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Field Sales and Delivery Mobility Route Accounting

How Route Accounting Solutions Help Drivers Reach More Stops

When it comes to delivery and sales routes, efficiency is a key driver of profitability. The more stops the driver can successfully service in a shift, the higher the revenue that route can generate.

There are a number of factors that can impede route efficiency, but mobile route accounting solutions can make it possible for drivers to more quickly complete each stop while still providing more accurate service to each customer. Route accounting solutions also provide better data and improved visibility into route performance and untapped sales opportunities, too.

Even reducing each stop by just a few minutes can, in aggregate make it possible to add one or more stops per route. Even adding just one stop per day can significantly improve revenue and cash flow, important considerations in industries like baked goods and snacks, where margins are often razor thin.

According to a study conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), the most efficient direct store delivery (DSD) suppliers spend 13.8 fewer minutes for each delivery to large-format stores, and spend nearly twice as much time on merchandising than inefficient suppliers. In fact, efficient DSD personnel spend 50 percent of their time in stores merchandising, compared to just 27 percent for inefficient operators. A key part of that efficiency is the use of route accounting solutions.

Here’s how these mobile solutions can improve route efficiency:

1. Reduce Drive Time: Many route solutions include optimization engines that can help reorganize routes so that drivers spend less time behind the wheel and more time servicing accounts and merchandising.

2. Eliminate Paperwork: According to the GMA, DSD drivers spend as much as 6% of their time preparing invoices at customer locations. Route accounting solutions that leverage mobile computing technology allow drivers to quickly complete deliveries and automatically generate accurate invoices on their mobile devices and mobile printers.

3. Automate Check-In: The Direct Exchange electronic data interchange standard allows suppliers to automatically transmit invoice information to retailers. With DEX connectivity, a route accounting solution can help eliminate tedious check-n processes, while eliminating errors and administrative costs. According to the GMA study, automated check-in can reduce DSD receiving time by 60%.

4. Accelerate Inventory Processes: Using mobile computers with barcode scanning capability allows drivers to quickly scan merchandise off of their truck inventory, as well as speed up on-shelf inventory management. Drivers no longer have to spend time writing down inventory counts, and the data is typically more accurate.

5. Automate Reconciliation:With automated invoicing, more accurate inventory data, and DEX connectivity, route accounting solutions automate the entire reconciliation process. Drivers no longer have to spend time manually matching their paperwork, and administrative staff can receive accurate route information that can quickly be verified at the end of each shift.

6. On-Site Payment Processing:Using a route accounting solution and a mobile computer, drivers can even accept retailer payments at the point of delivery. There’s no paperwork to shuffle, and drivers don’t have to call the office to verify credit card numbers. Payments can be made quickly, which not only saves time for the driver but also accelerates the cash cycle.

Route accounting solutions can shave precious minutes from each stop on the delivery driver’s route. Drivers can add more stops per shift, improve data accuracy, and boost customer satisfaction.

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Mobility Warehouse and Distribution

Voice Enablement: The Newest Enterprise Mobility Trend

As ubiquitous as they are in computing, typing and touch are less intuitive and natural than speech; humans have been talking to each other for thousands of years, after all. Voice enablement has been under development in the computer industry for decades, but it is only in recent years that reliable, speech-based interfaces have emerged.

The evolution of voice and speech in mobile computing got a boost via Apple’s introduction of Siri, which brought voice commands to the masses; that platform has improved with each iteration. Google Glass, as well, was primarily voice driven. In the mobile computing space, voice enablement may be the next frontier in innovation.

According to the recent Global Voice Recognition Market 2015-2019 report from TechNavio, voice recognition is growing at 9.4 percent through 2019. Tractica has predicted that the speech and voice recognition market will grow from $249 million to $5.1 billion by 2024.

While voice enablement in consumer technology is more of a convenience (or even a novelty, depending on your point of view), in enterprise mobile computing it can unlock new levels of productivity. In field service, maintenance, warehouse management, and other applications, the hands-free aspect of voice technology can eliminate a considerable amount of typing and scrolling that takes the tech’s hands away from their primary task.

