Five benefits of using mobile technology in the supply chain

The speed of information access can be a key determinant of a company’s success, and the supply chain is the most critical area in need of speed.

Many companies have turned to mobile PCs to provide the full functionality of their business systems without the limitations of smaller devices. Here are five of the most important benefits mobile technology can provide to improve supply chain visibility and insight:

1. Manage the mobile worker efficiently. Installing mobile PCs in service vehicles can improve performance when using GPS for accurately tracking the vehicle’s location. The PCs can help the driver plan the most efficient route, and even provide insight into traffic conditions or detours to suggest faster routes and prevent traffic delays. Rather than start the day with a defined dispatch list, drivers can receive routing in real time, during their workday — taking into account the location of the truck, the technician’s skill set, inventory availability, and the urgency of the service call. Not only does this enhance technician utilisation, it also improves customer satisfaction because of faster emergency response times.

2. Capture warranty and service costs. Once the technician is on site at a service call, using a mobile PC to record time and materials helps improve accuracy. The tech is less likely to forget about parts used, so warranty cost analysis or service invoices will be more accurate. Since the inventory usage information is entered immediately on site, there is less lag between the completion of the call and the invoice generation for billable services, enhancing cash flow. In addition, the customer can sign off the service order right away, eliminating disputes over billable hours or materials.

3. Manage fuel consumption and taxes. Using a mobile PC to record mileage or fuel purchases helps improve accuracy since the driver is less likely to forget. That means better cost analysis, including capture of gas taxes. Keeping close track of mileage can help with scheduling fleet maintenance as well, so vehicles will be better maintained and less apt to break down.

4. Re-usable container management. Recycling packing materials and re-usable containers are great ways to reduce environmental impact and run a greener operation. Using mobile PCs helps you track the dwell time, location and condition of re-usable packaging materials — enabling you to plan replacement cycles more effectively. Re-usable packaging is greener, more efficient and very cost effective.

5. Better customer service. Using a mobile PC helps you to track the technician’s arrival time more closely, so you can help your customers plan their days more effectively. Customers expect that they will have equal service in the digital and physical worlds; therefore if your team makes deliveries, you can have real-time proof-of-delivery information for your customers.

Forrester Research reports a customer’s perception of your company is reinforced by digital experiences, so it’s easy to see why fast, easy access to information is critical to the success of your supply chain. Using mobile PCs is one of the best ways to improve the visibility and velocity of your supply chain to provide excellent customer service.

Cheryl Bikowski is marketing communications supervisor at Gamber-Johnson

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