RailCare is a Swiss transportation provider that acts as a full subsidiary of Coop Group Cooperative, one of Switzerland’s largest retailers. The company offers combined transport of all kinds of goods, both for Coop and for third-party customers.
RailCare deals with a dynamic logistics environment. Rapid changes in shipment volumes and customer needs require quick adaptation. Yet the company found itself dealing with cumbersome, paper-intensive processes that no longer fit the needs of the modern supply chain.
Paper-based processes did not easily fit into RailCare’s workflows. They tended to cause errors along the numerous interfaces within RailCare’s supply chain, and did not enable real-time visibility. As a result, the company had to be notified by drivers, rather than its central planning office, of problems as they happened. Decision-makers often did not discover issues until it was too late to make changes, stop the processes, or start them over again.
However, RailCare has been deploying mobile smartphone apps equipped with Scandit Flow, a cloud-based data capture platform including the Scandit smartphone-based barcode scanning engine. This replaces paper-based collection and tracking of supply chain data with mobile information management.
As a result, the company can now discover problems as they are occurring and proactively intervene. RailCare can resolve issues before they affect the customer or notify customers of delays before they occur. The company has also been able to streamline several critical workflows and gain supply chain efficiencies.
For example, the transportation app digitally provides drivers with work assignments. This automatically lets drivers know what they need to do, which truck they must use, which shipping container they need to load and where they need to drive. Previously, drivers needed to retrieve their assignment from the office, find the truck and look for the shipping container with the truck. This meant that each driver had an enormous amount of responsibility, which often resulted in delays and mistakes. The app allows RailCare to prevent or even eliminate these errors.
Another example is a daily scheduling app. In RailCare’s previous paper-based process, the driver was only informed about their schedule for the upcoming two or three hours and received information for the rest of the day in an ad hoc manner.
With the new Scandit app, the company can plan the entire day in advance. Drivers now have an overview of the day and can better plan personal breaks and know approximately when they will return home in the evening. This enables more efficient use of drivers’ time and also represents a major improvement to the quality of life of the employees.
RailCare has also achieved significant cost savings as a result of switching from paper-based to mobile app-based supply chain management. Prevention of inaccurate deliveries eliminates the financial impact of rerouting shipments and ordering new goods.
Furthermore, smartphones offer a total cost of ownership (TCO) as much as five times lower than dedicated scanning devices or mobile computers. Savings are achieved through lower initial investment, lower maintenance costs and ease of app upgrades. In addition, as most employees are familiar with smartphones training is much faster. RailCare can also leverage smartphones for multiple purposes, such as communication and navigation, further delivering financial benefits.
“Part of what makes the Scandit technology special is the price, since the price-performance ratio is absolutely convincing,” said Philipp Wegmueller, CEO of RailCare. “But it also provides a great deal of speed and stability. In our opinion, the stability of the scanner is unmatched and it automatically ensures a high level of acceptance among workers when it’s time to launch a new app.”
Looking ahead, RailCare is considering expanding the use of Scandit Flow to enable smartphone app-based management of processes such as fuel purchases, claims management, and customers’ general stock-taking of goods. RailCare sees the utility of smartphones as major advantage.
“The smartphone is our digital pocketknife,” concluded Wegmueller.