In warehouse management, there are already plenty of companies that have deployed voice-enabled picking and putaway solutions that allow warehouse staff work much more efficiently than if they had to stop and use a keypad-based mobile device to complete their tasks. For forklift drivers and other equipment operators, voice enablement also improves workplace safety because drivers are able to interact with applications while still keeping their eyes on the road (or on the warehouse aisle, as the case may be). In field service, voice enablement could allow technicians to fill in work orders and receive instructions while still using both hands to repair equipment.

Voice technology has also improved operations in hospital settings, where environmental services staff or nursing staff can update patient charts verbally while completing other tasks. Voice technology has also progressed to the point that physicians can record their notes on a mobile device and have them automatically transcribed and loaded into the medical record, all in just a few quick steps. That means clinical documentation is more accurate and can be accessed more quickly by other physicians and clinicians.

That’s not to say that voice enablement is a panacea for every application. Even in warehouse environments, where voice-based input is most firmly entrenched, the speech solution typically complements bar code and RFID technology. If you are trying to record a serial number, for example, a bar code scan is still faster than reading the number out loud. But for basic commands and instructions, voice can eliminate data entry and reduce bottlenecks.

Voice-enabled mobile solutions are growing in number, and expanding into multiple types of applications. Where a hands-free data interface can provide improved safety or productivity, voice solutions provide a reliable and viable solution for mobile data collection and data access.

Categories
Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

4 Ways to Improve the Last Mile Delivery Efficiency of your Supply Chain

Supply chain management solutions have revolutionized the movement of goods from one node to another, but the “last mile” of the supply chain — the point at which goods leave a large volume facility and then arrive at the final destination — is still highly inefficient and very costly. Final delivery can be complicated or delayed by traffic, construction, inefficient dispatching, incorrect addresses, unattended delivery issues, signature capture problems, and other factors. Because of this, last mile delivery can account for as much as 28% of total delivery costs

Companies have developed a variety of last-mile delivery solutions to combat these issues. Amazon has even investigated using unmanned drones to drop parcels at customers’ homes. Most companies aren’t going to go quite that far to improve delivery operations, but there are a number of technology and operational fixes that reduce costs and make your last-mile delivery operations more efficient.

Planning Tools Are a Must

Routing, scheduling, and planning are simply too complex, and customer delivery requirements too stringent, to possibly manage your operations in a spreadsheet or on paper. Invest in route planning and fleet management tools that can help you optimize routes while also providing real-time information on delivery status and truck location.

Using these software solutions, you can more effectively monitor vehicle running costs, driver overtime, number of stops completed, the quality of your routes, loading priorities, and delivery time windows. The solution should also include robust mapping tools to improve address accuracy. These software tools provide the data you need to accelerate the last mile delivery process, while also allowing you to optimize operations and improve routing and scheduling.

A good planning tool also continues to get better by using the data generated daily to help you better organize your network’s last mile delivery process. These systems can analyze your routes and help you identify optimal locations for depots, for example, or provide recommendations on growing or shrinking the delivery fleet, or even the potential benefits of outsourcing some operations.

Shrink Delivery Windows

With a planning and routing tool in place, you can provide more accurate ETAs to your customers in order to meet their increasingly strict delivery window requests. In addition to improving customer services, this allows you to increase your hit density, or the number of deliveries your drivers can make in a given shift. Increasing the delivery rate will reduce the overall cost of running that route, so any improvement can go straight to the bottom line.

Customer-specific delivery restrictions, challenging loading zones, customer delays, and perishability of freight will work against your hit density and route efficiency. Route planning tools can help take those elements into consideration, build the route to minimize their impact, and create more accurate ETAs.

