Tech to Connect: How to Share Delivery Data for Better Supply Chain Results

Is key data from your business systems easily shared with your supply chain partners, and vice versa?

Does your supply chain operate as an end-to-end digital ecosystem with an exchange of accurate real-time information between systems; enabling greater shared efficiencies, trust and collaboration?

If not – but you want the synergistic rewards made possible by exchanging intelligence with your supply chain partners – we’ll outline the technology to connect your systems and make this happen.

Why share information?

Thanks to increasing globalisation and customer demands, supply chains are longer and more elaborate than ever before.

While the gap between downstream supply chain activities and upstream business results is widening; the sharing of accurate real-time information end to end with supply chain partners helps compensate this by enhancing business visibility.

In fact, knowing exactly how your business activities interconnect, strengthens supply chain partner relationships. Which results in more opportunities to collaborate, maximise productivity and win more business.

A bridge across systems

Digital solutions and specific technologies make sharing supply chain information easy. A cost-effective delivery solution, that bridges diverse supply chain systems, would enable greater interoperability and real-time data exchange; creating an ecosystem of well-connected, collaborative supply chain partnerships.

Ideally, this would allow all systems, from international companies to single truck operators, to talk to each other; extracting and sharing valuable data in a standardised way. And, therefore, enabling fluid supply chain data visibility for next steps, such as invoicing, accounts payable, driver payments, contractor payments, HR management, performance measurements and so on.

Let’s review the technology features of a digital system that connects supply chain partners with valuable actionable information…

Gathering supply chain information

First, Internet of Things (IoT) devices that gather and transmit data into your digital system are fundamental. These are typical sensing and tracking devices that detect accurate physical characteristics about a product you’re moving through your supply chain.

For example, a pallet RFID tag is detected by an RFID reader as a unit load of known quantity is moved out of a warehouse; a GPS vehicle telematics device creates real-time location data for freight items in a delivery vehicle; a temperature sensor with a perishable product indicates the temperature conditions the product goes through during transport; a customer-signed digital POD on a smartphone signals a successful delivery, and so on.

Collating data about your freight products is the core information handled by your digital supply chain solution. Such an IoT system receives huge volumes of continuous data that provides insight for managing entire operations.

Further, advanced technologies transmit abundant real-time data to your digital system about how a process is being performed. For example, vehicle telematics devices, gather detailed information on how a vehicle is used in relation to how the driver behaves.

Unfortunately, the danger is that some businesses assume the data gathered from these devices is sufficient to manage deliveries effectively from end to end. While this could be true for businesses who dominate a supply chain or who have a short supply chain (i.e. minimal delivery steps), it imposes limits on what can be achieved in collaboration with the compatible systems of your supply chain partners.

Sharing and analysing delivery data

Second, we need to share real-time data from your frontline sensing devices to the connected backend business systems of your organisation and your various supply chain partners.

Specifically, Cloud technology delivers computing services via the internet. The ‘cloud’ allows your gathered data to be securely stored, shared, analysed and monitored in real time. In addition, smart IoT appliances connect to the internet constantly and seamlessly gather explicit data that can be rapidly exchanged with linked supply chain systems.

In combination, Cloud and IoT technologies use the internet to securely connect computing services with physical data-collecting devices. The connectivity of many devices and systems is key, enabling the continuous communication and exchange of data in real time.

A cloud-based delivery solution, such as Leopard’s Delivery Cloud – that automatically gathers and analyses supply chain data from sensing devices, in real time, and exchanges data with your supply chain partners’ systems – would be ideal.

A standard way to exchange information

Third, adopting industry standards as bridging protocols for exchanging data across varied systems promotes collaboration between supply chain partners. This enables rapid communications and responses to supply chain challenges faced by multiple partners.

A standardised method makes it easier for diverse systems to communicate goods and freight information to other supply chain partners who have systems with the compatibility to accept and understand your information.

GS1’s global industry-wide standards for exchanging supply chain information allow diverse systems to share data. GS1 Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Standards enable accurate data to rapidly exchange between compatible systems of discrete supply chain partners and numerous back-end systems. In effect, the various systems ‘speak’ the same language, doing away with expensive proprietary closed systems at odds with collaboration. In addition, GS1 Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) Standard is the industry-wide data language for communicating supply chain visibility ‘events’.

