Bekins HomeDirectUSA Taps Wireless for Smooth Deliveries

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CHICAGO, IL - 08 Jun 2004: Agent service providers for Bekins HomeDirectUSA, the world's largest mover of large consumer durable products, now have a service edge thanks to a wireless system built by IBM, Bekins IT, InterGis and Intermec that provides pinpoint accuracy of shipments and event information.

The new service, called STARS (Service Tracking Automated and Routing System), was announced here at the IT and Business Process Conference.

STARS will be deployed to 75 Bekins Distribution Facilities and more than 800 drivers who provide delivery and installation service for retailers, such as CostCo and QVC, to consumers across the U.S. They now will be able to provide complete, route-optimized delivery information, as well as real-time inventory tracking. All this is managed on a handheld computer that's integrated though cellular and WiFi technologies to the Bekins warehouse and inventory systems and its Web Order Management System. The Web site will inform consumers exactly when that high-definition TV can be expected at the doorstep.

Benefits of wireless connectivity to agents include the ability to accurately pinpoint delivery locations at all times, access software for optimal efficiency in deployment of trucks and drivers, and longterm cost savings for gas, mileage and vehicle wear and tear. A pilot of the wireless route optimization system was rolled out in February, 2004, with additional roll-outs planned across the U.S. at mid-year.

"My business involves more than a dozen trucks and millions in inventory moving across the state of Virginia at any time," said Gregg Bennett, president of Cardinal Trans Inc. "The ability to take time and cost out of loading, scheduling and delivering goods is my competitive advantage. The IBM-led system Bekins is using helps me deliver that advantage and puts customers first."

IBM Global Services integrated a Model 760 Color mobile computer from Intermec Technologies Corp. with IBM's field force automation application into a unique route optimization system from InterGis, a company that has a track record of cutting 20 percent out of delivery agents' costs. The system provides for the real-time signature capture of POD information, along with the ability to track and trace items through bar-code scanning at each point of the shipping process.

"The system helps us achieve one of our core strategic objectives -- 'franchise-like' service, where our agents benefit from automated processes," said Randy Valentino, vice president and CTO, the Bekins Company. "We are offering our agents a unique delivery mechanism which allows us to deploy functional changes to the handheld application once synchronization to the Bekins servers is established, keeping the system at top performance at all times."

"Our HomeDirectUSA delivery business is growing 50 percent each year, so efficient delivery and the highest possible levels of customer service are paramount to support our growth," said Larry Marzullo, CEO at Bekins HomeDirectUSA. "We anticipate our agent/owners can realize marked savings -- as much as 20 percent -- on fuel and vehicle wear and tear simply by optimizing loading and routes. In addition, the customer service benefit from this IBM/InterGis/Intermec wireless system will help us grow sales and while dramatically improving our service levels."

IBM Global Services integrated IBM software and hardware with partner technologies to provide the Bekins solution. The Intermec 760 provides up to three radio communication options in a single device for local and wide area wireless communications. It can read bar codes and supports photos and signature capture, which closes the delivery loop with the retailer. The route optimization provided by InterGis gives dispatcher's real-time views of all customer, work order and delivery activities, allowing for better loading and routing decisions.

In addition IBM Global Financing developed a financing package for Bekins that covers devices, servers, software and IBM application development services.

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