Magazine Article | September 25, 2012

MEAP Provides Seamless Software Design For Distribution Group

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Field Technologies magazine

Bunzl is a global distribution group supplying a range of nonfood consumables. The company has operations in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe and employs 12,000 people.

In Australia, Bunzl needed a way to modernize its field sales operations. “We were using a paperbased system,” says Geoffrey Reid, IT manager for Bunzl Australia. “Reps took orders throughout the day and spent hours entering them into our system at night.” This created extra work, and orders weren’t reaching Bunzl’s distribution facilities until evening, giving the company less time to pack and ship product.

In 2009, Bunzl rolled out its first mobile solution, designed for the Palm Treo Pro devices carried by each sales rep. While this allowed reps to place orders from their mobile devices, its limitations became apparent. But a far larger issue came to light when Bunzl attempted to purchase replacements, but could not find a model that was compatible with its mobile app. Reid realized that as the pace of mobile technology continued to accelerate, this problem would likely repeat itself.

Reid contacted LogicalTech, a business consulting and application integration firm, and the company suggested that Bunzl consider a mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) offered by Verivo. Everything from data sources and workflows to security protocols and branding elements are designed using a single WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface. Application changes and updates are made in real time and are visible to users the next time they log in.

Reid says Verivo’s technology provides Bunzl with new flexibility. “With our previous solution, we were tied to Palm on a Windows platform. But now we can open up [the application] to BlackBerry and other devices, including iPads.”

Bunzl was able to develop, design, and deploy its mobile application in three months. Reid says the solution increased sales rep productivity, and in turn, real-time sales data has increased order-processing efficiencies.

Police Department Creates A Mobile Office Environment

The San Jose, CA Police Department (SJPD) employs more than 1,300 officers and is responsible for the safety of more than one million people. Deputy Chief Diane Urban and her team have been working to decentralize and digitize SJPD’s records and field communications systems. “We needed a scalable platform that would take us into the future, including camera systems, video, and remote sensors and communications equipment,” said Urban.

The SJPD’s bureau of technical services (BTS) teamed with Feeney Wireless, a wireless and mobile broadband solutions provider, and Sierra Wireless to solve connectivity issues and help design a wireless, electronic reporting system. SJPD trialed an electronic citation pilot by using Wi-Fi-capable handheld devices that allowed officers to create electronic tickets and download records directly from the device once they returned to the SJPD main campus. To eliminate having to download data from the devices only at the main campus, Feeney Wireless introduced CIRA (Cellular Internet Routing Appliance) with integrated 3G WWAN, router, Wi-Fi access point, and GPS. The 3G CIRA solution enabled data to be downloaded in real time from the patrol car in the field.

This solution also supported the goal of a real-time broadband information exchange for a mobile fingerprinting project, which allows officers to immediately report citations and fingerprint information back to the main campus. In turn, investigators could search the Automated Fingerprint Identification System to report back to the field officer in real time any outstanding warrants or past criminal activity.

The CIRA solution enables officers to connect to the department’s main campus, creating a wireless office environment wherever they are. Officers now submit citations and other field reports in real time, reducing gas expenses and trips to and from campus. Officers also have immediate access to all data, from department policies to fingerprints and mug shots. All of these capabilities provide the efficiencies and cost reduction sought by Urban and her team, while providing an environment in which officers can more effectively perform the job of keeping San Jose communities safe.