment (oxygen tanks, blood pressure monitors, infusion pumps, etc.) that must be returned and, in some cases, sterilized. Better asset management can improve patient safety and make it easier for employees to find critical equipment.

Real-Time Tracking Solutions

Automated solutions for asset management can help provide visibility in real time, but each approach offers different benefits (and potential drawbacks).

Barcodes. This is easily the least expensive way to manage field assets. This is a simple way to address tool or mobile asset tracking, for example, in field service or healthcare. Using mobile barcode readers, employees can simply scan a label to update asset status. However, this requires line of sight to complete the scan, and if a large number of items is involved it can be time consuming.

Passive RFID. Passive RFID can be used to automatically track assets in a facility or as they enter or leave the rear of a truck or pass through a dock door. Attached to returnable trays or containers, RFID can also help track inventory as it moves on and off delivery trucks and even track which customers received which containers. RFID is slightly more expensive than barcodes, but passive tags are a cost-effective method of tracking returnable items.

Active RFID. This type of RFID is more expensive. Often the tags are large and are attached to very expensive assets such as shipping containers or trailers. They have a longer range and can be integrated with other technology, like sensors or GPS, to provide real-time location data on items that are in motion.

Bluetooth Beacons. These systems are similar to active RFID, but are more commonly used inside warehouses or other facilities to track assets (both fixed and mobile). The technology allows companies to search for and find these assets within a facility using a map-based interface. The beacons can be placed on assets, and then broadcast their location wirelessly. Using a mobile device, employees can locate any beacon within range. The tags can also have other “smart” sensors for movement, vibration, temperature, GPS, and other measurements, especially important for tracking food or other assets that need stable environments.

RTLS (Real-Time Location) Systems. Some RTLS systems work with the above technologies, but some also work in conjunction with Wi-Fi technology. Leveraging an existing WLAN network, they can provide highly accurate location data on assets within a building or large vehicle.

By using real-time asset management technology, companies can better measure cycle times, improve asset utilization, and gain visibility into the status of their high-value assets. This can help reduce unnecessary asset purchases, and help identify potential operational improvements. With the wide variety of technology options available, there’s an asset management solution that is right for your company.

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Asset Management Custom Application Development Field Sales and Delivery RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

Developing a More Efficient Yard Management Strategy

Even with leading edge supply chain management tools, the trailer yard can be a black hole when it comes to inventory or asset visibility. Transportation management and warehouse management have improved operations prior to shipment arrival and after the goods are unloaded, but there is an efficiency and visibility gap between those two activities.

That’s where the yard management system (YMS) comes into play. Using these solutions can help you prioritize shipment arrivals, manage yard activity, improve efficiency, reduce unnecessary labor, and help track and identify trailer contents. These solutions are critical for developing a more efficient yard management strategy.

Here are some key steps to take to improve yard operations:

Develop a plan for improving yard management. Identify chokepoints in the facility. Find out which loads have been the most problematic to process, and investigate the reasons for those delays. If there are specific types of goods that require special handling (i.e., produce), outline what those needs are and what resources are required to successfully process those trailers.

Also, evaluate other processes that could be bogging down the yard. Returns management or other warehouse processes could be causing delays in the yard. Make sure you evaluate the incoming and outgoing processes that impact operations.
The project team should also set realistic goals and parameters for yard improvements. Establish allowable timeframes for trailer movement, and create an escalation process so that trailers that exceed those limits can be given priority.

Implement a YMS: A yard management system can also provide the visibility and downstream reporting that shippers need to keep their customers updated on shipment arrival and departure times.

Using a YMS helps better manage yard jockey activities because the system knows where each trailer is and where it needs to go. By improving the flow of trailers through the yard, shipments are unloaded on time and drivers don’t waste valuable minutes or hours waiting for their turn at the dock. Driver time can cost upwards of $50 an hour or more; by reducing the time spent checking in and unloading, companies can drive significant cost out of the supply chain and improve productivity.

It’s also important to minimize “lost” trailers in the yard. In large, busy yards it’s easy to lose track of any single trailer. By properly prioritizing and tracking those trailers, you can improve customer service while reducing the type of chaos that can result from manual processes. For large yards with a lot of dropped loads, a YMS can ensure you are properly tracking inventory, avoiding demurrage fees, and giving each shipment the correct priority based on its contents and customer requirements.

Evaluate your trailer yard layout. The yard should be divided into clearly marked zones (arrival, pick-up, empties, priority loads, repairs, etc.) so that drivers and jockeys can easily identify where they need to go. Just like in the warehouse, you should design the yard to limit moves and distances to gain efficiency.  A real-time intelligent YMS can direct the drivers to specific locations, and these locations can be validated via GPS to ensure trailer locations are accurate and up-to-date.

