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Companies persevering with progressive plans for expansion and securing operational efficiencies can make even greater competitive gains during an economic downturn.
As a hub and spoke delivery network for palletised freight, Palletline helps to provide companies with consistent high quality distribution services. A recent large investment by Palletline in the mobile computing hardware of UK-based manufacturer Belgravium is a positive indication of the role that service and product innovation can play in continuing to drive a business forward.
Innovation and investment has always been central to Palletlines core business strategy. In 2008, the company invested 20 million in new Central Hub premises based on a 15 acre site in Solihull. The move also called for a huge investment in technological improvements to the facility, developed to contribute further to quality and reliability, ensuring that customer freight arrives at its destination on time and in excellent condition.
A critical sub-set of this investment plan was the need to secure a hand-held terminal with a wide range of technical capabilities that would help support the drive towards complete transparency of operational data and the securing of tangible competitive advantages. Specifically, Palletline wished to appoint a partner to facilitate effective and efficient data capture, to record pallet movements at strategic points throughout the distribution process.
The key attributes that the supplier and unit would have to meet were defined as:-
User friendly, effective and efficient interface
Simple connectivity to host application
Fast, reliable and accurate capture of data, with long distance scanning
Ability to capture photographic images simply
Elimination of lost data risk
Ability to provide ultra-rugged hardware, designed to survive the rigours of the pallet distribution operation
Full technical resource and fit for purpose hardware
Flexible solutions, adaptable to future requirements
Palletlines initial research into mobile computers available in the current marketplace drew a conclusion that, in reality, an ideal device that met all parameters did not exist. As one of the UKs leading device manufacturers, Belgravium were already in dialogue with Palletline and they suggested they would meet the requirement via bespoke development.
This entailed finding a way of incorporating the new-to-market EX25 near-far imager into the Belgravium Boston 8500 series terminal. Palletline were interested in pursuing this option, but were conscious that the internal timescales for implementation of their project were very tight.
The Belgravium development team worked intensively on the development exercise and were able to present Palletline with a fully working prototype of the Boston, with integrated EX imager, within an incredibly short two week period! The ability to deliver a customised hand held terminal was a key determinant in Palletlines decision to place the order for 250 devices with Belgravium.
Allied to this were two other important issues. Palletline required a method of effectively managing such a significant number of terminals. Belgravium were able to supply their Remote Terminal Administration (RTA) software. RTA facilitated the effective management of the Boston terminals, namely:-
Fault diagnosis by remote technicians
Event logging of individual devices
Remote download of operating system upgrades and application software
In addition, Belgravium worked with Palletline to develop the customer application software required to interface to the host system. This included retaining the ability for those sites without the appropriate wireless infrastructure to continue operating on a batch mode basis.
Commenting for Palletline, Managing Director Kevin Buchanan underlined the importance of these technological developments to the future of the company. We are committed to driving efficiency and innovation in order to deliver the highest standards of quality in palletised distribution, he stated. Belgravium have clearly demonstrated their ability to work creatively and effectively to help us achieve this goal.