The rugged tablet PC has gone from being a handy amenity to a critical tool, all along the supply chain. Nowhere is that more evident than in the world of consumer goods packaging and distribution, where versatility and agility are vital for continued success, even survival.
Manufacturers and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies face stronger-than-ever competition and more-demanding-than-ever consumers whose expectations continue to evolve. Out of self-preservation, retailers have become as exacting as their customers. It’s no wonder, then, that everyone is searching for efficiencies at every turn, especially ways to streamline logistics that remain cumbersome and expensive.
A rugged tablet PC is designed to promote efficiency, with powerful capabilities and comprehensive toughness that can withstand variable, real-life working environments. The rugged tablet is helping change the way manufacturers, packaging and delivery operations get products to market.
The marketplace expects more customized products and packaging, faster delivery and closer-to-home shopping, without any loss of selection. As a result, we’re seeing:
- Localized retail configurations with store-level differentiation.
- Tightly-targeted consumer groups.
- More specialty packs, promotional bundling and assortments.
- Shorter lead times.
- More frequent, smaller deliveries to more locations.
To respond adequately and competitively, packaging and distribution companies need a more flexible supply chain and the ability to plan deliveries more strategically. As a result, we’re seeing significant growth in:
- Outsourcing of primary packaging.
- Multiple secondary packaging requirements.
- Regional distribution centers instead of central warehousing.
- New forms of collaboration.
Individual companies and 3PL providers are combining dedicated and shared space for greater flexibility and efficiency of packaging, warehousing and transportation services, sometimes even labor and office staff. In turn, this new focus on agility and uncovering opportunities for sharing within the industry is helping streamline packing processes and support just-in-time shipment.
It’s exactly the sort of environment in which a rugged PC can really shine. The versatility of well-equipped hand-held mobile tablets puts the latest solutions directly into the hands of personnel at every touch-point, enhancing all aspects of packaging and delivery operations with:
- Wireless communication.
- Powerful computing.
- Barcode and RFID readers.
- Other integrated applications and peripheral interfaces that support detailed in-the-field work.
- Real-time capture and upload of data.
- Instant information retrieval by anyone, anywhere, any time.
Without rugged tablets these new systems and processes -- and the opportunities they represent – would not be possible, let alone cost-effective. With the latest technology at hand, though, distribution and packaging companies are seeing significant benefits such as:
- Faster, more accurate inventory control with lower on-hand needs.
- Reduced waste due to spoilage or obsolescence.
- Fewer out-of-stock problems.
- Fewer stock transfers.
- Reduced transportation costs, thanks to shared warehousing and shipping.
New shifts in thinking and the obvious benefits of sharing have created new working partnerships, resulting in substantial time savings and cost efficiencies for everyone. But the more players there are, the more important coordination and timely communication become.
A rugged tablet PC’s innate abilities support right-now inventory monitoring and merchandise flow. Personnel throughout the supply chain can quickly detect delays or other snags, instantly share the information up- and down-line and make necessary alterations. Working together allows all parties to consider further efficiencies, as well.
One thing is clear: FMCG companies and manufacturers will continue to face a tricky balancing act between consumer demands and economic realities. How are you using a rugged tablet PC to make your operation more efficient?