Bekins Taps Wireless for Faster, Smoother Deliveries


Its new service will be deployed by the end of next month  
JUNE 11, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Household moving company Hillside, Ill.-based Bekins HomeDirectUSA this week launched the Service Tracking Automated and Routing System (STARS), a wireless service designed to improve the tracking of shipments.
The service, built by IBM, Bekins IT, InterGis and Intermec Technologies Corp., will be deployed by the end of July to 75 Bekins distribution facilities and more than 800 truck drivers who provide delivery and installation service for numerous retailers.

STARS is designed to allow drivers to provide complete, route-optimized delivery information as well as inventory tracking. The information is managed on a handheld computer connected through cellular service and Wi-Fi to the Bekins warehouse and inventory systems and its Web order management system.

"In our business, the thing that differentiates us is the ability to give our customers constant information. Today, that is a manual process," said Gregg Bennett, president of Cardinal Trans Inc., a trucking business of The Bekins Co. "With the new handheld wireless devices, that becomes instant information at the point of pickup or delivery."

In addition, customers can track their deliveries online and find out when they can expect them, he said.

IBM Global Services integrated a Model 760 Color mobile computer from Everett, Wash.-based Intermec with IBM's field-force automation application and a unique route-optimization system from Torrington, Conn.-based InterGis.

The system provides real-time signature capture of point-of-delivery information, along with the ability to track and trace items through bar-code scanning at each point of the shipping process, according to the companies.

The route-optimization system provided by InterGis gives dispatchers real-time views of all customer, work-order and delivery information and allows drivers to load their trucks more efficiently and make better routing decisions, Bennett said.

"With this solution, we help optimize and manage the fleet," said Greg Smith, global segment executive for freight & logistics at IBM. "But it's not just about the fleet; we also help track and trace the freight."