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Going mobile …. Again

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
March 18, 2011

One of the questions that interested me when I did this month’s story on the mobile supply chain is the state of mobility in the supply chain collaboration space.

I had a chance to talk to Young Kim, director of product management in the US for Take Solutions, a supply chain collaboration platform. Turns out mobility is on their minds as well.

“To me, mobile means the ability to do the task wherever the user is located,” Kim told me. “We were driven into that space in recent years because of the reduction in work forces. Many of the people who user our solution and have to make decisions are not tied to a desk.”

Take has added a mobility architecture to its solution so that a mobile worker can receive e-mail and text alerts on a cell phone in an alert queue regarding exceptions or issues that need to be addressed. “Every exception that requires a decision is treated as an object that gets put in a queue,” Kim said. “If you check the application or the queue on a regular basis, you’ll see everything that is awaiting approval.” Meanwhile, Take is adding the ability to take actions, such as approving a solution or making a procurement decision from the phone.

Going into the story, I would have thought of mobility as the domain of supply chain software providers like Take or the traditional WMS and TMS providers. I was surprised to learn that automation providers like Dematic and Intelligrated were also developing mobile apps that are relevant to their solutions. That point was driven home the other day in a press release from Lighting Pick on the release of a mobile pick to light app.

The app is designed for managers and gives them a real-time dashboard of updates on their pick-to-light operations, including pick rates, area overview, order progress and overall facility statistics.

More importantly – and this is increasingly how the analyst community is coming to define a true mobile app – it allows managers to execute operational changes through their phones, such as running work plans, examining order details or box contents or running system diagnostics within a specific area if an error occurs.

As we think about mobility in the future, it’s going to be more than simply accessing information with a mobile phone or tablet through a mobile application. That’s little more than alerting. It’s linking those alerts with the ability to make a decision and execute a response from your mobile device.

That’s clearly where Take is headed, as are solution providers like Lightning Pick.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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