Navigation Tools Boost Delivery Accuracy

Getting the drivers from Point A to Point B can be extremely difficult in some urban environments. Trucks don’t just need to know where to go; they need to know about weight and size restrictions for vehicles on certain routes, and customer-specific information about yards, parking lots, private roads, and other elements and obstacles that can make it challenging to reach the final point of delivery.

Navigation tools can help drivers make their way right to the correct loading dock, while improving driver safety and efficiency. Routes can be built to accommodate weight and hazardous materials restrictions in many municipalities. Some of these systems also include real-time traffic and construction data that can help reroute trucks dynamically to avoid time and fuel-wasting delays.

Mobility Completes the Package

The physical delivery process itself is another opportunity for efficiency improvements. This is where mobile computing technology can make a big impact. If drivers have to wrangle paper forms during the delivery process, it can increase the amount of time the driver takes to complete the delivery. That eats into the productivity of the route and increases costs.

Using mobile devices, like the Zebra MC9500-K Rugged Mobile Computer, drivers can quickly access the needed documents, obtain electronic signatures, and update the back-end supply chain management solution. Instead of spending time at the end of the route filing paperwork, drivers can schedule extra deliveries. In industries where drivers must maintain hours of service (HOS) or fuel tax logs, the fleet management system and hand-held computer can automatically track that information. That eliminates another time-consuming pile of paperwork for the driver and frees up valuable minutes to increase hit density.

As logistics providers and delivery companies vie for more business, the companies that are able to perform last-mile deliveries in the smartest, most efficient fashion will win out. Using route planning and scheduling, fleet management, and mobile delivery systems can give your company a critical competitive advantage.

Categories
Mobility Warehouse and Distribution

4 Ways Wearable Devices are Changing the Warehouse

Traditional warehouse management is being shaken up with the increased pervasiveness of wearable devices. This hands-free technology offers employees a more efficient way to complete tasks, provides management with real-time analytics, and can even prevent fatigue-related accidents.

Improved Efficiency

Pick up a terminal. Scan a package. Put down a terminal. Pick up a package. Repeat. This process may be completed thousands of times, so even the tiniest amount of time saved on each scan will increase overall efficiency tenfold. With wearable devices, the need to pick up and put down a terminal is obsolete. Employees can easily scan a product with a ring scanner, and the information is displayed using an arm-mounted mobile computer, like the Dolphin 70e Mobile Computer, which now offers a wearable solution.

Wearable devices give employees access to rich information, right at their fingertips. They won’t spend time fumbling with different devices. Instead, they have the flexibility and mobility to quickly switch between tasks as necessary.

That’s not all. Even eyeglasses are getting upgrades. The technology is available. Voice commands and information is displayed through the augmented reality glasses. Employees are able to complete tasks while information is relayed to them en route—like directions for the next pickup. Pickup can be confirmed with voice commands. This completely hands-free solution prevents employees from the distraction of pausing to look up pickup information.

Remote Management

Managers will be better able to track employee movement with the use of wearable devices. This might sound like a little much, but the ability to manage employees without physically being on the warehouse floor offers a variety of benefits. Managers will be able to understand how long it takes an average employee to complete a task. This can help them see when a particular employee is under performing and work to resolve the issue. Management can also make adjustments to the structure of tasks to improve efficiencies. The results of these adjustments can be clearly monitored.

Managers will also be able to easily communicate with employees who are in the process of completing tasks with minimal interruptions. Wearable devices connect staff with managers, fellow employees, and real-time data, so they’re better informed and can make better decisions.

Reduced Fatigue-Related Accidents

The 24/7 pace of warehouses can leave workers feeling fatigued, which can result in mistakes—or worse, accidents. Wearable devices in the form of smart watch technology has already been helping consumers improve their sleep and better understand their bodies, so why not apply that to the business world as well?

Wearable devices can track sleep patterns and compare them with established standards. They also have the capability to wake employees at the optimal time, so they wake feeling refreshed and ready to begin their day. This sleep data can be streamed to managers, allowing them to recognize when employees are excessively fatigued. They can then make informed decisions about employees—like sending them home to rest or assigning them to a lower risk task.