When communication is clear, confidence builds and visibility increases, making information flow better to all members of the supply chain. Trust is established between supply chain members, leading to faster collaborative decision-making, and pursuing new business opportunities based on real strategic advantages rather than inadequate approximations.

Communicating visibility

In addition to seamless data exchange messaging between linked mobility and business systems, voice technologies, that keep everyone informed and on task, can be invaluable.

 

Cloud-based push-to-talk applications allow instant two-way messaging and open communication channels between field personnel and other parties. Operators can transmit voice, from hands-free environments, or text messages through to a web-based portal for management to act on in mission-critical situations or to improve workflows in real time

Enterprises that take advantage of voice-enabled technology as part of their greater digital ecosystem’s data flow, further enhance the quality of their supply chain collaborations and business results.

Need an agile industry-proven solution that unites your mobility system with those of your supply chain partners?

Leopard’s Delivery Cloud solution, part of the Leopard mobility suite, is a cost-effective enterprise mobility solution for any supply chain partner needing to participate in your supply chain’s digital ecosystem. You simply subscribe your operators to the cloud-based solution.

Furthermore, Leopard Delivery Cloud can be expanded to a fully integrated delivery and supply chain solution that:

  1. Gathers all types of data from many types of sensing devices (including telematics),
  2. Shares and analyses data with designated linked business systems
  3. Uses global standards for exchanging data
  4. Harnesses voice communications.

In suitable consultation, either with Leopard analysts or your team using the specific API, Leopard Delivery Cloud can exchange critical data with backend business systems across your supply chain partners.

Ultimately, an extensive range of systems can be linked to exchange information depending on what you need to enhance your supply chain operations and partnerships.

To summarise, a holistic digital solution that maximises supply chain partnerships will:

  • improve visibility putting you in control to make better decisions and solve problems
  • increase productivity when you streamline processes and eliminate redundant workflows
  • reduce costs by minimising errors and disruptions, and proactively managing risks
  • enhance your customer experience and loyalty by providing a personalised delivery experience that’s better than your competition and delights your customers
  • win new business from new opportunities revealed by your trusted supply chain partnerships.

Why not give Leopard a go?

You’ve got nothing to lose and supply chain efficiencies to gain. Get in touch today to discuss your supply chain needs. Plus we’ll happily put you in touch with some of our clients so you can hear their stories and find out if a similar Leopard enterprise mobility solution could work for you.

Contact us now on 1300 LEOPARD.

Rapid Mobile Device Deployment: Nationwide 2000 Device Hardware Rollout Delivered In Weeks!

Getting ready for a big mobile device deployment

Who do you engage for mobile device deployment when you’re one of Australia’s largest logistics providers, at a critical expansion phase, coming into the busiest time of the year, needing 2000 new rugged mobile devices deployed fast?

On top of handling large device numbers in short time frames, an experienced hardware partner—who can proficiently manage the entire process without business disruptions—will prove vital to your success.

An established partnership between this national logistics provider and Leopard Systems allowed an innovative hardware solution to be delivered nationwide in record time, achieving their enterprise mobility objectives during peak season.

Yet some companies, without an enterprise mobility solution partner, buy devices that sit idle in warehouses for months…if not years…instead of getting their mobile devices rapidly deployed.

Therefore, we ventured behind the scenes of this unique large-scale enterprise mobility rollout – to highlight the value of partnering with an expert team; from initial hardware advice, through to a fully-functioning nationwide mobility fleet solution.

 

We spoke with Leopard Systems’ Operations Manager, Ben Green, and Systems Engineering Manager, Chris DeLeon, to find out how this important project was successfully delivered by the Leopard team.

Know-how from the start

 

It begins with meeting with the national logistics company to discuss exactly what they need, their equipment options and the project investment.

In short, the project required 2000 new rugged mobile devices for two autonomous business divisions. Additionally, there was a requirement for 3200 charging cradles and as many matching charger cables for the new devices along with the retrofit of 1200 vehicles already in the field.

Applying our deep knowledge of vendor hardware products, extended warranties, connected hardware services and other necessary requirements, Leopard Systems carefully scoped the project and presented the best possible contract and plan to the client. Every effort was made to meet the client’s enterprise mobility requirements, and ensure they had adequate services to address any technical issues and manage updates in the future.

