DSV is a major global supplier of transport and logistics solutions, employing 25,000 people in 59 countries. In the UK, the company has a staff of 2000 across twenty plus locations, administering over 150,000m of terminal storage and over 700 vehicles. By constantly striving for innovation and applying continuous improvement processes to enhance efficiency and help customers reduce supply chain costs, DSV stays at the leading edge of product development within the transport industry.
DSV Road is also the largest member of Palletline. As the UK's leading hub and spoke delivery network for palletised freight, Palletline is wholly owned by its member companies and was specifically created to enable customers to transport small palletised consignments or part vehicle loads of freight across the UK and Ireland, cost-effectively and on time.
As part of its continuing commitment to a high service quality ethos and investment in IT and infrastructure, Palletline required its members in early 2008 to be able to produce an electronic proof of delivery (POD) for each consignment. Member companies were given until 7th July to comply, or face a heavy fine.
Combining the need to deliver instant track and trace information for all DSV's international consignments with the requirement of the Palletline membership, DSV went in search of the ideal solution. Driven by the need to move quickly, but keen to find the most cost-effective answer, DSV looked at a number of alternative options, and settled on digital pen technology from Destiny.
"Technology plays a significant part in getting the right efficiencies into our operation", says Rene Falch Olesen, MD of DSV UK. "The core of our business is giving good physical delivery, and also good delivery of information to our customers. So the way we look at technology is that it has to be something that pays for us in terms of efficiency, therefore not imposing a cost on our customers."
The solution: Destiny's innovative Reload service
The pressure was on to have a working pilot system up and running in just four weeks. To meet this deadline and facilitate round the clock working, Destiny involved the development team in their Australian company, who worked closely with UK project management, development and infrastructure colleagues.
One of the key requirements was to make the operation as easy to use as possible, with minimal need for training or change to working practices especially important for contract drivers working infrequently for DSV, or those for whom English might not be their first language. The simplicity of using digital pen and paper was therefore instantly appealing.
Another major objective was to cut down on the time and administration cost involved in handling and reviewing the incoming completed consignment notes. Historically these had been scanned in via OCR on the drivers' return to depot a process that could lead to lost or incorrect data, as well as delays in resolving delivery issues while drivers were kept waiting.
Now, for each new consignment that forms part of a "transport", a form is printed at the local depot combining all the job delivery details with a unique embedded Anoto digital dot pattern. This pattern is sourced online in seconds from Destiny's servers. When the driver makes the delivery the customer signs the form and prints their name using a digital pen, and adds any other written amendments.
The driver then simply ticks a "send" box to transmit the data on the form via a Bluetooth mobile phone back to Destiny's servers. Here, the job is identified via the unique pen ID and dot pattern, and the pen strokes are processed and married up with the consignment details to recreate both a graphical image of the original form and a data file. These files are then instantly delivered to DSV's FTP site, and also where relevant to Palletline where delivery "track and trace" systems are automatically updated. The whole process - from the driver transmitting the data, to the completed files being available to DSV - takes less than a minute.
The speed of this operation means that the depot manager and administrators have a near real-time view of forms processed, transports and consignments completed, and deliveries still to be made. Using a customised website called Debriefer they can instantly view the details of every job, and be ready to deal with any issues by exception as soon as the driver returns. The GPS functionality on the Bluetooth mobile device also links into mapping software to further add proof of location at the point of delivery.
The results: simple and speedy POD at 10% of the cost of a PDA
Destiny's multi-national development team successfully created an initial solution within four weeks which met the agreed specifications. This meant that rather than taking several months of complex software development and infrastructure replacements followed by days of user training before they could enjoy the benefits, DSV were able to take rapid advantage of the very short "time to value" provided by digital pen technology.
Following a successful pilot involving 130 drivers, the system has now been rolled out to all of DSV's twenty plus UK depots and 700 drivers.
Consignment-specific data is quickly and easily added at local level to partially pre-printed forms. The process in the field is simple and familiar both for drivers and customers. After the data has been rapidly transmitted back, the rest of the operation is fully automatic.
Drivers have found the new system very straightforward to use. They appreciate the fact that it uses everyday technology (pens, paper and phones) while also making their jobs quicker and easier. Efficiencies and management control have been enhanced through more streamlined processes, more productive use of time, faster turnarounds and near real-time consignment "track and trace" capability.
Best of all, the prospect of having to use a complicated, expensive and conspicuous PDA has been replaced by a discreet and user-friendly alternative in the form of a digital pen at around 10% of the cost.
"We found that the digital pen was the one solution that was easy to roll out to our drivers", says Rene Falch Olesen. "It's easy to understand because it looks like a normal pen. There's a saving in the physical scanning of the document, and also a saving in the cost of the service. We know that the document is always going to be available, and it's now an integral part of our aim to give full "track and trace" visibility from the beginning of the transaction until the goods are delivered. Based on pen usage, return on investment is less than six months."
Edward Belgeonne, CEO and founder of Destiny, said: "We're delighted to be working with such a major global name as DSV, and to be delivering one of the first truly integrated POD solutions."
As for the future, a number of DSV operations in other countries and regions are watching the UK experience with interest. The system is now "plug and play" for DSV and it is expected that at least five more DSV countries will be utilising the solution by the end of 2009.
"The digital pen was the one solution that was easy to understand and easy to roll out to our drivers with big savings in time and cost of service. It's now a key part of providing full "track and trace" visibility."
Rene Falch Olesen, Managing Director, DSV UK