The Difference that Mobile Solutions Make
Authored by Alana Smith, TeamCain
The other day I was out doing some grocery shopping and I turned my cart down the snack aisle. There was a man there in a blue uniform with boxes of potato chips and a handy mobile device scanning as he unloaded. We’ve all seen these mobile devices before – shipping companies have been using them for years, as have famous beverage providers. Using mobility in your supply chain logistics provides that connectivity to your enterprise data turning your company into an efficient competitor. Mobility is a lot more today than a “nice to have” – the need for transparency and connectivity, the drive to reduce costs and the need to increase accuracy and productivity quickens the adoption of mobile solutions in the market.
What exactly is the cost of not using a mobile solution?
First, it costs you money. Over the past five years, logistics costs have increased by 43.1% and warehouse costs are increasing 9.5% each year. According to the 20th Annual State of Logistics Report, companies in the United States spent $1.34 trillion on logistics in 2008! That is a lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere in the company if there were better solutions in place when it comes to supply logistics. Another cost of not going mobile is the loss of customers. Nowadays, there is a greater need for transparency – people want to know where their stuff is 24/7, where it is in the delivery cycle and how soon they can expect it. They judge how fast your turn around time is. If the information is not readily available to your consumers, how can you expect them to stay with you when they can get the answer from a competitor somewhere else? This leads into the final cost of not using a mobile solution and that is productivity. You need to stay on top of exactly what you have in your warehouse, where it is, and if it’s possible for you to reduce, or even eliminate, safety stock. If your inventory isn’t accurate, your warehouse employees won’t know where to put items, the managers won’t know where the items are either and by documenting it all via paper, it might be too late before a problem is even discovered.
The difference that mobile solutions make is that you know exactly where your product is, you can easily send your employees to find said product at the right place the first time, and as a bonus, the data is automatically entered into JD Edwards – there is no more manual entry or the lag times that come with paper processing.
Inside the warehouse, mobile solutions help with inventory, picking and productivity. Mobility can help reduce your safety stock by a third due to better inventory accuracy. With great inventory accuracy, you don’t have to carry that amount of safety stock and therefore you can reduce the costs that come with carrying that safety stock (like insurance, warehousing fees, and carrying costs). That is extra money in your pocket that can be used elsewhere. The same result can come with regards to picking. Let’s say, for example, that you have a picking accuracy of 99.3% but you have about 105 errors per day, which cost you $20 per error. Your daily error cost is $2100. If you increase your picking accuracy by 0.4, so 99.7%, you are saving that $2100, which makes a difference to your annual costs. Mobility brings big productivity gains as well. With mobility, you don’t need to leave a paper trail or deal with manually entering the data into your system.
In the field, mobile solutions can help increase your overall customer and employee satisfaction. Drivers who use mobile solutions can spend less time per stop than those who have to fiddle about with paper. You don’t have to worry about multiple trips back and forth to the warehouse. With a mobile solution, the task of returning with a stack of papers that have to be manually inputted into the system at the end of the day is eliminated. Being able to have a customer electronically sign for a delivery really helps to keep invoice discrepancies down. You also can gain a cash flow advantage to automate the delivery process by having the drivers carry a mobile printer to print off the customer’s invoice. The driver doesn’t have to complete any paperwork, the accounting department doesn’t need to review the information put into the system and print up an invoice then mail it out. You would cut a large amount of time from this process and therefore increase your overall productivity. The same data is captured, validated and then synchronized with JD Edwards.
When consumers see how efficient and accurate your system is, they trust you and return to you for business thus increasing your sales. Mobility can empower your employees by reducing the stress that came with tasks that took too long to complete. Not every company is the same so you have to think about your situation. For example, one company has their employees working overtime hours because they have to stay late to input the data from paper. With a mobile solution, the workers no longer work overtime hours and the company doesn’t have to pay out that overtime. Either way, there is no doubt that a mobile solution can help gain that competitive advantage or help stay current with the shifting trends in the marketplace.
A mobile solution, like RF-SMART, can provide the framework and tools you need to deploy enterprise mobile settings. Click here to read more about this one management console with .NET technology developed and optimized for mobile applications.