Wearable devices offer a new window to information. The applications are endless, but one thing is for sure, warehouses that implement wearable technology will see improved efficiency, better management, and even a reduction in fatigue-related accidents.

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Healthcare Mobility

The Benefits of Using Mobile Devices in Healthcare

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been tasked with increased documentation activities required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other regulations. At the same time, many facilities face staffing shortages and budget cuts, while still being expected to improve the quality of care.

Using mobile devices in healthcare applications can relieve the burden of manually collecting, verifying, and entering data into an electronic medical record (EMR), while at the same time improving caregiver communication and the quality of care.

Using mobile devices, doctors and nurses can scan barcoded patient wristbands, charts, and medications in order to ensure accurate medication administration and treatment. Mobile devices can also be used to manage pharmacy inventory, for asset management, and for other types of materials and inventory tracking throughout the hospital.

While mobile devices in healthcare are often rugged, moisture-resistant devices that were purpose-built for these applications, there are also other options that incorporate popular consumer devices. Healthcare providers can also integrate popular mobile devices like the Apple iPhone into these solutions using custom applications and specially designed sleds. For example, Honeywell’s Captuvo SL42h sled for the iPhone and Captuvo SL22h for the iPod touch provide an integrated barcode scanner and disinfectant-ready protective housing and sealed screen protector that can turn a phone into a clinical computing device. By outfitting a commonly used phone with a robust barcode scanner and hot swappable external battery pack, healthcare organizations get the advantages of an easy-to-use interface, along with the performance of a purpose-built mobile computing device.

Mobile devices in the healthcare setting can also be used for the direct management of patient care. Nurses and doctors must frequently pause during care activities to enter data into stationary computers in order to update the electronic medical record (EMR) or enter notes into a paper chart. There are now applications available that allow clinicians to update charts on the go using mobile phones, hand-held computers, or tablets. Nurses can consult the plan of care without leaving the bedside and returning to the nursing station.

Communication among clinicians can also be improved. Using converged mobile devices like smartphones can help hospitals replace the disparate collection of pagers, VOIP phones, barcode scanners and other devices that doctors and nurses carry. Instead, they can access the EMR, patient alerts, and secure text and voice messages on a single platform. Doing so also reduces IT cost and complexity for the facility.

In addition, clinicians can access mobile apps for electronic prescribing, diagnosis and treatment, practice management, coding and billing, and other activities. This reduces the administrative burden for physicians and improves efficiency. Doctors can see more patients each day, and clinicians can potentially avoid dangerous medical errors because the information they need is right in their hands.

With mobile technology, healthcare professionals are equipped to be well-coordinated care teams. Mobility can provide immediate improvements in efficiency and patient care. These solutions also improve the way doctors, nurses and other end users utilize the electronic medical record and interact with each other and patients.

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Healthcare Mobility

Can iPads Improve the Efficiency of Healthcare Specimen Tracking?

The healthcare industry relies on accuracy—without it, patients are left with less than optimal care. But the environment of hospitals and laboratories can make that difficult, especially when dealing with healthcare specimen tracking.

The traditional method for specimen tracking often involves manually entering data. They pick up a specimen and handwrite the tracking information on the form. This tracking information is key-entered into their laptop, which then prints another form to travel with the specimen. These tracking sheets are easily damaged and the handwritten information could be hard to read, making manually entering it even more difficult.

Adding technology to the process of healthcare specimen tracking can reduce the amount of tracking errors and improving efficiency in the process of getting important lab results back to patients. The iPad is an example of newer mobile technology that has become ubiquitous throughout many industries, and that can often include the healthcare industry. If employees within your organization utilize iPads, the only way to completely take full advantage of them is to give them printing capabilities. Combining iPads with mobile printers like the Zebra QL320 creates a robust specimen tracking system that offers a mobile, accurate and efficient solution.

