Smart phones, tablets, phablets – whatever your preference, mobile technology is ubiquitous in modern society, with most people finding it hard to imagine life before their smart phone.
In a business context, according to Accenture, 60% of professionals indicate that mobile technologies improve their productivity and, as a result, the use of mobile apps will continue to grow.
Logistics & Supply Chain Mobile Applications
In logistics and supply chain, a whole host of new supply chain mobility devices and applications help companies do everything from track assets and shipments, execute transactions and processes, and collaborate with internal and external partners.
Tapping into these tools helps logistics executives improve supply chain functionality, productivity, and efficiency - no matter where they are.
The parcel carriers were the first transport operators to embrace the use of Apps, using them to record deliveries and capture consignees’ signatures. Their use has also increased to enable consignor and consignee tracking of packages.
Logistics Transport Apps
In transport, Mobile Apps now make it simple to track:
- Status updates (received, on way to pick-up, at pick-up location, picked-up, on way to deliver, at delivery, delivered)
- Customer signatures
- Comprehensive vehicle details
- Damage (including photographs)
- Expenses incurred
Such applications help logistics organisations to easily communicate with drivers, provide instructions in real-time and keep customers informed on shipment progress, without investing in separate software or hardware.
Last year, software supplier Kewill launched iOS and Android applications that allow drivers to instantly log in to their company’s Kewill Logistics operating system, retrieve a list of trips to be made, and send back the status of each stage of the trip directly from standard touch-screen smartphones or tablets.
The Logistics UK also now offers an App which includes the following features:
- The latest news from Logistics UK's press and media team
- An up-to-the-minute traffic feed
- The latest fuel prices
- A calendar of upcoming Logistics UK events
- The latest legislation information for road, rail, sea and air freight
- A list of services Logistics UK provides
- Useful contact details
In the warehouse, the newest handheld mobile devices boast an array of functionalities for improved warehouse productivity and flexibility, including:
- Barcode scanning at both close and long ranges
- Built-in cameras
- RFID capabilities
- Voice-enabled functionality
- Mobile ‘smart’ printers with built-in intelligence that enable them to produce labels without being hard-wired to a computer system
WMS vendor Manhattan Associates has responded to demand from customers to ‘make it mobile’ by creating a team dedicated to mobile applications.
Unsurprisingly, the large ERP providers such as SAP and Oracle also offer a host of apps that link with their supply chain solutions.
Mobile Apps for warehousing can enable:
- Capture of employee start and finish times and productivity
- Inventory enquiries
- Real time inventory checking
- Photographic capture of damage and incidents
- Product identification
Apps are also increasingly being used for delivering information to employees, for example, communicating work rosters and specific instructions to individuals, or general communications or company announcements to all employees.
A big decision for companies as they embrace the use of mobile applications is who provides the hardware, particularly smart phones and tablets. In the early days, companies were wary of employees using their own equipment due to data security issues. But, guess what, there are now apps to overcome these security issues and many companies have now developed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and encourage employees to have their own mobile devices.
In a field that is all about getting goods where they need to be quickly and cost-effectively, it's no surprise that mobile applications and devices are fast becoming must-have tools for logistics, supply chain and transportation professionals.
Technology Solutions with Davies & Robson
Davies & Robson has considerable experience in helping clients define what they need from technology solutions and developing these requirements into a functional specification which can be used to evaluate available solutions or for bespoke systems development. For further information, please call us on 01327 349090 or contact us.