Managing Mobile Workforces and Assets
The term mobile resource management (MRM) refers to the products or services used to manage mobile field workers and assets, such as vehicles, delivery trucks or trailers. As global positioning system (GPS) technology has advanced over the last decade, it has brought another layer to MRM systems. The latest technology connects GPS navigation and tracking capabilities on mobile or smart phones to deliver a fully integrated MRM solution. Current products on the market help companies boost employee productivity, control costs and manage risks.
According to industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, “The productivity, customer service and cost benefits of mobile resource management solutions are becoming increasingly clear-and forward-looking businesses are turning to MRM solutions to establish a competitive advantage in their respective industries.” Frost and Sullivan expects that the North American MRM market will exceed $1 billion in annual revenues by 2012.
System CapabilitiesAny organization, large or small, that has employees in the field can benefit from the information provided by a GPS-enabled system. Using mobile devices, GPS navigation gives employees the ability to receive turn-by-turn voice and onscreen directions to job sites or other locations. If a turn is missed, the system can quickly re-route the employee and get them back on track to their final destination.
Web-based GPS tracking and reporting solutions also provide immediate access from anywhere regarding the location of field workers, along with the ability to track the status of jobs; assign new jobs based on current locations of workers; and run reports detailing job stops, driver speeds, timesheets and more.
In addition, as gas prices continue to rise, organizations need the ability to see the total mileage driven by mobile workers. Mileage tracking not only increases vehicle performance, but helps with transportation regulations and reporting.
Wonders of WirelessThe wireless solutions offered by GPS-enabled MRM systems provide manufacturers with a broad range of benefits. MRM systems can improve employee productivity by providing the ability to clock in and out with the simple touch of a button on a wireless device. This helps workers save time and fuel by not having to come into the office before starting a job.
Systems can also allow managers to send new job details to employees on their mobile devices. This not only cuts down on miscommunications between dispatchers and field workers, it also helps improve overall customer service by making sure the closest worker responds to the job request. It also increases the accuracy of arrival and delivery times.
As we continue to move to a “paperless society,” organizations should research systems that use wireless forms to help eliminate the massive amounts of paperwork typically used in businesses with mobile workers. A GPS-enabled solution should give managers and employees the ability to share job information between mobile devices and a Web-based system. Employees should have the ability to instantly input job details and even manage inventory. Some solutions on the market also give mangers the ability to receive reports on odometer readings or speeds of vehicles.
Many organizations are now taking advantage of barcode scanning directly from wireless devices. This gives employees a more accurate and tamperproof way to enter information, and it eliminates the need for manual data entry.
Integrated SolutionsTypically, comprehensive MRM solutions are based on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which means that all of the data and information is hosted on a server at another location. The advantage of an SaaS system is that an organization can access the solution at any time, from any location using a computer and Web browser without having to worry about installation, IT infrastructure or investment. MRM systems enable manufacturers to instantly get more out of mobile workers, assets and equipment; reduce fuel, field labor and administrative costs; better manage risks associated with mobile employees; and increase employee satisfaction and safety.
For more information regarding mobile resource management solutions, contact Tele-Nav, Inc. at 1130 Kifer Rd., Sunnyvale, CA 94086; (408) 245-3800; fax (408) 245-0238; or visit www.telenav.com.
SIDEBAR: Case StudyWith several different manufacturing locations, delivering materials to suppliers and construction sites is a large focus for Pine Hall Brick. After analyzing operating costs and practices, the company realized it needed to find a way to take advantage of technological advancements in the industry. Specifically, it was looking for ways to improve delivery methods and lower transportation expenses.
The company saw immediate results after implementing a GPS-enabled MRM service. Delivery drivers began utilizing the turn-by-turn GPS navigation capability on company-issued mobile devices to save time when driving to construction sites. Drivers also cut down on wasted gas and mileage accrued, as they did not get lost while en-route to a location. In addition, the service gave management real-time visibility into the trucking fleet through online monitoring. By utilizing the Web-based tracking service, Pine Hall Brick was able to identify current positions, estimate arrival times and assign delivery jobs to the nearest driver.
“Day-to-day operations are a seamless process because we now have accurate information on truck locations,” said John Richardson, transportation manager at Pine Hall Brick. “This has led to more effective use of resources and has improved our customer service. We were also pleased with the acceptance and use of the GPS technology by our drivers. They voluntarily adopted the service and are now using driving time more effectively. The knowledge of driving speeds, length and location of stops and past driving routes has proved invaluable.”
More than 25 truck drivers use the system on a daily basis at Pine Hall Brick. The technology is also included on another 15 contract trucks, allowing the company to observe the entire delivery fleet from its Madison, N.C., dispatch offices.