Kodys implement solutions for TNT Express Worldwide
Kodys implement mobile computers for the project Mobile Worker.
TNT Express is one of the largest global shippers of express consignments, and every week it ships more than three million different packages, documents and heavy consignment. In order to provide professional services, the company TNT Express uses the latest technologies – its systems TNT Wap Tracking, TNT SMS Tracking and TNT PDA Services have multifaceted use, minimise administration and save customers’ time. Through the use of these systems even those employees who often work outside the office can be in constant communication. The system Web Tracking allows customers and employees to monitor the movement of all consignments in the TNT network 24 hours a day regardless of where they are in the world.
In view of the need for constant improvement of services for clients, TNT wishes to introduce the high-tech technology Mobile Worker on a global scale which will make it possible to connect the mobile terminal of a courier with a system using which TNT customers can monitor the movement of their consignments. TNT Express in the Czech Republic has the greatest economic growth of all the global branches of the company, and so it was logical that the new technology was tested here first in pilot operation, and the first introduction of the new communication system was launched here too. Mr Nebojša Vasiljevič, Country Operations Manager TNT Express ČR, is responsible for the project Mobile Worker ČR.
What was the course of the project in time?
The project itself was decided on outside the Czech Republic. In 2004 it was decided that it would be initiated and that it would also include other countries – Portugal, Singapore and Finland. In addition to the fact that the Czech Republic is one of the fastest growing countries in TNT, the decisive factor was that there is a generally high standard of technology here.
In November 2004, it was evident that three firms would compete for the order and a decision was taken concerning the pilot states in which the project would be initiated. In the Czech Republic we narrowed the selection to two competing technologies, of which one was supplied by the firm KODYS, spol. s r.o. from Symbol Technologies. We have been working with the firm KODYS, as the authorised partner of Symbol Technologies in the Czech Republic, for several years now, and we have also been using equipment from Symbol Technologies for a long time.
When we knew that the offered technologies perform the functions we specified – use outside office for couriers, on-line communication, use of GPRS and Wi-Fi – test operation was initiated. During test operation we concurrently used terminals of Symbol Technologies and a competing firm. The aim was to ascertain how these terminals function and how couriers work with them and also to verify security and transfers of data etc. During these tests, the firm Kodys gave us full technical support, as a result of which we managed to operate these terminals without problems. Then the results over a period of three months were internally evaluated by our IT headquarters in Great Britain, and only then did we adopt a final decision, on the basis of which the firm KODYS supplied us with the Symbol terminals within six weeks.
What was decisive for the acquisition of the system Symbol Technologies from the firm KODYS?
There are many similar technologies, but Symbol Technologies really is the best because it has a patent on the system which most suits us, and moreover the company Symbol has shifted its main service centre to Brno, where TNT Express also has a branch. The decisive factor for acquiring the Symbol terminals was their excellent resilience and reliability and top-quality service support, which is crucial for the successful delivery of consignments. For couriers who visit 30 to 50 addresses every day where they can easily drop the terminals, resilience is very important.
The service provided is also a crucial thing. We have also concluded a Gold level service contract which ensures next-day repairs. The quality of the technical support during the testing of equipment was primarily decisive for the selection of the firm KODYS. The correctness of this choice was then demonstrated, amongst other things, during the use of the terminals in full operation, when the firm KODYS helped us to set up the terminals and to install the terminal chargers in the couriers’ vehicles. We have been working with the firm KODYS - which is the only Premium Business Partner of the firm Symbol in the Czech Republic, which is a guarantee of the highest quality of customer service – for several years, and we have always been highly satisfied with this cooperation.
How did communication with couriers used to function and how does it function now?
In the Czech Republic, where we have hundreds of vehicles in operation, radio communication and mobile telephones were used, which was expensive. One of the reasons for the introduction of Mobile Worker was that it used the GPRS technology, which is cheap, ensures secure operation and is stable. Since the introduction of the new technology, the work of couriers has been simplified – they do not have to constantly listen to radio transmissions with the head office. This has also increased safety for drivers and other road users, which we pay great attention to.
