"The ePod really is revolutionary. It is an unmanned, on-site, self service portal which allows our customers to gain access to the tools and equipment they need, exactly when they need them," explained Glyn Matthews, Speedy's Senior IT Project Manager. "A huge added benefit is that the accurate tracking provided by the RFID solution helps our customers save on hire charges. They only pay for the time the equipment is out of the ePod."
In today's tough economic climate time is money and Speedy's customers were finding that daily deliveries to construction sites were not adequately meeting their equipment and environmental needs. Delays were arising as workers waited for tools and equipment to arrive. The alternative was for customers to go to one of Speedy's 320 depots during normal trading hours and collect tools but this can be a costly and unproductive use of time.
"Having worked with Codegate on the successful implementation of an electronic proof of delivery (POD) solution, and during conversations regarding the ongoing development of that project, we discussed the need to design a solution that would allow Speedy to leave equipment on site that could be accurately tracked in and out of a secure environment,"
Codegate, an independent mobile software solution developer, designer and systems integrator, liaised closely with Speedy to come up with a functional specification of an ePod which would serve as the entrance to a standard Euro shipping container. The ePod was designed to be equipped with a Motorola RFID scanner which reads the data from Speedy's individually RFID tagged tools and equipment, stored in the container. Specialist manufacturer Omni-ID developed the RFID tags. Since the original specification, the design of the ePod has further evolved so that it becomes the secure entrance to a storage area of any size from a container to a warehouse.
To enter the ePod portal, authorised users each of whom have been issued with a unique identification RFID key fob, simply present their fob to the entry panel which reads the RFID code. This code also determines the language in which audible instructions are given during use. If the user is indeed authorised the door to the ePod is released.
Once inside the ePod, which has three chambers, users will find themselves in the first chamber, the walk-through portal. Here they will be greeted by the audible instructions welcoming them to Speedy Services and explaining that they will now be scanned for electronic tags. Scanning determines whether the user is carrying tools or equipment to be returned to the storage area. Once the scanning is complete the door to the storage area itself is released. The user enters the storage area and selects the tools and equipment required and returns to the walk-through portal within the ePod. Here the RFID tags attached inside the tools are read by the RFID scanner. When scanning is complete the door to the ePod is released and the user exits.
The equipment and tool hire data captured by the scanner is immediately transmitted to Speedy's back office system where it automatically generates invoicing details and updates Speedy's 'MySpeedy' extranet, designed to give customers real time information on their tool hire usage.
When equipment is returned to the ePod storage area the process is reversed, with the exception of equipment which has been damaged or is in need of service. These tools are returned to the ePod's second chamber, the damage return area. Again details of the damaged or faulty equipment are automatically sent to Speedy's back office system so that an engineer can be scheduled to carry out the necessary repairs or the tools can be collected and replaced.
As equipment is scanned for return it is immediately taken off hire and as users returning tools exit via the walk-through portal they are scanned to see if they have collected any more equipment.
The third chamber of the ePod contains the IT cupboard which is locked to users and contains a custom control module designed and built by Codegate. Essentially this is the 'brain' of the system which integrates all the key electronic components including RFID scanner, GPRS router, computer and digital I/O board.
The ePod automatically creates a unique online movement report for every hire transaction supported by an entry and exit photograph, helping Speedy's customers see exactly who has used what equipment and when, enabling them to look at ways they can improve utilisation of equipment and prevent damages and losses.
As well as providing the benefits of 24/7 availability and consolidated invoicing for its customers, the ePod delivers business benefits for Speedy. By reducing the need to make deliveries to its customers' sites it is able to cut costs associated with its vehicle fleet and importantly, reduce CO2 emissions in support of Speedy's ‘One Plan’ ongoing commitment to improve the environment.
"With all transactions being visible to our customers it is likely that we will see a marked reduction in administration around customer queries and resulting paperwork," commented Matthews. "The accurate tracking of our tools and equipment will help us to analyse customer usage and improve our inventory accounting."
"This unique and versatile RFID solution is yet another example of the expertise of Codegate's designers and software developers to deliver mobile tracking solutions which exactly meet the demands of its customers," added Matthews.
As evidence of Codegate's expertise within the mobile software solution marketplace and the importance of the Speedy solution, Codegate was awarded 'The Most Innovative Mobility Solution' for its design and development of the ePod at Motorola's recent Channel Partner Conference.
About Speedy Services
Founded in 1977, Speedy is the leading provider of equipment rental and support services to a wide range of clients across the construction, infrastructure, industrial, rail, manufacturing and facilities management sectors - as well as to local trades and industry.
Operating from over 325 fixed sites - together with a number of on-site facilities at client locations throughout the UK, Ireland and the Middle East - the company supplies a range of services.
Codegate, an Oxfordshire based independent mobile software solution developer, designer and systems integrator, specialises in mobile computing, track and trace applications for businesses with remote workers. Codegate’s mobileworker solutions allow businesses to monitor, measure and manage people on the move.
Codegate’s partnerships with leading rugged mobile hardware providers including Honeywell, Intermec, Motorola, Psion, Toshiba and Zebra, ensure that it delivers tailored mobility solutions which exactly meet its customers’ requirements.
For further information please visit: http://www.codegate.co.uk or connect with Codegate on Twitter and LinkedIn
For more information contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 1189 657967