Integrated Communications’ consolidation of Peapod’s delivery technology showcases the visibility and value it can bring to clients.
By Tim O’Connor
For a delivery company such as Peapod that makes tens of thousands of deliveries per week, even a few wasted seconds can have a snowballing detriment on efficiency. One of the most effective ways to reduce lost time is to streamline the actual delivery process, but before 2016 Peapod was still working on older technology.
Drivers communicated with dispatch centers via flip phone running Roadnet’s MobileCast application, used a GPS device for turn-by-turn navigation and kept track of delivery fulfillment using pen and paper. The company required a solution that automated all of those functions and it needed a provider that could source the technology and manage implementation.
It found that partner in Integrated Communications, a mobility solutions provider based in Raleigh, N.C. Integrated Communications recognized immediately that it could use an iPhone paired with a Honeywell Captuvo SL42 to consolidate communications, navigation and scanning into one device that would give Peapod better visibility into its delivery process. “Peapod outlined their needs and we produced a single solution that checked every box,” founder and President Chris Saunders says. “It’s like an easy button experience. We provided the right technology for their end game.”
Using iPhones allowed delivery drivers to scan packages on delivery then jump back into their trucks and immediately receive the routes to their next destinations. The efficiency of the solution saves 45 seconds to a minute on every stop, which generated enormous cost savings. Deployment began in August and by October Integrated Communications had deployed nearly 800 units to more than 30 Peapod locations across the country.
The success has attracted the attention of transportation companies across the country. “The success of this project showcases our ability to produce the right combination of solution and process to deliver an efficient and successful rollout.” Saunders says.
Embracing Consumer Devices
Saunders was working in corporate mobile sales in 2004 when he decided to leverage his experience to launch his own business mobility company. “I’ve been in mobility sales since my early 20s,” he says. “From the beginning, I knew it was going to be my passion and career path.”
Integrated Communications started as a cell phone provider for businesses, but over time Saunders identified opportunities to leverage smartphones to deliver complete logistics and tracking solutions. “We recognized a need for consumer devices to play an enterprise role in the transportation business,” he says.
Integrated Communications formed a partnership with Roadnet Technologies, a subsidiary of Omnitracs that develops cost-efficient routing and real-time transportation analysis tools. This helped Integrated Communications evolve from a communications provider to a true mobile integrator that brings together proof-of-delivery software, mobile device management, barcode scanning, vehicle mounts and device staging and kitting.
In addition to Peapod, Integrated Communications has provided solutions to numerous other companies such as Suddath Relocation Systems and food distributor Troverco, formerly known as Landshire. For Suddath, Integrated Communications developed an inventory management solution that allowed moving crews to scan items to confirm delivery. Quick implementation was a key selling point. Integrated Communications deployed 560 devices to 26 Suddath offices in less than three weeks.
Short lead times are possible because of one difference between Integrated Communications and other mobile integrators: the kinds of devices they utilize. Integrated Communications sources traditional enterprise-grade technology such as Honeywell and Panasonic rugged handhelds for some applications, but it educates its clients on the benefits of using consumer devices such as iPhones paired with Honeywell Captuvo’s or the Samsung Galaxy Tab-E, which are far quicker to source.
“The emergence of consumer devices in the enterprise is becoming mainstream for three reasons,” Saunders says. “They’re more powerful, less expensive and have a better adoption rate with younger drivers that are transitioning into the workforce.”
An iPhone equipped with a Honeywell barcode scanner costs about $700 while an equivalent enterprise-grade device can cost $1,500. Despite the pricing difference, many companies have been reluctant to switch to consumer technology because it has a lower drop rating and is far more likely to experience a cracked screen than enterprise-grade devices.
To overcome the delicacy of the devices, Integrated Communications partners with Sprint and leverages its Mobility-as-a-Service program, which provides consumer devices at no cost with a warranty that covers cracked screens. If a driver breaks an iPhone, it can be swapped out at no additional cost to the client.
Integrated Communications can offer complete mobility solutions because of the supplier partnerships it has fostered during the past 13 years. In addition to Sprint’s Mobility-as-Service program, the company sources Honeywell Captuvo barcode scanners for iPhones. Captuvo allows drivers to scan packages as they are delivered to eliminate the delays of paper tracking systems. “The marriage of an iPhone and Captuvo provides instant visibility at point of delivery,” Saunders says.
ProClip USA provided the in-vehicle mounts that hold and charge the devices. When developing Peapod’s solution, Integrated Communications wanted to streamline the usage of its smartphones, which are used for everything from turn-by-turn navigation to delivery scanning. Continuously plugging and unplugging the phone into a power source would add precious seconds to every delivery and adds up to significant time lost.
ProClip developed a custom dock that provides integrated charging, enabling the driver to simply dock and go. This added tremendous value for Peapod. “ProClip, in my opinion, is the best in the mounting business,” Saunders says.
Saunders has fostered close relationships with upper management of its partners. “When we need something done we know who to call to make it happen,” he says.
Integrated Communications’ close collaboration with its partners has created new opportunities for the company. Omnitracs, the parent company of Roadnet, has selected Integrated Communications as an Authorized Mobility Partner for its XRS ELD solution (electronic logging device). They are now one of the go-to providers of tablet and smartphone ELD technology to transportation fleets across the country.
“We are in the business of saving our clients time and money,” Saunders says. “What we did with the Peapod project is an example of what we do best.”