Magazine Article | September 24, 2008

Mobile Computers Improve Order Accuracy

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, October 2008

CDS Logistics is a company that manages 31 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) that deliver kitchen cabinets to residential and commercial locations in 33 states. Contractors depend on the timely delivery of undamaged goods so that they can ensure end customer satisfaction. To minimize costs and delays to the end customer, cabinets are often rush ordered from the manufacturer, which can postpone other scheduled CDS deliveries.

CDS was using a paper-based process in which cabinets were unloaded and stored upon arrival to the CDS warehouse, and the inventory was manually checked against the packing list. As cabinets were removed from the warehouse to be shipped, they were manually checked off on a piece of paper before being loaded onto the CDS truck. "We needed a way to reduce the number of displaced cabinets, increase the accountability of drivers, and better document the distribution process," says Steve Burgess, IT manager at CDS. To do so, CDS turned to VAR CSSI to deploy a custom software solution and CN2B mobile computers from Intermec.

Since February 2007, CDS has deployed 311 Intermec CN2B mobile computers to its drivers and warehouse employees. The Intermec CN2B computers begin tracking shipments as soon as they leave the manufacturer, with the user notifying CDS when a truckload of cabinets is on its way. The notification includes a packing list in an EDI (electronic data interchange) format that is downloaded to the computers and compared against incoming inventory. Once an order is ready for delivery, the cabinets are loaded onto a truck. When the cabinets are delivered, the driver confirms the order using the CN2B mobile computer. This confirmation is uploaded to CDS' mainframe system and transmitted to the manufacturer.

The CN2B computer includes a bar-coding system that has improved the accuracy of the CDS billing process. With the old system, a customer may have been billed for the entire order even if a cabinet was missing. "The new bar-coding system enables the customer service department to bill for the exact number of cabinets delivered," says Burgess. "Today, we only need to research .75% of our invoices. This is a vast improvement over the old system."

According to CDS' CFO, Bill Kabernagel, CDS has reduced shortages 44% since the implementation of the Intermec/CSSI solution. "The solution has reduced the number of errors we were making, and, as a result, the solution has enhanced our value to the customer," says Burgess.