Working with Barcoding Inc., a mobile applications company, Schenck replaced all its mobile equipment. On the firm's recommendation, Schenck chose Motorola® Symbol handhelds and Zebra® RW 420™ printers. The printers wirelessly connect to the handhelds, which are synched with Schenck's backend software, eoStar.
The direct thermal printers print receipts up to 4 inches wide at 3 inches per second. As the only mobile printer to meet the stringent IP54 dust- and water-resistance rating, the RW 420 withstands the weather and extreme temperatures that drivers encounter.
The company first tested five of the units for several months to assess their ease of use and durability. The trial provided two key benefits: Schenck gained greater confidence to invest in units for the entire fleet, and the test drivers became champions who got others excited about the change. However, most drivers were so frustrated with the existing equipment and manual processes that they readily embraced the new setup.
By choosing more rugged equipment from the start, Schenck did invest more than if it had gone with less durable devices. However, the investment will pay off in longevity.
"There's no way you can run a beer distributorship on non-rugged devices," Meckley said. "You can always find something that's cheaper upfront, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's cheaper in the long run. It was worth it to invest in equipment to not have delivery drivers recalculating invoices while they were out at a retail account."
In addition to investing in quality upfront, Schenck chose to add comprehensive warranties for the handhelds and printers to ensure replacement when they are damaged. When mishaps occur, Schenck sends the units in for repair under warranty as quickly as possible to minimize downtime.
Schenck also invested in a 10 percent spare ratio to prevent drivers from having to go back to paper and pen.
"When you take into account discounts and promotions, the pricing could change when drivers deliver," Meckley said. "It's not worth it for the drivers to recalculate an invoice when they're at retail. It's much easier to let the handheld do it and the printer to print out a hard copy than trying to write out a manual invoice."