Improve dock scheduling processes. A dock scheduling system can help you better schedule labor capacity and develop a scheduling plan for the drivers that minimizes wait times, which will further improve yard management. Dock scheduling solutions can also help you measure loading/unloading times (for improvement purposes), record late arrivals, and devise scorecards to identify reliable suppliers and carriers.

Consider real-time location technology. Yard visibility can be greatly enhanced through the use of GPS and RFID technology. For example, the TrackX Yard solution combines RFID and GPS to automate yard operations, providing an ROI in 12 months or less. These solutions create a real-time location system in the yard that provides complete trailer visibility, which eliminates manual searches, reduces human error, and automates yard inventories. In addition, RFID can provide real-time information on the location of other yard assets, which helps optimize operations.

A more efficient yard management strategy can help eliminate expensive bottlenecks at the dock, and help you gain even more benefits from your existing supply chain and warehouse management solutions.

Contact omniQ for further information regarding optimizing your operations and trailer status visibility through a real-time Yard Management System.

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Field Sales and Delivery Manufacturing Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How to Optimize DSD Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industry

Operating under the direct store delivery (DSD) sales model can be challenging, especially for the food and beverage industry. Although you may have been reluctant in the past to invest in a new DSD solution, the gap between what your legacy system is capable of and what a new mobile solution can do to address your business challenges may lead you to the conclusion that it’s time for a change.

Food and beverage DSD is especially demanding because of the necessity to minimize the time limited-shelf-life products spend in the supply chain — not to mention the stiff competition you face. Upgrading your DSD solution can better position your company to operate more efficiently and competitively, but there are five things you must do to optimize a DSD solution for your specific business:

1. Put yourself in the driver’s seat.Before you make a technology purchase, it’s important to carefully examine your operational challenges and business needs. Make this list front of mind as you speak with your integrator or technology solutions provider. You are looking for a solution that addresses your unique business — not looking to purchase a solution and trying to make your business fit the technology.

2. Think outside the box.Your current solution may not offer all the features and functionality that next-gen solutions can offer your business — so also list capabilities you would like to gain through this upgrade. For example, food and beverage vendors are dealing with significant SKU proliferation and pressures from a very competitive market. Next-gen DSD solutions can help you put more emphasis on your sales and merchandising process, enabling you to upload video or market stats onto your sales reps’ tablets to enhance sales presentations and to collect market intelligence through surveys or shelf checks.

3. Eliminate siloes.Next-gen DSD solutions facilitate better communication and information sharing among all areas of your operation, including:

  • Pre-route tasks: Picking and packing, route planning, and load management
  • Transportation: GPS tracking, vehicle diagnostics, and customer alerts for delivery time
  • Delivery: RF or bar code scanning, proof of delivery, and shelf resets
  • Merchandising: Monitoring promotion compliance, competitor price checks, and consumer intercept surveys
  • Information access: Price lookup, inventory data, and customer account history
  • Sales: Client surveys, business intelligence, and data analytics to help target promotions
  • Payment: Signature capture and mobile payment

This data captured by your new DSD solution can help streamline your processes and provide real-time inventory, transportation, and account information. Make sure your new solution includes the necessary communications and wireless infrastructure upgrades needed to support reliable, secure data transmission.

4. Save time.Most likely, controlling labor costs is one of your priorities. DSD operators can slash the time it takes to perform manual administrative tasks with automated scheduling, tracking, data analysis, and reporting provided by your new DSD solution. Look for a solution that addresses your most time-consuming tasks.

5. Keep your options open.Many legacy DSD systems use rugged handheld devices running Windows Embedded. Your options now include DSD systems hosted in the cloud and running iOS or Android applications on a variety of tablets and other mobile devices. Not only are there more options for an operating system, the mobile market continues to evolve. Instead of making an investment in a solution designed to run one operating system, consider cross-platform options that will allow you to switch to different applications without replacing hardware.

The opportunities for productivity gains in the food and beverage industry through the use of DSD can be remarkable. The functionality new DSD solutions provide far surpasses what legacy systems can accomplish. Among you and your top competitors, which will be the first to have this advantage?

Categories
Data Interchange Energy Field Sales and Delivery

What is the Secret to Providing Better Field Service Support?

For field service organizations, meeting service level agreement (SLA) requirements and delivering excellent support are critical for maintaining customer loyalty and profitability. How do you get there? The key to providing better field service support for both your customers and your technicians is mobility.

