Mobile tablet solution provided by Box Technologies helps to improve critical quality assurance processes at Poundland

The recipient of the Discount Retailer of the Year 2011 at The Retail Industry Awards, Poundland¨ has become a high street phenomenon. With increasing sales and more than 380 stores, the huge number of deliveries handled by the two main Midlands-based warehouse hubs requires the latest in technology solutions to ensure that Poundland's supply chain keeps pace with demand.

The Challenge

Poundland's Quality Assurance Team, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the timely delivery of goods to stores across the UK and Eire in order to keep up with the ever expanding product range. The deployment of a comprehensive solution to check and record items being delivered became a priority for the IT team. Long time technology solutions partner Box Technologies was tasked with providing a truly mobile solution to increase accuracy and of course, productivity.

Poundland had a solution in place that only partly solved the problem. Its shortcomings came from the fact it was trolley based, cumbersome, and comprised a laptop, scanner, and camera, powered by a mobile battery pack to ensure the solution could last the shift. In an environment alive with forklift trucks and constant movement, the Quality Assurance Team found itself having to interrupt its work in order to allow the traffic to go past. Being trolley based, there was also an added problem of getting the unit between pallets during busy periods.

The challenge was to find a solution that was not only mobile, portable, and compact but one that also incorporated all of the required technologies needed to allow the Quality Assurance team undertake their tasks with increased productivity. Finally, it was the clear and quantifiable cost savings delivered which convinced Poundland to acquire the solution offered by Box Technologies. The tablet device enabled Poundland to replace multiple different elements of the legacy hardware. Long term cost reductions in terms of maintenance and support costs could be realised with just one device doing the job previously performed by four.

The Solution

The increasing sophistication and functionality provided by tablet based technology seemed to offer the ideal platform. Box Technologies worked with the team at Poundland to specify a tablet device incorporating all of the required functionality.

The Motion F5 PC developed and manufactured by one of the leading vendors in the industry, takes technology into the field to streamline multiple processes and improve mobile workforce productivity. For Poundland, the objective was to roll out a solution which enabled a rapid and accurate quality control procedure through the use of one portable device. As goods are delivered into the warehouse, every box must be opened and samples of the goods checked. Type, quantity, colour and contents must all cross reference against the existing database, and of course, in real time. When discrepancies are found images must be taken to record these and where new items are taken into stock, these must be entered into the database.

The IP54 rated F5 has enabled the Quality Assurance team to operate with one device that captures data via a barcode scanner, integrated 3.0 megapixel digital camera and a web cam.

The ergonomics of the lightweight device with its slip-free grip and moulded handle make it an ideal design. It is built to be carried all day, to survive bumps or drops and enables data capture while standing or walking. For hands-free operation Poundland equips the tablet with straps and a safety harness. Its gorilla glass provides the strength needed within tough workplace environments and View Anywhere¨ technology ensures excellent viewing of all kinds of documentation and images whatever the light source.

In operational terms, the device provides Wi-Fi, Bluetooth¨ wireless connectivity and optional mobile broadband with Gobiª connectivity (WWAN) for real time data transfer. The device has powerful processing capabilities and is available with up to an Intelª Coreª i7 vProª. It has an extended battery life to cope with the most demanding shift and incorporates a hotswap battery feature which eliminates downtime when changing batteries. This superior performance and level of functionality within such a portable form-factor answered Poundland's requirements precisely.

The Conclusion

With the Box Technologies enabled solution, the Quality Assurance team can go about their work more quickly and through increased flexibility and greater mobility, can improve its productivity levels. An added bonus is the reduction of interruptions for the fork lift drivers.

This wearable and portable solution has revolutionised the task of the team. Mick Corbett, IT Solutions Leader at Poundland, confirmed this. "The Quality Assurance team have a mission critical task to perform. Our expansion and increasing range of goods that we can offer our customers means that the task will continue to expand and evolve. The introduction of the Motion F5 tablet has brought huge benefits in our abilities to check the quality of goods, and the speed with which we do that. Finally, we have eliminated the need for a bulky and multi-faceted approach to one that brings the best of state of the art technology together in one lightweight and portable device."

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