Mobility

iPads allow physicians, technicians, and nurses to take them right to the patient’s bedside. Rather than hand writing the tracking information on the form, hospital staff can utilize the tablet and mobile printer combination to scan the patient’s information, enter the appropriate additional specimen information into their iPad, and print a barcode label without ever leaving the patient’s room.

Accuracy

Accurate healthcare specimen tracking is a necessity. Some specimens are irreplaceable—the loss of them would result in catastrophe for trying to diagnose the patient, exposing the patient to danger and the hospital to lawsuits. This can be prevented with accurate healthcare specimen tracking using iPads and mobile printers. Attaching a label to a specimen immediately after it has been taken prevents it from being lost or mislabeled.

Barcode printers like the Zebra QL320 can also print custom labels that are color coded based on the hospital or lab’s system. This allows staff to quickly recognize the type of specimen or its priority level.

In a lab or hospital setting, it’s important to have labels that can withstand being exposed to spills. Zebra products are durable, so even if they’re exposed to moisture or the specimen spills, the lab technicians will still be able to scan the specimen and ensure testing is completed accurately and returned to the proper patient.

Efficiency

Efficiency in healthcare specimen tracking can be difficult to achieve, but the ability to track specimens throughout the process will help ensure that the item has reached the lab, been processed, and returned in an appropriate time period. Knowing where a specimen is in the process can help hospital staff spot problems and inefficiencies in the specimen testing process.

Staff won’t waste time trying to read handwritten tracking sheets and they will waste less time retesting or retaking specimens that have been misplaced or mislabeled. This streamlines the entire patient diagnosis process, and leaves patients feeling confident and comfortable with their hospital.

Implementing a mobile solution like iPads and mobile printers like those from Zebra can provide a more streamlined healthcare specimen tracking process. Samples can be easily identified, tracked, and returned to the right patient, quickly and easily. Not only will your hospital be running more smoothly, but your patients will also be guaranteed peace of mind.

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Mobility

Industrial Flexibility: Tablet as Vehicle Mount Terminal and Rugged Portable

A Fortune 500 manufacturing retailer has been using wireless vehicle mounts in their distribution centers for many years.  They have always prided themselves on being state of the art in technology and operations.

However, after years of service, some of the equipment has become dated.   Also, new locations were scheduled to be opened that needed new equipment.  They turned to their trusted advisor, omniQ, to analyze their requirements and determine an appropriate solution.

omniQ and the customer had good experience with a number of systems from a variety of manufacturers, both well-known and less known.  Each provided some advantages and unique characteristics, but the customer had some new requirements that needed to be met:

  • An industrial-grade state of the art computing device to work as a fixed-mounted device on a vehicle, yet be able to be removed and used as a tablet
  • Work with a rugged industrial scanner; when mounted, use either tethered or wireless scanner; when portable as a tablet, use a wireless scanner
  • Use in a very rugged distribution center, with rough floors that required vibration and shock protection while on the vehicles.
  • When used in and out of the centers, to be protected against periodic rain and cold and hot temperatures
  • To be compatible with the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, yet capable of supporting the latest standards
  • To have outstanding quality for service and support
  • And the kicker:  run their proprietary Linux kernel OS and applications without modification, with all necessary security lock-downs and management tools
  • Last, but not least, ship for deployment to multiple locations in a very short timeframe

This called for a complex solution and collaboration from a number of vendors.  omniQ was up to the task and reviewed many technologies from many vendors before proposing the winning solution.

