DPD uses Circlon Mobile Life Cycle Management to increase the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of its device inventory

For a logistics giant like DPD, upgrading its entire device inventory at regular intervals is essential for efficient operation. The handheld devices used by the depots and delivery drivers are generally so beat up after a few years that they have reached the end of their service life and can no longer be used cost-effectively. For a new generation of mobile computers, it was necessary to find a complete solution that promised cost-effective and efficient use over the entire product life cycle.

In DPD’s most recent upgrade of its mobile IT, over 12,000 delivery drivers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Benelux had to be equipped with powerful Dolphin 99EX mobile data recording devices from Honeywell within just a few weeks. As a long-standing mobile IT partner, PDS supported international parcel and express delivery service provider DPD in the selection of a suitable device, implemented the roll-out of ready-to-use handheld devices in an extremely short time frame, and now provides continuous support through a custom-adapted Circlon Operate Portal for efficient device management and the smooth replacement of faulty devices. PDS has since offered this complete service over the entire life cycle of mobile data recording devices, smartphones, and barcode printers to all customers under the name “Circlon Mobile Life Cycle Management.”

Hardware – selection, evaluation, procurement

The starting point for the joint project with DPD and PDS was the selection of an individually optimized mobile computer that was state of the art and suitable for continuous use. PDS compiled an initial short list with three handheld devices from different manufacturers in line with the customer’s instructions: the devices had to be “functional, robust, [and] reliable.” After an in-depth evaluation and a pilot phase involving extensive practical tests, DPD chose the newest generation of Dolphin 99EX mobile computers from Honeywell.

The heavy-duty Dolphin 99EX model was specifically designed by Honeywell for demanding use in the logistics sector both indoors and outdoors. The mobile computer is very user friendly thanks to its ergonomic design, easy-to-operate keys, and easy-to-read display, and the hard-wearing model can withstand repeated drops on hard surfaces. Data transmission is fast and reliable via Wi-Fi and 3G and makes the device a versatile handheld mobile tool. A deciding factor for choosing this model was the “Remote MasterMind” device management software from Honeywell, which can be used to easily update and maintain the device software via remote access. With a total of 12,000 devices to manage, this approach not only saves time but also money.

DPD ordered the Dolphin 99EX through PDS, which as a top Honeywell partner offers the best terms and conditions and competent service. DPD and PDS worked together to draw up a road map for the smooth roll-out of the devices to the depots and delivery drivers and set out the framework conditions for integrating the new solution and service concept for the device inventory.

Roll-out in the quickest time

PDS has been working with DPD for many years. DPD was happy to place a new order with the independent specialist in mobile IT, with its wide range of hardware, comprehensive roll-out services, and the Circlon Asset & Repair Portal, a Web-based RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) and asset management system developed by PDS for the management and servicing of both small and large device inventories. DPD was able to take advantage of the benefits of the portal to full effect as early as during the roll-out phase. PDS preconfigured the system so it was set up for DPD’s management structure (depots, inventory administrators, etc.) and already contained the master data (addresses and roles), manufacturer-specific error and repair codes, plus details on the device manufacturer and the relevant repair centers.

During the final phase of the “initial data dump” the handheld device data recorded during the roll-out – consisting of the manufacturer, device type, serial number, and depot assignment – and the associated equipment such as device holders for vehicles and charging cradles were imported into the Circlon Operate Portal.

During the roll-out itself, the 12,000 Dolphin 99EX handheld devices were fitted with SIM cards and DPD software and their batteries were fully charged. PDS sent up to 300 devices a day to around 100 depots in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Benelux. The roll-out of the new mobile computers to the DPD delivery drivers was completed within eight months.

Smooth operation

DPD and the route managers manage the device inventory in running operation using the Circlon Operate Portal. While headquarters is able to keep an overall eye on all handheld devices, the depots have access to information on the devices assigned to them on the multitenant portal. The route managers can use the portal to order ready-to-use replacement devices for delivery within 24 hours, look up the repair status of faulty hardware, and check their device use.

If a handheld device is faulty, the Circlon Operate Portal first offers specific instructions and suggestions for possibly fixing the device without external help, such as checking the battery charge or restarting the software. If the mobile computer still is not working, the user generates an RMA (Return Material Authorization) on the portal with a predefined error code and places an order for a replacement device through an automated e-mail sent to PDS. PDS sends a new, fully functional handheld device with up-to-date software and a charged battery to the depot in question in less than 24 hours. The delivery comes with an RMA shipping document and an address label with the address of the relevant service center of the device manufacturer. The user then just has to accept the replacement device, place the faulty device in the package, and send it to the service address.

“By upgrading to the new Dolphin 99EX and combining that with the Circlon Operate Portal, which is tailored to our needs, we are equipped for future increasing transactions,” says Mario Spatz, MDU Responsible, International Process at DPD Dynamic Parcel Distribution GmbH & Co. KG. “The service portal and Honeywell Device Management Remote Mastermind provide important benefits in terms of transparency in device management and help us maintain our performance even at peak times.”
Mario Spatz, MDU Responsible, International Process at DPD Dynamic Parcel Distribution GmbH & Co. KG

Optimization potential at a glance

Both the depot and headquarters can see the entire claim, exchange, and repair process at any time on the Circlon Operate Portal. The serial numbers of the faulty and new devices are stored here, along with the RMA number and the current status of the individual steps.

The recorded data allows for conclusions to be drawn about the efficiency of device use and the service concept. Detailed statistics functions such as the “repair quota” help depot managers minimize downtime and further optimize processes. Monitoring the data from the Circlon Operate Portal and the mobile device management system also makes it possible to draw conclusions about the influence of new software releases and the functionality of the devices in use and their components, such as the batteries.

Efficient and cost-effective device inventory

Since the introduction of the Circlon Operate Portal in 2013, PDS has replaced up to 40 devices a day for DPD. PDS keeps around 300 devices in stock for this 24-hour replacement service. The easy process keeps the workload manageable for the depots. Thanks to improved communication between the depots, headquarters, PDS, and the repair centers, including preventative measures for protecting the devices and instructions for simple self repair, DPD has recorded a return rate of 10 percent with the RMA processes overall from the start. The repair quota was able to be reduced further through special workshops for route managers. After the most recent training session in April 2015, which incorporated the results from long-term reporting, the number of claims fell by a further 30 percent.

By introducing the Circlon Operate Portal, DPD increased the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its device inventory during operation. As a result, route downtime due to non-functional devices stays within manageable limits especially during peak times such as the Christmas period.

The final phase of Circlon Mobile Life Cycle Management is coming in just a few years: at that point PDS will support its long-standing customer DPD in the roll-in and proper, environmentally friendly disposal of the devices as they reach the end of their service life. And thus the Circlon circle of 360° support will be complete.

Case study PDF: DPD – Honeywell – PDS “Managing the Entire Product Life Cycle of Mobile IT”