But the courier also has greater responsibility, because he has taken over several functions of the dispatcher. This means a saving for the firm, because in the past as the number of couriers increased, so did the number of dispatchers and also computers and office space. Now it is sufficient to organically increase the number of couriers as the number of customers grows.
Could you describe how the process of consignment delivery takes place now?
When consignments come to the Czech Republic, they are stored at depots. Couriers are present at the sorting of consignments and scan them. In the past, when using conventional terminals, after scanning they had to go to the office and there the data from the terminal would be fed into the system. Today the data is transferred automatically, in the depots we use Wi-Fi technologies, for which the terminals are equipped, for transfer. A courier then delivers the consignments and at the same time picks up new ones. The procedure is that service takes the order, inputs it to the system, and the courier then receives a requirement to pick up the consignment. When delivering a consignment, the courier inputs the necessary data, and this is then transferred to the system. Before this, data was available only by the evening (apart from special services), when the couriers returned to the depots. Data about distances driven and time information is also automatically saved. Up till now it was necessary to write this information manually. Now the internal system automatically calculates it as a result of the available information.
Who currently uses the system Mobile Worker and what is the future for it?
By the end of the first quarter of this year, all our couriers throughout the Czech Republic will use the system Mobile Worker fully. We have started in segments – at first in Prague, and then the other areas. By the end of March 2005, the entire republic should be covered.
At this moment Mobile Worker is available for our couriers, but this year we are also planning its use in depots. We are also considering using this technology for our sales representatives so that they do not have to return to the office and can transfer data about meetings automatically. This would increase their effectiveness.
Will this equipment be used globally?
At present the Mobile Worker technology is used in 12 states, and this year the number will expand to 28 and gradually to other countries where TNT operates.
How many items of equipment and which ones has the Czech branch bought?
Ninety-six mobile terminals MC9000-S. These terminals are distinguished by an abbreviated keyboard reduced to basic numerical and function buttons, and they do not have handles. In terms of resilience, the MC9000-S meet the most demanding criteria, and they are thus suitable for the mobile collection of orders, sales and all places where the frequent reading of barcodes and wireless communication (WLAN or GPRS) is required. They are equipped with the operating system Windows Mobile 2003.
What were the costs of the project?
We have thus far invested CZK 5.5 million into the project, and this amount includes equipment and software. We have calculated that there will be a return on the investment into the project within five to six years, and in addition it will earn 40 percent of the invested amount as a result of savings and increases in clients served.
Which benefits have already been realised and which ones are expected in the long term?
There has been a clear improvement in communication between TNT Express and the customer, who receives online information about the movement of a consignment. The speed of information transfer in particular has been increased. There has also been an increase in the work effectiveness of dispatch, the workers of which do not have to contact couriers by telephone anymore to ascertain information about the movement of a consignment. The speed of the process of consignment sorting has also increased because couriers themselves can perform this task. The customer service has thus reached a first-rate level, and the qualifications of couriers, who are no longer mere drivers, are being increased. Moreover, the connection of the system with the sales department continues to significantly improve contact with the customer.
TNT Express is one of the largest global shippers of express consignments in the field of B2B. Using a network consisting of almost 900 depots and loading stations, every week it ships around 3.4 million packages, documents and heavy consignments to more than 200 countries. It operates more than 19 000 vehicles and 42 cargo aircraft and has the largest air and road infrastructure for door-to-door shipping of express consignments in Europe. TNT Express employs around 45,000 workers around the world and has operated on the global market since 1946.
TNT Express began activities in the Czech Republic in 1992. It employs more than 300 workers, and in the entire process of consignment delivery it places extraordinary emphasis on quality, which is evidenced not only by the certificate ISO 9001:2000, but also the standard IiP (Investor in People). This globally acknowledged certificate recognises the high quality of the firm in the area of personnel work and management of employees. In November 2005, the company TNT Express gained the National Award of the Czech Republic for Quality – the most significant award given for quality management.
The company TNT Express operates its Internet pages in the Czech Republic at the address: www.tnt.cz, you can find the corporate web page of TNT Express at www.tnt.com.