Time-critical service levels
The collection and delivery (C&D) landscape is diverse and encompasses a number of transport and logistics segments. Whilst segment terminology may slightly differ by region, the following sectors cover the key operations: courier express parcel (CEP), postal services, third-party logistics (3PL), freight forwarding, groupage, trucking, less than load (LTL), private fleets, and service fleets.
Common to each of these collection and delivery sectors is the high-volume, low-margin environment that drives technology investment decisions by executive management. These investment priorities are predominantly:
• First-time, on-time service-level compliance
• Reduction in fuel consumption
• Resource and fleet optimisation
• Differentiating customer services
• Accurate, on-time billing
• Cash flow optimisation
• New services revenue generation
• Environmental sustainability
Leaders in C&D view investments in mobile worker solutions as a business necessity and a platform for delivering differentiating service levels. Their mobile computing and data collection strategies encompass:
• Proof of collection, receipt, despatch and delivery
• Proof of location, condition, compliance, identity, service, and payment
A critical success factor in executing these “proof of” applications is providing data and tools to collection and delivery operatives, whether vehicle- or foot-based, at the point of work. Equally, communication modes must be seamless to allow critical data to be immediately available to customers and partners, as well as internal business units.
New service differentiators
The highly competitive landscape in the B2B market, and the impact of the liberalisation of the postal market in Europe for example, has lead to C&D businesses investigating new markets. Whether B2C or C2C, the key factor in new service delivery is compliance against time-critical service levels.
Moving from, for example am or pm, or even ‘some time next day’ deliveries to guaranteed hourly time slots is a prime goal of many C&D businesses. Not only does this provide increased service levels to the end recipient or consignee, but also new revenue streams as consignors are prepared to pay for guaranteed timedefinite services. Additionally, contented consignees lead to brand attachment, which in turn increases repeat business and customer retention.
Being able to deliver these new service levels requires more than just technology in the hands and vehicles of the mobile workforce. For example, the computing power of a mobile platform could be used to perform dynamic scheduling, allowing a C&D business to migrate from ‘rough cut’ scheduling to time-definite routing, when tightly linked to back-office scheduling and routing management systems.
Mobile computing platforms addressing the key ‘proof of’ headings for C&D businesses must provide a convergence of technologies to accommodate the range of prevalent use cases.
Mobility Solutions to Drive Competitive Advantage
The following are eight technology innovation ‘must haves’ when investigating new markets, enhancing customer service and driving operational excellence:
1. The ability to perform proof of location and proof of condition applications, and provide real-time updates to customers using a single device
2. The ability to meet time-definite service levels using ubiquitous, robust wireless communications
3. The ability to intelligently and efficiently capture documents and images within the same bar code scanning and proof of delivery application
4. The ability to quickly and accurately scan bar codes, even damaged codes, for faster vehicle loading and accurate delivery manifests
5. The ability to reduce downtime and costs related to battery charging through the integration of intelligent power management for vehicle-based workers
6. The ability to deploy devices that have been designed for durability and user comfort
7. The ability to allow users to focus all of their effort on the task at hand through the integration of sensors that improve ease of use
8. The ability to manage all mobile devices from a central remote location
Technology point solutions exist for many operational areas of a C&D business, but the key to service delivery excellence and new service differentiation is the integration of new operational processes, hardware, software, IT services, project management, education, user acceptance, and reliable on-going service and maintenance across all business functions.
From a total solution perspective, reliability, battery life, and superior performance all deliver significant monetary benefits, but when a device fails in the field, or when information in the IT system is not up-to-date; costs to the business can dramatically increase.
Customers deploying a mobility solution in collection and delivery operations must evaluate the criteria by which success can be measured.