In business for nearly six decades, Loveland Distributing is a major Miller/Coors product distributor in Virginia. An Intermec customer for over 15 years, Loveland's operations have benefited from the latest developments in supply chain and communications technology through the evolution of technology convergence and rugged mobile business solutions.
Eight years ago, Loveland switched to a pre-sales operation, and their mobile solution consisted of Intermec devices, cell phones and enterprise software. Up until 2009, this multi-component solution worked well for Loveland, until Verizon ended its support for the I700 and its existing legacy software solution reached the end of its lifecycle. With the progression of rugged mobile computing technology, cellular networks, and the convergence of new communication technologies, Loveland was in a position to leverage new cutting edge technology to enhance its operations. The solution would need to seamlessly integrate with their route accounting and warehouse management systems.
After engaging with over 20 software providers for a solution, Paul Collier, Loveland IT Manager traveled to the National Beer Wholesalers Association's (NBWA) annual convention and tradeshow to find a solution, when he met with software provider MiT Systems, Inc.
MiT Systems empowers leading consumer packaged goods (CPG) distributors to effectively and efficiently manage pre-sales, delivery, merchandising, logistics and route accounting operations.
With 18 pre-sales routes Loveland was in need of a personalized mobility solution that would enhance visibility into customer demand while also improving operational efficiency. A typical day for Loveland sales reps includes pricing and discounting beer, looking up account history, and entering and transmitting data to the warehouse management system for order processing and shipment. With the previous system it would take sales reps 2-3 minutes to transmit the data back to the warehouse, and due to the amount of downtime it was the practice of many sales reps to hold up to four orders at a time to not slow down their day. Because of this, Loveland would often see workers standing around the warehouse waiting for work.
Like many beverage distributors, Loveland's warehouse and distribution operations required a personalized solution that could address their specific business needs. After meeting at the NBWA convention, MiT Systems recommended its MiTEzSales Mobile for Pre-Sales, and their hosted Cloud Computing MiT EzWebRouter distribution solutions in conjunction with the Intermec CN3 rugged mobile computers.
"After a cumbersome software vendor selection process, it was a breath of fresh air to encounter a vendor that was not offering a solution they had in a box, but was willing to configure their existing solution set to fit us like a glove," said Paul Collier, IT Manager, Loveland Distributing.
In less than four weeks of the initial meeting, Loveland was up and running with the MiT Systems solution. The quick deployment was due in part to the solution being hosted in a Cloud Computing Environment on MiT Systemsââ¬â¢ servers. By hosting the solution in the Cloud, Loveland was provided with another critical business need, disaster recovery and backup, without having to invest in their own offsite servers and resources. Other benefits to MiT Systems hosting the solution included increased application speed, reduced IT related costs and no issues for Loveland to deal with regarding connectivity or server maintenance. With the Cloud Computing deployment model, Loveland only pays for what they use in terms of hardware consumption as capacity can expanded and contracted with their business as needed.
In addition to the MiT Systems software deployment, Loveland continued its preference for Intermec mobile computers because of the company's industry expertise and the rugged product design.
"Like Loveland, many of our customers are blue collar workers that need a rugged dependable device, that can host intuitive software solutions providing their workforce with the insight and technology that many enterprises and white collar workers depend on," said Mark Maraj, VP Sales & Marketing for MiT Systems, Inc.
The new system provides Loveland with the functionality they needed to improve the operational efficiency of route sales reps, which translates into less warehouse worker downtime. The MiT solution also enables Loveland customers to be treated with a more personalized experience due to the real-time visibility into account status and preference, making Loveland sales reps more knowledgeable and effective when selling product.
Since deploying the system in late 2009, Loveland's operational efficiency has significantly improved. The process that used to take three minutes per order, now takes only 20-30 seconds. Additionally, under the previous solution, orders used to be into the warehouse for picking and shipping at 7 a.m., the new solution has reduced an hour off of the process and ensured customers are getting their orders in a timely manner.
"While the distribution and warehouse processes are only a few simple steps, they are crucial steps that could mean the difference between extra sales and satisfied customers," said Collier. "We are looking forward to continued route optimization and worker productivity that will be gained from the MiT Systems and Intermec solution."