Saturday, December 1, 2001

Palm handhelds deliver mobility to growing ice business

When drivers returned to the office, they had to count the money, add up the invoices and total them by cash or credit sales, and then balance their route financially. The invoices would be keyed into the Lotus Approach system to track operational data and into the general ledger system.

"On a hot summer weekend we might make 500 to 600 deliveries a day, and we sell five different ice products," Gorman said. "All of this made the old paper-based system time consuming. It could delay delivery during a hectic day because a driver had to balance his first route before he could reload his truck and go out again."

Finding a "Beta" way to automate order management and delivery

With the number of deliveries continuing to grow, the company needed to update its order management and delivery process to:

  • Eliminate all data entry;
  • Streamline the dispatch process;
  • Communicate route changes to drivers out on the road (and be sure they get the info correctly);
  • Reduce overtime of drivers when they're in the office balancing the money;
  • Make more and better operational data available;
  • Ensure the accuracy of the data going to the financial systems.

Realizing that handheld technology might provide a better way of managing the delivery process, Rosenberger Ice began researching handheld systems to see what was available for direct store delivery. "We found several off the shelf systems, but they were expensive