Armed with a mobile computer and a real-time wireless connection to the enterprise, your technicians can more effectively complete their work at the point of activity without costly return trips to the depot. By empowering your field technicians with mobile data, you can help them provide better, faster customer service and increase profitability.

With field service management software and mobile computers, you can provide technicians with complete details of every work order, including customer information, equipment service history, trouble ticket details, and other information that will help ensure they arrive on site with all of the information necessary to complete the repair correctly on the first visit.

Mobile technology can improve field service support in a number of ways:

Improved Efficiency: Electronically communicating with technicians and providing them with the ability to document their work will make them more efficient. You can eliminate paperwork and phone calls, along with unnecessary trips to the depot for parts, and more jobs can be completed on first visit. Improved efficiency will also empower technicians to complete more service calls per day.

On-the-Fly Scheduling: With an advanced field service solution, you can know right away if a technician is unable to accept a new work order, or is in danger of being late for the next call because of unexpected complications. Jobs can automatically be re-routed to other available technicians, guaranteeing you can meet all service level agreement (SLA) obligations.

Technical Support: Mobility improves field service support for your employees. If a technician needs assistance or additional information for a repair, they no longer have to make phone calls or consult bulky paper manuals; technical data and diagrams can be accessed via the mobile device. They can also consult with other technicians using their computers, and even share photos or videos of the problem with more experienced colleagues.

Inventory Management: Having the right parts on hand to complete a repair is critical for meeting your service level and first-time-fix goals. Using a mobile device to track on-truck inventory and log new inventory transfers at the depot will give you a real-time view of what parts are available. Technicians can use their mobile computers to order parts or arrange technician-to-technician parts transfers in the field.

Better Management of Third-Party Resources: If you need to outsource some portion of your field support operation based on geography or technician expertise, a mobile field service solution can help you maintain control and visibility over the customer experience. Equipping third-party providers with the same mobile functionality ensures a consistent customer service experience, and provides insight that can help you better measure the performance of technicians.

With a mobile field service management solution, your technicians will arrive on site at the right time with the right parts and knowledge to complete the job. Your customers receive accurate, timely support, which minimizes their downtime and costs. Your technicians can access the information and parts they need to do their jobs effectively. By providing enhanced field service support to your customers and employees, your company can improve customer loyalty and profitability.

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Barcode Field Sales and Delivery Route Accounting Services/Repair

Can Presales and Merchandising Solutions Improve Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, the success of a direct store delivery (DSD) operation is typically gauged by timeliness, order accuracy, and the DSD company’s ability to reduce both out-of-stocks and shrink/spoilage or returns.

But DSD companies may be missing an opportunity if they aren’t leveraging presales and merchandising solutions to boost performance with their customers.

Presales and merchandising aren’t just informal fishing expeditions. The presales process should be as well documented as the final sales transaction so that companies can get a better idea of what is and isn’t working in the field. On the merchandising side, data about promotions can help identify new sales opportunities and improve inventory accuracy.

More importantly, managers can glean valuable real-time data on customer purchasing patterns as well as promotions effectiveness through these efforts. Using presales and merchandising solutions can be an important tool to help improve customer relationships by offering more informed sales offerings.

Presales generally includes a number of activities, including a discovery process in which the sales rep learns more about the customer’s requirements or problems, developing tailored presentations about new products and coming up with prices or a formal sales proposal for the customer. In a retail store, all of these steps can happen in a matter of minutes after the sales rep spots an opportunity.

For example, a sales rep or delivery driver might notice that a customer is out of stock for a competing or ancillary product, or might take note that inventories related to an upcoming promotion are unusually low.

Presales and marketing solutions should include the ability for the DSD driver to capture pricing of competitive products, provide sales analytics for the customer that can be viewed right at the retail location, provide data that can better position your company to capture new sales through competitive service and pricing, and allow reps to generate dynamic sales proposals in the store.

Using a rugged mobile computer, sales reps can scan and capture competitive pricing information, manage shelf inventory, and take pictures of merchandising displays to ensure store compliance. With the right technology in hand, sales reps can easily access and share critical information about promotions, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and make sure inventory is aligned with marketing initiatives.

With an automated presales and merchandising solution, reps can access customer information and purchasing history to help guide add-on sales of products they may be running low on. If they see a competitive product on the shelf, they can find out if there are any promotions or discounts available to possibly get the customer to switch vendors.

All of this can create better overall service by helping the customer understand how they can boost sales in certain categories, get a better price on merchandise, and avoid being out of stock in fast-moving SKUs.

Your retail customers are thirsty for information that can help them increase their margins. By leveraging presales and merchandising solutions, you can help them make the right decisions about inventory and promotions and establish yourself as a trusted partner whose products will take priority on the shelf.