By Philip Jarrett, Director of Sales & Marketing, BEC (Systems Integration) Ltd
For any company operating partly or wholly within the distribution sector, cost-effective, accurate and timely delivery of goods has to be a non-negotiable. You not only need to ensure the right goods are delivered in the right quantity to the right customer within the right timeframe; you also need full tracking and traceability of the whole transaction process. With this in mind, BEC now offers a new ePoD software application that is more than fit for the task. The eSmart Proof of Delivery (ePoD) application is the ideal solution whether you are delivering your own products or someone else’s items to the customer.
The overriding benefits of ePoD are:
- Reliable and accurate proof of delivery and collection in real time, enabling you to bill customers quickly and with confidence.
- Human error is minimised and the reports enable you to resolve invoice disputes.
- Easy integration with your existing systems, with the use of web services or file import/export.
Available as an off-the-shelf solution, ePoD software can also be customised to suit the precise needs of your business due to its modular format. Modules include:
Warehousing: When a delivery vehicle arrives, ePoD enables you to book goods into a predetermined location in the warehouse. Once ready for delivery, operatives use a handheld device to pick items and load them onto a van. This process applies to individual items and batches, with the application showing expected vs. actual quantities on the vehicle.
Vehicle Inspections: ePoD leads the operator through checks to ensure that the vehicle is fit for use. Reports are then made available on the dashboard and handheld device. This helps drivers to produce evidence that they have complied with regulations.
Task Management: Enabling the configuration of routes, drivers and vehicles, the ePoD application uses GPS for location and route planning. You can schedule tasks for a particular driver and update the system with new jobs throughout the day via the dashboard or file import.
Deliveries: Providing reliable and accurate proof of delivery and collection, ePoD enables the customer’s signature to be captured via a handheld terminal. The device can be used to take a photo of the goods to show lack of damage. This photographic evidence is watermarked with the time, date and GPS location so you can resolve customer delivery / invoice questions quickly. Drivers can also record the delivery status (Deliver, Fail or Card Left), issue automated triggers to send to customers, and enter their own reasons for delivery failure.
Return to Depot: When items are returned to the depot, they are booked off the vehicle via the ePoD application.
Customer Surveys: The ePoD application can also be used to obtain feedback from customers.
Designed to be device and operating system agnostic, the ePoD application is installed on each handheld terminal. The devices use Wi-Fi and/or 4G LTE to communicate directly with the hosted server rather than your systems. Whilst some operations may take place in a ‘store-and-forward’ mode to offset connectivity issues, ePoD provides near-real-time updates to the server and dashboard when the devices have a signal.
BEC offers two methods of integration between the host system and ePoD, using developer APIs or web services. Because the ePoD application is modular, we can develop integration modules for most third-party systems, depending on customer needs. We have successfully integrated with systems such as Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV, Agresso, InspHire, Oracle DB tables, MS SQL DB Tables, Ortec, and numerous other systems via CSV, FTP and web services.
BEC will store, archive and configure your data on secure servers for retrieval as and when required. For customers with a large volume of photo data and needing cost-effective storage, our system will offload photos from the database to cloud-hosted bulk storage.
Additional key features within ePoD include:
Hosting: ePoD is hosted in an off-premise third-party UK data centre, using Windows Server stack.
Dashboard: The web dashboard is served by IIS and the back-end database is MS SQL Server. The dashboard can be used to manage users, tasks and locations, and to send messages to the driver.
Branding: The dashboard and application can be customised with your company’s brand, logo and colours.
Printing: You can print from your handheld device straight to a mobile printer (including barcode labels).
Reporting: Any details of the status of the delivery can be confirmed in real time on the system’s dashboard and appropriate reports compiled. ePoD can produce graphs, tables and printed PDFs as well as customised reports.
Full support packages are also available, complete with managed helpdesk. Tailored options allow you to have an out of-the-box or bespoke service offering that will meet the needs of your business:
EMM Priority: For Enterprise Mobility Management software only, we offer SOTI MobiControl (www.soti.com). We can install, configure and even host the software package for you – and our first-class support for the product comes as standard.
Hardware Priority: For hardware sales only, you can log a faulty device. We work directly with the manufacturers on your behalf to complete the RMA for you to ship with the device for repair. Once your warranty is due for renewal, we’ll give you a courtesy call to explain the options.
Gold: This is a fully managed service that enables you to report any issues with your devices to us. We then either resolve the issue remotely or log the fault with the manufacturer and provide you with a completed RMA form to ship the device. We will then reconfigure the device when it has returned from the manufacturer and will ship it back to you – tested, fully charged and ready to deploy.
Platinum: As for Gold, plus enhanced services such as buffer stock management, ‘pack and collect’ or out-of-hours support.
So, for reliable and accurate proof of delivery and collection in real time, the eSmart ePoD system from BEC has to be worth further investigation.