Success story: Digital order management with PM66

Success story erfal with PM66 Point Mobile PM66 used for digitizing delivery processes


erfal GmbH & Co. KG is a company producing high quality sun and insect protection systems as well as decorative items for homes since 1984. erfal offers tailor-made products, consultation service, and a comprehensive range of products. The majority of the products are made in Falkenstein, where the company is headquartered. Current interior design trends are taken into account as well as the requirements in the contract sector. In order to meet the growing demands of customers with regards to fast delivery and tracking in real time, the company uses PM66 computers from Point Mobile for data collecting. In combination with the 4mobile software solution developed by Nürnberg-based telematics specialist ght, the entire supply chain can be mapped digitally.

Digitization for optimized processes

In the course of time, interior decorators and specialist dealers increasingly have to face the growing popularity of online shopping and the importance of fast delivery capability. As an experienced specialist in the field of telematics and tachographs, ght took care of the technical implementation of the planned process optimization as well as the integration of existing IT systems. The ght team includes around 100 technicians, sales managers and IT specialists at seven locations in Bavaria. The 4mobile software interlinks order management in transport, logistics and service across companies. The system itself consists of a web portal and a business app which can be used on mobile devices. These devices send tracking or shipment information to provide the end user with prompt feedback about the whereabouts of the goods they have ordered. Through the transmission of GPS coordinates when scanning deliveries at the storage location, customers can easily find orders that they thought were lost. Digitization and improved communication through modern devices open up new ways for a multitude of logistical challenges.

Mobile data collection for tracking shipments

The logistics of erfal include its own fleet of 50 drivers with their vehicles. A sophisticated framework of tour planning enables fast and timely delivery to an average of 420 customers per weekday. The delivery area extends to every part of Germany as well as to the neighboring countries such as Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The goods are distributed over twelve transshipment points by night transfer. An average of 2,000 pre-picked packages for over 400 customers are then delivered to customers on 25 fixed framework tours every day. In the interior decorating industry and considering the size of the packages, this scale of operation is a unique selling point and has already been recognized by customers as the "best delivery service".

As an expert for mobile data collection devices, Düsseldorf-based expert Carema was brought in. With the divisional head of telematics of ght, Christian Neupert, numerous devices were examined, and after several tests Point Mobile’s PM66 was chosen for the job. It has a large 4.3” screen and an integrated numeric keyboard. With 1.5 meters of drop resistance and IP67 rating, the PM66 is suitable for field usage and capable of tracking deliveries via GPS. For erfal, Android as the operating system of PM66 was considered to be a great advantage along with the integrated physical keypad, since data be entered quickly and precisely. The roll-out of the devices was an immediate success because of the easy operation. Internally, the devices helped to coordinate and streamline general workflows. For example, thanks to direct transfer of data to the document management software, archiving delivery notes is no longer necessary. In addition, there has been a significant decrease in paper consumption ameliorating environmental concerns, since all delivery notes had to be printed twice previously. Thanks to the tracking of routes, existing tours can be optimized and altered temporarily or in the long term if necessary. All goods stored at the recipient’s location can be precisely identified by using geography-based data provided by the software solution. The visibility of the tour data the evening before for the following day enables the drivers to plan their departure times independently and determine the optimal start time. The fast transmission of all delivery notes into the document management system also made higher traceability possible in case of a customer inquiry. In addition, the tracking data can be used to check if shipments were delivered to a customer or if customers have been accidentally left out, which significantly reduces the error rate.

The project kicked off in 2013 together with ght, but it had high requirements that could not be technically realized at that time. It was not until five years later in 2018 that all requirements could be fully met with the market launch of the PM66. The current expansion stage of the project includes the mapping of internal communication via the mobile devices, for example, using Microsoft Teams and an attendance recorder function. The approximately 6,100 specialist dealers are mostly supplied with their own logistics chain to deliver quickly and, above all, safely. With its own fleet of 50 vans and three trucks, it is possible to keep transport damages low. The PM66 is specifically used to transmit orders to the driver, scan the delivered products, send signatures and names when a delivery is received, as well as scan parcels at the warehouse followed by sending GPS data. With the vehicle cradle, the PM66 can also be used for navigation in trucks and charged during the operation.

Further optimizations already being planned

According to the current planning stage, more functions will be added in near future: "In order to trace return consignments more accurately, they will be digitally scanned and recorded as a next step," says André Tamma, project and logistics manager at erfal. Also the quality management will receive information about when the products arrive. By implementing these new functions from the second quarter of 2021, the tedious work of manually assigning customers to each work is no longer necessary, while processing will be significantly faster.


Learn more about erfal     
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Read this article in German ident magazine     
Product page of PM66     
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