As the UK’s leading distributor of civil engineering, building and environmental products, Burdens Limited has seen its business expand into a national network of over 40 locations. Along with this physical growth, Burdens’ administration workload has also increased exponentially. Seeking an efficient solution to reduce reliance on paper based systems was paramount for the mutual benefit of Burdens, their customers and the supply chain as well as the requirement to automate its deliveries-to-invoice procedures and to streamline administration. To find this appropriate solution, Burdens turned to technology partner Airclic for an electronic proof-of-delivery (ePOD) system.
Airclic introduced Burdens to their OrderPerform product offering enhanced despatch board functionality with integrated ePOD technology.
Burdens chose to implement the solution on Motorola Windows-based PDAs, to best support the typical operating environments. Burdens is seeking a number of benefits from its ePOD investment. Primarily the company wanted the ability to eliminate the duplication of paperwork generated with each delivery and reduce the possibility for queries to arise when delivering mixed loads into a busy construction site.
“By moving to an electronic proof-of-delivery system we have reduced our reliance on paper systems and released our depot based administrators from many hours of non-productive document scanning per day. Across our business this time saving is equivalent to 9 full time employees and allows our administrators to devote their time to more productive tasks,” says Ryan Coles, Burdens’ Transport and Safety Officer.
The ePOD system will replace the traditional paper methods of delivery notification and recording used by the Burdens delivery drivers. The system is fully integrated with Burdens’ back office so that customer orders are imported directly and these are sent electronically to the PDAs. The live system updates each driver’s delivery schedule in real-time throughout the working day, enabling more responsive reaction to changing customer requirements and the opportunity to generate further activity efficiency through our extensive delivery fleet.
When a delivery is completed, the customer signs a signature capture screen on the PDA to record that his consignment has been delivered and is satisfactory, making any amendments as necessary and the proof-of-delivery is transmitted instantly (dependent on adequate mobile network coverage; if none is available the system retransmits as soon as the PDA finds signal or moves within range of the Burdens wi-fi network). Future plans will also allow for photographs to be taken for deliveries where no customer is available, providing time and date stamped evidence of an unaccompanied delivery, along with SMS pre-delivery ETA notification, and automated sharing of goods received notes with customers via email or XML for full back office integration.
When Burdens’ computer system receives the approved proof-of-delivery, the data performs an automated POD reconciliation and pre-lists the dispatch for invoicing. There is no additional data to be transferred or re-keyed into the system, which increases accuracy, efficiency, quality and timeliness of ex-yard customer invoicing.
Gary Hitchens, Burdens’ Customer Service Director added, “The pre-invoicing dispatch reconciliation process has always been key to our quality system and overall commitment to customers. This historically time consuming manual challenge for our branch and distribution management teams is now highly automated, enabling us to further improve the speed and accuracy of numerous distribution and invoicing processes. This in turn reduces the level of ongoing ledger administration for us and our customer base, driving enhanced profitability and stronger cash flow.
“Furthermore, Burdens utilise the XML capability internally to upload all signed delivery notes to our document management and customer service applications, along with nightly upload to our customer service portal - Unison Online. This external portal gives customers real time web access to all account information including credit status, sales history, transaction records (with full query annotation) and linked proof-of-delivery documents.
“Our ambition was to benchmark world class organisations in the delivery of this platform. In addition to Airclic, I would extend specific thanks and recognition to Staples, whose guidance and expertise as the second largest mail order distributor globally helped us to leverage our investment and upward specify a solution capable of meeting the ultra demanding expectations of the consumer logistics marketplace and also Delta Airlines’ cargo division, whose more specific advice around chain of custody and consignment security/tracking has helped us to further enhance the platform we’re now taking to our key markets and customers.” Gary Hitchens continues, “The solution makes a huge difference to our operation, allowing us to drive efficiencies across numerous business practices, and leverage existing business processes and investments without incremental time and overhead costs.
“The customer facing benefits, in addition to the overall quality enhancements, significantly improve our market leading e-Trading offering. The addition of robust POD/GRN XML offering (including signature) provides to customers the option of a fully integrated, fully automated order to invoice process - with evidenced 3 way matching within 24 hours of goods receipt.
“We believe this solution is both industry leading and world class.”