Handhelds increase speed, improve productivity

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by Emily Atkins
The teams needed a rugged device that could withstand drops to concrete or getting wet.

Bradford Airport Logistics manages airport receiving and distribution, including services, technology, security, supply chain management, and consultancy. The company focuses on “command and control” of all consumable goods entering the airport terminal, such as retail products, clothing, food products, FAA non-aircraft parts, maintenance materials, parcels, currency, and more. Based in Houston, Texas, the company has operations across the United States, in London and worldwide.

It helps airports reduce the number of deliveries per day by about 60 percent since all the consumable material goes to a Bradford facility first. Utilizing the company’s Airport Material Intelligence System (AMIS) at one central point, the team is able to receive, security inspect, consolidate, and deliver within highly precise time windows to end-users.

As the company started expanding to more airports, management wanted to improve processes and embrace worker mobility. They also wanted to improve delivery speeds to complete more deliveries per day. The solution needed to work with the company’s own AMIS platform.

Staff were slowed down by tasks such as manual data entry or image scanning when they returned from deliveries. Manual data entry slowed operations and could also lead to data errors. Beyond that, the old devices were beyond their useful lifespan.

Tunde Akeredolu, the company’s chief technology officer, wanted to eliminate manual data entry and image scanning. He wanted a solution that allowed delivery teams to scan material coming into the airport, capture signatures when they deliver material to vendors, and collect large amounts of data to feed into the AMIS system. He also understood the teams needed a rugged device that could withstand drops to concrete or getting wet.

Additionally, Akeredolu knew the company needed a solution that gave them visibility into every interaction of the delivery process from arrival to final drop off. He created a list of requirements: durability, connectivity, no stylus, integration to AMIS, scanner functionality, high processing power for large data sets, and ability to update the devices in real-time and security.

The company chose Zebra Technologies’s TC70 Rugged Touch Computer. It is purpose-built for the enterprise with high-resolution camera, superior voice capabilities and audio quality, Wi-Fi connectivity and it runs on the Android operating system with seamless integration into Bradford’s AMIS.

For companies in the transportation and logistics space, the solution ensures accurate chain of custody handoff during the pick-up process and delivery, with electronic signature capture and photo proof-of-delivery.

They company deployed the TC70 at five airports to start—including London Heathrow. Akeredolu said they planned to roll out the devices over two months, but it only took one week because on-boarding was simple.

“The whole organization embraced it right away,” Akeredolu said. “It was a tremendous success. Even in London where there are strict guidelines for training and on-boarding.”

Wes VanMeter, who manages Bradford’s operations in Cleveland, Ohio, says the TC70 plays a role in everything they do. “It starts when a vendor brings a delivery to our warehouse. We use the TC70 to track it, sort it, and prepare it for delivery to the airport,” VanMeter said. “It completes the loop for us with signatures, proof-of-delivery, security checks, and much more.”

It also ensures the right delivery is made to the right vendor at the right time. That data is captured and can be used to align various metrics for the leadership team as well as the vendors.

No longer manually scanning paper signatures into the system saves the team about four hours per day or roughly 20 hours a week because the signature can be captured on the device. Another example is the time it takes to scan a package—in the past scanning 40 boxes took 10 minutes, with the TC70 it takes two to three minutes to scan 40 boxes. All the extra time lets Bradford’s delivery team complete more deliveries per week and improve customer satisfaction.

Bradford continues to deploy the solution across other airports around the globe and is expanding service offerings at many of its airports. The solution helps make Bradford Airport Logistics a more intelligent enterprise overall, Akeredolu said.

“We’re smarter for it, we’re better for it, productivity has increased, we’re doing so much more.”