Satisfied with the terms, the client approved Leopard’s proposal. Almost immediately, the equipment was ordered from overseas. The four to six weeks to ship the new equipment to Leopard’s Melbourne distribution and service centre was sufficient time to plan the deployment and prepare the software.

A plan for success

In collaboration with our client, Leopard Systems mapped out all contingencies, process steps, timelines and requirements of the project in detail.

The team determined the necessary services, how the new devices were to be processed through Leopard’s distribution and service centre, what software and peripherals (i.e. cables, sim cards, cradles) were needed, how the devices were to be shipped, where they needed to go, what cables needed to be customised, and so on.

“By scheduling and prioritising everything, we got well organised during the lag time. That’s the key to achieving a rapid large-scale rollout like this one. We know the final delivery date and work back from that providing for all contingencies to ensure we meet our client’s terms”, said Ben.

Such detailed planning reduces unforeseen risks and errors, and ensures a smooth, rapid deployment. In short, every device will reach its designated end-user, ready to go.

Robust software for rugged devices

Concurrently with the planning, the Systems Engineering team managed the production of the final software image for the new devices.

Leveraging Leopard’s proprietary automation technology, the Systems Engineering team compiled all the client’s important software components, device settings, network parameters and system configurations, to create a ‘staging image’ for the new devices prior to rollout.

 

Mobile devices in the staging area for testing

“Our role is highly technical. Although it’s a seemingly simple and efficient process for the client, behind the scenes all our expertise and experience come into play. We’ve been doing this since Leopard began; our technical knowledge guarantees a successful large solution rollout”, said Chris.

Every device detail and software setting were considered. Extra components were included in the staging image to allow future software fixes and updates to be handled remotely via Leopard’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) service. With Leopard’s ongoing support, this fleet of devices will have minimal field errors and negligible downtime.

Software gets the green light

Following the preparatory work, the staging image was put onto several test devices and sent to the client for thorough User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

A strict sign-off process ensures the client is 100% happy with how the software works on an actual device after full testing in their day-to-day operations. Once final client approval is provided, the exact software version is given the green light to be installed on all the devices.

“The new software must be completely tested by the client. The last thing we want is to send out 2000 devices with an error on it, and get 2000 complaints in return! Thankfully, the UAT devices and our approval process prevent this from happening, saving all parties a lot of headaches and concern…”, Ben commented.

All hands on-deck to unpack & process

When 27 pallets of hardware stock arrived at Leopard’s secure storage warehouse, the physical set-up of each device began in earnest. The distribution team unwrapped 20 boxes per pallet, then unpacked 10 devices from each box. Each device was tested for function and loaded.

Using Leopard’s exclusive staging process—installing mobility software, rapidly and accurately, for hundreds of devices per day—the client-approved software image was transferred onto 2000 new devices.

Additionally, an asset number was added to each device at this step, to ensure our client could easily track and manage individual devices in their new fleet.

 

Mobile devices are received, prepped to the customers requirements and then wrapped up ready for delivery direct to the fleets.

And, off they go!

After Leopard’s fast software staging and efficient cable modifications, which was completed in under two weeks, the deployment of this new mobility hardware solution to the field was rapid. Every device, cradle and cable were systematically inspected, tested and checked off before being repacked into boxes for rapid deployment from Leopard’s distribution centre.

Consequently, the client quickly harnessed more business revenue because they could respond to the needs of their market effectively and efficiently with the new hardware solution.

Getting cables ready to go for a mobile device deployment
Getting cables ready to go for a mobile device deployment
Cabling for a mobile device update and deployment

Deploying a box of value

Buying best-fit hardware devices is a key component to a successful enterprise mobility solution. In addition, the software, operating system and correct setting configurations to install are important, as are the technical support staff and in-house expertise to manage a largescale deployment and ongoing device services.

Fortunately, Leopard Systems have over 25+ years’ experience with the roll out and management of large mobility projects – just like this one.  Leopard’s tried-and-tested systems and processes along with the highly skilled and knowledgeable staff, work together to guarantee a successful deployment that’s fast and efficient.

As you’ve discovered, Leopard Systems don’t just ship you a box. They deliver a device that’s packed with value, ready to switch on and work in the field from the moment the box arrives.

 

 

If your company is facing a challenge to get your enterprise mobility solution off the ground, or you need to hasten your device deployment, speak to Australia’s largest enterprise mobility solution provider, Leopard Systems today.