By swapping PDA-based dedicated scanners for Scandit’s barcode scanning solution on a smartphone app, ERS Medical’s couriers halved their barcode scanning time to complete critical medical deliveries significantly faster. The company not only achieved a robust track and trace system, but also significantly reduced TCO with a 90% reduction in hardware costs.
We are charged with the safe transportation of critical pathology specimens and it is important that we can account for their safe pick up and dispatch at every stage. By making use of the speed and accuracy of the Scandit barcode scanner app on smartphones, our drivers can do their jobs more efficiently and more easily, and we can monitor every part of this process to ensure it provides 100% customer satisfaction.
Optimize order picking with fast and accurate barcode scanning
ERS Medical (ERS) provides next-day and same-day specialist patient transport and courier services to the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the wider healthcare sector. Dedicated healthcare couriers securely collect and deliver items including pathological specimens, biomedical equipment, sterile equipment, internal mail and confidential medical records.
Reliable track-and-trace capability is a critical part of the service and, to achieve this, ERS links its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system with electronic data capture software. This means the delivery and collection of pathological specimens, many of which need to be delivered within strict timeframes, have to be coordinated to meet customers’ standards.
In the past, PDA-based dedicated scanners were used by ERS couriers to scan barcodes on delivery items. But scanning was slow and cumbersome, and couriers couldn’t access the satnav from their dedicated devices. Other drawbacks of the dedicated scanners included costs, limited barcode readability and lack of integration with the CAD software.
ERS was keen to find a solution that would enable improved barcode scanning and integrate with its own software, but which would not be difficult for its drivers to learn or use. The company was aware that using mobile devices was an option and that this would provide it with the cameras it wanted to use. Switching to entry-level smartphones despite the initial investment, would quickly represent a considerable saving and drive lower TCO by eliminating the need to use dedicated scanning hardware.
Replace legacy hardware with enterprise-grade scanning smartphones
ERS needed a fast, reliable barcode scanning solution that was simple for couriers to use and could be easily integrated with their existing software. After reviewing all options, they decided a smartphone solution with Scandit’s barcode scanning software best answered the brief. Plus, the smartphone’s built-in camera offered the prospect of new intelligence and security, making courier processes more robust.
Scandit’s experience in providing high-performance scanning to solve problems in other industry sectors was a big factor. Aside from the extra value afforded by linking physical items (via barcodes) to digital workflows, Scandit had a compelling cost proposition: switching to ubiquitous smartphones for barcode scanning would dramatically cut hardware costs and total cost of ownership (TCO).
ERS ran a pilot where drivers used a smartphone app powered by Scandit’ barcode scanning software to carry out courier tasks. The drivers took part in tests to evaluate the speed and ease-of-use of the smartphone solution compared to dedicated scanners. ERS reported that the smartphone solution was significantly faster and easier to use in all delivery scenarios.
Strengthened track-and-trace system with eight-fold cost saving in hardware
Following the successful pilot, ERS used Scandit’s software developer kit (SDK) to integrate with the CAD platform and distributed the smartphone app to their couriers. With the move to smartphone scanning, the company achieved a 90 percent reduction in hardware costs, which amounted to an eight-fold savings in hardware.
Faster scanning allowed drivers to complete their pick-up-and-drop-off schedule more quickly. The scanning functionality was robust enough to let ERS use much smaller barcodes on their pathological specimen bags. Even with the smaller codes, Scandit software scans multiple bags rapidly, improving overall efficiency. Drivers could also easily switch applications, for instance, from Google Maps to the scanning app on their smartphones, which saved them time in the delivery process.