Although there were a number of very capable vehicle mount terminals (VMT), there were few tablets that could be used as a VMT.  The Panasonic G1 stood out because it supplied all the necessary capabilities:

  • The ruggedness was clearly within the expectations, and was even verified by on-site analysis from Panasonic engineers to ensure the extreme conditions could all be met
  • The Wi-Fi coverage was tested and performed better than any of the other candidates
  • omniQ, Panasonic, and the customer worked together to ensure the custom boot logic of the G1 could be used to launch the existing Linux kernel
  • The customer validated all their applications, including security lockdown and management, with complete compatibility
  • Panasonic’s history of high quality and reliability also figured well into the decision

omniQ also worked with other vendors to supply the rest of the components of the complete solution:

  • Lind power supplies to protect against spikes, brown-outs and other power conditions from a variety of forklift charging/operating environments
  • Precision docks to securely lock the tablet while on the vehicle, yet still allow the tablet to be removed for portable use, even including some customization of the locking mechanisms to match the customers’ operational needs
  • iKey industrial keypad – so operators can use the same familiar keyboard interface, if desired
  • RAM mounting, for shock mounting and rugged flexibility
  • Motorola (now Zebra) industrial wireless scanners for use when mounted

The customer and omniQ worked closely to make sure each component and the entire integrated solution performed as desired.  Then came the logistics:  coordinate all the components from a variety of manufacturers, including some customizations to the docking station and Panasonic boot load image.  omniQ handled all of the coordination with the vendors to ensure all the various components could be received as ordered at the various locations, with the necessary customizations, and in the necessary timeframe.

The initial rollout met and exceeded expectations.  The equipment arrived, integrated, and performed exactly as needed with very high quality.  The operators were very comfortable with the new devices, which provided familiarity with the existing applications and interface, but were also ready for new applications and operations as needed.  The customer’s support organization was also very pleased with the lack of out-of-box failure calls or usage confusion.

The customer chose omniQ as the integrator because of its history of diligently striving to understand the customer’s needs from technical, operations and logistics perspectives and being directly involved with all aspects of integration and testing.  While a number of combinations might have been somewhat acceptable, the team worked together to find the optimal mix for a solution that delivered on all the objectives.

Categories
Field Sales and Delivery Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

4 Ways Mobile Solutions are Improving the Cost-Effectiveness of DSD

The popularity of mobile solutions has grown immensely over the past decade, mainly due to their convenience, but also because they benefit companies of all types and sizes in a variety of ways. This is especially true for companies dealing with route accounting and direct store delivery (DSD) solutions. When workers travel from place to place, mobile technology is required to get the job done. Mobile solutions provide huge improvements in accuracy and efficiency for DSD, which, in turn, leads to larger profits for businesses.

There are four main ways mobile solutions help improve the cost-effectiveness of DSD:

Real-time information access throughout the enterprise

Having real-time visibility throughout an enterprise can be a daunting feat. For businesses with direct store delivery solutions, the challenge is to receive detailed and error-free information from workers in the field.  Mobile devices can greatly reduce invoice errors, and they also allow invoices to be sent and received faster than ever. Every invoice error creates problems, not only because time is wasted while trying to correct the information, but because a company’s reputation can be damaged and customers can be lost.

Having mobile devices that can print invoices at the time of delivery can greatly reduce disputes or errors because they can be reviewed with the customer.  In addition to reducing conflicts, sending invoices with a mobile computer means the billing cycle can begin immediately. More accurate and efficient invoices will keep customers satisfied and can potentially lead to more business.

Inventory management

Real-time information access can also be vital to inventory management. Mobile solutions offer organized forms that allow workers to update the status of deliveries faster than ever. Safeguards can even be put in place to validate the data entry from workers; ambiguous entries can be flagged for evaluation.  The use of mobile devices in DSD will keep inventory levels accurate, which means shrinkage can be eliminated and items can always be kept in stock.  An accurate and up-to-date inventory is essential for businesses looking to improve the cost-effectiveness of their operations.

Route scheduling

Direct store delivery operations rely greatly on the efficiency of their drivers. In order to truly improve the cost-effectiveness of DSD, businesses need to ensure that their drivers are being productive and that they are following the most efficient routes. Mobile devices often feature GPS technology that gives managers visibility into their drivers’ locations, productivity, and route capacity. This real-time information can help business owners make better decisions in regards to routes, and it can even give them the power to change routes in the middle of a schedule.

