Game Changers

For drivers on the go, mobile technology accelerates the road to value.

By Brian Beans

Scrambling to keep customers satisfied is certainly nothing new in the supply chain world, whether you’re in oil and gas, food and beverage, manufacturing, construction or other industries. But in today’s frenetically competitive environment, skyrocketing customer expectations and razor-thin profit margins are putting unprecedented pressure on fleet operators, transportation managers, route accounting/DSD teams and drivers to dramatically up their game.

As a result, companies are increasingly relying on mobile technologies to boost speed, responsiveness, efficiency, productivity and accuracy across the supply chain. Next-generation mobile solutions that integrate smart devices, innovative apps and industrial-grade mobile printers are playing a key role in fueling better bottom lines. Here are six ways mobile technology can make a game-changing impact:

1. Increase efficiency, productivity and real-time communications – Integrating advanced, rugged mobile printers with tablets and fleet management software has been delivering positive ROI for oil and gas transportation services thanks to increased flexibility and real-time capability.

Handling unplanned or redirected deliveries is easy, because the mobile solution enables drivers to easily calculate load and distance to create and print accurate delivery tickets on-site, in real time. The freedom to print accurate tickets, invoices and receipts anywhere, anytime – even in the face of inevitable last-minute changes – means customer transactions can be completed faster, and drivers can be on their way to the next delivery sooner.

Food and beverage driver productivity also climbs as delivery routes become more efficient, thanks to wireless, mobile and cloud-based route accounting/DSD solutions that automate and integrate functions such as location-based route optimization and strategic loading/unloading of trucks based on optimized routes.

As with the midstream oil and gas transporters, food and beverage drivers can use mobile devices to instantly and conveniently access customer orders, and efficiently print out all necessary paperwork, including invoices, receipts, returned goods tickets, product order lists, promotions and more.

2. Improve the customer experience and build customer loyalty – In addition to improving driver productivity, the ability to quickly and easily update or amend orders in real-time and then print new, accurate invoices saves time for busy customers, enhancing satisfaction. The mobile technology also saves time and strengthens loyalty by enabling drivers to print a sheet listing UPC codes for cases picked and delivered, which customers can use to scan their orders in electronically.

3. Strengthen compliance – Keeping pace with U.S. DOT and other government and industry commercial trucking regulations presents an ongoing challenge for transportation services. Super-efficient mobile or in-cab wireless printers make it easy to comply with new rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that require commercial truckers to be prepared to present e-log information to law enforcement or other officials on request. Drivers can quickly create and print e-logs, certified Hours of Service (HOS) reports, Record Duty of Status (RDS), incident reports and other regulatory forms required for compliance.

4. Support business growth and innovation – Mobile technology that includes fast, reliable on-demand printing streamlines existing delivery processes. In turn, this solidifies distributors’ current customer base and lays the groundwork for additional growth. At the same time, forward-thinking food and beverage distributors can capitalize on the technology’s flexibility and versatility to better serve customers and empower drivers and sales teams. For example, when incorporated into “mobile warehouses” at high-demand special events and outdoor festivals, mobile printers can support more efficient sales and product distribution. And generating bills of lading on the go is proving to be of great value in fresh and refrigerated long haul scenarios.

5. Sharpen your competitive edge – Profit margins remain slim in today’s still-volatile oil and gas market, making it essential to have mobile technology that automates and streamlines processes. Optimizing flexibility, responsiveness and communication with both drivers and customers helps fleet managers stay in the vanguard. In addition, replacing inefficient, time-consuming (not to mention frustrating) manual processes with automated mobile systems and printers slashes waste and driver downtime, bolstering the bottom line of companies in numerous industries, including food and beverage, construction, manufacturing and more.

Optimize Results With Technology 

It’s true that mobile technology is transforming the supply chain, but it’s also true that not all mobile technology is created equal. Be sure to ask these key questions when weighing your options:

• How easy is the technology for non-tech-savvy truck drivers to use comfortably? Make sure the printer is intuitive and simple to use, requires only a few hours of training and has features to be able to print from a tablet or smartphone.

• How easy is the technology to implement, update and maintain? The optimal mobile printing technology should have the ability to be implemented seamlessly with minimal disruption to the ongoing operations. Added pluses include cloud-based mobile deployment capabilities for remote configuration.

• What special features should you look for in printing technology? The non-negotiable characteristics for mobile printers should include fast printing speeds, seamless connectivity, rugged durability, a high value warranty and a long battery life. Follow the industry leaders and accelerate your company’s road to value by investing in mobile technology solutions that deliver the flexibility, versatility, durability and portability your team needs to meet – and exceed – changing customer expectations across the supply chain.

Brian Beans is the transportation and logistics industry specialist at Brother Mobile Solutions. Beans helps companies implement mobile and in-cab technologies that improve efficiencies on the road and in the enterprise. He can be reached at Brother Mobile Solutions Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Brother International Corporation, provides innovative mobile printing and industrial labeling solutions to field workforces and mobile enterprises. For more information about Brother Mobile Solutions, visit