The integration of new technology into the handheld also allows the time synchronization of a route through the routing application.
"You can have specific customer service information that is sent out to the cab about the destination of your next delivery," says Cadec's Moreno.
This information can be accessed by a driver's handheld device and can include updated delivery instructions and other information that increases the productivity of the driver. Moreno says that through this same telematics system, arrival times can be routed through the back office, which can notify customers about the specific time they can expect a driver to arrive at. With this information, a customer can actually stagger arrival times at the dock door and prevent congestion.
"We're seeing that customers are slotting time slots so that a vehicle can arrive in a very short window of time and the driver can unload his goods and leave, in order that the next truck can come in and make its deliveries unencumbered," notes Motorola's Mcnerney. The resulting shorter unload time boosts the number of deliveries a driver can make during the day.
Sign On The Dotted Line
Once the driver offloads his product at the dock door, the handheld, via electronic signature capture, can close the deal in a lightning fast manner, simplifying the entire process for the driver.
"It eliminates paperwork and automates the process, reducing time from order to cash for the company," explains Cadec's Moreno. In addition, there are other important advantages to the electronic signature capture process, especially in terms of reconciliation. Both customer and distributor need to see signatures in order to verify that a transaction was properly completed.
"Confirming delivery is very important. Sometimes customers will actually lie and say they didn't get that sixth case of ice cream," notes Jeff Nixon, product manager for Retalix Ltd., Plano, TX, which provides integrated enterprise-wide software solutions for the food industry. "All the driver has to do is give the guy the handheld and say 'look, yes you did get it.'" Nixon says customers are less likely to try something like that again when that happens. "The scanner doesn't lie. It actually saves distributors a lot of money every year and helps with delivery reconciliation."
In fact, thanks to the proliferation of handhelds on the delivery route, the whole issue of DSD route accounting is being rendered moot for companies.
"For every 100 drivers, a company can save $80,000 a year," says Nixon. "Companies are saving on shortages, overages and even damages. The ambiguity is being eliminated."
Mobileaware's Shingler says that before his beverage customer employed their handheld solution, there was a lot of merchandise on their trucks at the end of the day.
"Orders would get messed up, delivery people would deliver incorrect product and they would have to swap items out as a result. They would end up with product in the truck at the end of the day shouldn't have been in there."
With the software that is available today for handhelds, customers like Mobileaware's can refine the in-store ordering process to such a degree that the delivery person is able to walk into a store, pull up the history of what's been ordered during the same week last year, or when there was a week with similar weather and they can provide complete ordering guidance to the customer right there on the spot.
"It's so incredibly convenient these days. The order goes back immediately to the warehouse where they can start pulling those beverages for delivery the next day."
Retalix's Nixon says its system handles backhauls as well. As soon as drivers receive their handhelds, they know all the stops they have to make for the day. They will also know whether the stop is a drop off or a pick up. "The handheld spells it out for him and thereby eliminates confusion."
Closing The DSD Loop