Magazine Article | July 13, 2007

Keep Legacy Apps With Windows CE Data Collection Terminals

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, April 2007

Dayco is a leading manufacturer of timing belts, tensioners, hoses, and related parts for the automotive industry  and also serves as the aftermarket distribution arm for its parent company, Mark IV Automotive. Dayco had an outdated wireless computer system for its DC (distribution center) operations that threatened customer responsiveness and placed a burden on DC operators. "We have to make sure our customers don't have any interruptions to their supply chains," said Jim Richter, DC manager. "We had so much data collection terminal failure that it impacted our ability to ship orders to meet our customer commitments. We were always able to meet our customers' requested ship dates, but we had to jump through hoops and run up a lot of overtime to do so." For instance, Dayco incurred $10,000 to $15,000 in expenses each time it needed overtime to get customer orders out on time.

Richter monitored mobile computing developments and evaluated potential replacement units for several years, but legacy factors made a transition difficult. Dayco runs a homegrown warehouse management system (WMS) from an AS/400 and was using full-screen mobile computers with a proprietary OS. The company didn't want to redevelop its legacy systems to be compatible with the ¼ VGA  (video graphics array) screen Microsoft Windows-based mobile devices that currently dominated the market. Because of previous experiences, Dayco wanted a Cisco wireless backbone, making strong Cisco support in the mobile computers a requirement.

Dayco upgraded its proprietary mobile devices and 900 MHz wireless LAN (WLAN) in Fayetteville, NC to LXE MX3X mobile computers running on a Cisco 802.11 WLAN integrated by PEAK Technologies. The new system integrated with Dayco's legacy warehouse management systems and business operations. Dayco chose the MX3X computers after seeing them in use at a PEAK customer site. The MX3X has a ½ VGA display and provides 5250 terminal emulation, which Dayco took advantage of to run its legacy apps without software redevelopment. Dayco reports total productivity in the DC — including picking, putaway, cycle counts, inventory management, and shipping operations — has increased from 10% to 15% since the LXE and Cisco equipment was installed.