More efficient operations

Mobile solutions can go wherever employees go, so there is no running back and forth and no time wasted. Handheld mobile computers have become the preferred DSD solution thanks to the wide number of applications they can handle.  Instead of carrying multiple devices, workers can utilize a mobile device that offers computing, signature capture, barcode scanning, and voice communication.

Mobile devices come in a variety of sizes or keypad layouts and offer varying degrees of ruggedness, which means businesses offering DSD can find the perfect fit for their solutions. Mobile computers can also be integrated with peripherals.

The pervasive nature of technology in the world today has led to extremely competitive industries.  The best performing DSD businesses have all adopted the most efficient, profitable, and accurate technologies.  Mobile solutions offer a variety of tangible benefits to direct store delivery; businesses looking to improve the cost-effectiveness of their operations should invest in mobile devices.

omniQ’s newest enterprise software solution, Route Edge, is the ideal mobile solution for improving the cost-effectiveness of DSD. Route Edge eliminates time-consuming errors in the field and workers can manage inventory, orders, returns, deliveries, and collect cash or check payments. Learn more about this configurable, scalable solution by downloading the Route Edge brochure!

Categories
Barcode Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How Mobile Devices Improve Route Accounting Solutions

If there’s one thing business owners can agree on, it’s this: efficiency is vital to success. Every business is run differently, but time, energy, and resources should always be handled in a way that maximizes the performance and profitability of operations. When it comes to route accounting, having a feature-rich and configurable solution can truly make a difference. The process of loading, shipping, and delivering products to consumers must be organized and effective. In order to streamline these route accounting operations, businesses should look to mobile devices.

The benefits mobile devices bring to route accounting include:

Real-time tracking
Any business using route accounting solutions knows that having visibility throughout the supply chain is paramount. Knowing where specific orders are and what time they got there allows businesses to take care of any problems immediately. Mobile devices can keep managers up to date on items that have been successfully delivered, but they can also help track returned or damaged items.

Properly tracking items all the way to delivery can help handle customer disputes. Customers might argue about the condition of the delivered products – or whether the product was delivered at all – and you will have recorded information to verify or dispute these claims.

Any business that relies on employees to be quick, knowledgeable, and accurate should be taking advantage of handheld devices. Intermec’s CN51, for example, is a versatile mobile computer that offers a variety of functionalities, including barcode scanning and Remote Deposit Capture (RDC), which converts check payments into electronic documents. Handhelds like the CN51 allow workers to complete a multitude of tasks in record time, and they also come with a small footprint.

Create invoices
Mobile devices eliminate the wait times between delivery and payment. In some cases, it is even possible to accept payments in the field. The ability to create invoices on the spot is invaluable not only to businesses, but to customers as well. As much as business owners want to streamline the invoicing process, it is important to remember that customers want the same thing. The sooner payments can be processed, the better.

Print receipts at the point of transaction
Adding mobile devices to your route accounting solution gives your employees the power to print receipts immediately – wherever they need to print them. Large or bulky receipt printers can be a pain to carry, so drivers often leave them in the truck. Having to return to the truck when a receipt is needed is a huge annoyance, and it also wastes time. Even if the drivers do bring these larger receipt printers with them, they could set them down and accidentally forget them.

Instant access to important business data
Businesses can leverage mobile devices to immediately update inventory levels, and having accurate inventory levels helps companies know which products are selling and how fast they are selling. With mobile devices in place, businesses should never have to worry about running out of inventory.

In addition, workers can instantly look up customer purchase history and data to be more effective when face to face with clients. Mobile devices are also perfect for keeping track of employees and their delivery times. Running reports on the deliveries can help managers gain a better understanding of delivery routes and methods. This information can be used to design more efficient methods of delivery – or at least more efficient routes.

A variety of industries are beginning to realize the value mobile technology can bring to businesses. Thanks to the frequent interactions drivers and workers have with customers, route accounting companies may have the most to gain from this mobile movement. There is no denying that efficiency and productivity lead to bigger profits, and mobile devices provide the perfect avenue to get there.