If a trader runs out of the necessary materials the construction site could come to a grinding in a worst-case scenario. For a trader it could prove costly. Future Transportation Systems at Mercedes-Benz Vans could soon offer traders a solution: The pilot project is called Mobile Material Service and is being implemented by Marthe Knudsen and Ronald Gasman, who aim to provide assistance using intelligently networked vehicles in partnership with Sortimo and fischer. Missing parts can be ordered by a mouse click and supplied directly in the van – even overnight if desired.
How is that supposed to work?
The solution is based around a Vito with an integrated shelving system equipped with "Near Field Communication" (NFC) tags. You can think of these NFC tags like digital scan codes. The trader scans them with their smartphone. An app gives the trader an overview of all of the parts that should be stored in their shelf boxes. The trader checks the actual number of parts in the vehicle, orders any materials that are missing directly using the app and provides the Vito's location as the delivery address. A logistician delivers the ordered materials directly to the vehicle. Another app allows the delivery service to locate the vehicle using GPS, as well as to gain access to and lock the vehicle once. The delivery service therefore wastes no time searching for the vehicle, and does not need to transport a key. The traders nevertheless remain in control. They can check on the status of the Vito from their own homes, and also check whether the doors are locked. The Vito then has all of the necessary parts for the start of the next working day, and the trader can get stuck in straight away.
Faster, more efficient and more transparent
Materials management plays a crucial role for traders. Traders order new materials about twice a week. Until now, missing parts have mainly been jotted down on a piece of paper, which the employee either hands over to the material requirements planner in the evening or they call the retailer to place the order themselves. The rate at which errors are made is huge, and errors cost time and money. The alternative is to build up stock, which is not very profitable due to the high costs of storage. The service therefore definitely makes sense in order to reduce storage costs and the potential for error to a minimum. This is because it makes ordering faster, more efficient, less prone to error and – very importantly – more transparent. The service gives the business owner insight into all order processes, and he or she can quickly cancel erroneous orders in cases of doubt.
In the pilot, we found that technicians spent up to 35 minutes a day less dealing with orders and procurement.
The team of Mobile Material Service currently has two vehicles in the field that are equipped with the latest connectivity applications. Mercedes-Benz Vans is integrating a variety of systems. As the partner in the pilot, the company Sortimo is supplying the shelving systems and the app for the traders. The company fischer is the other partner in the project. fischer provides the entire goods infrastructure, maintaining the connection between the traders and the logistics service providers. In order to expand the service to other sectors, a carpenter is now testing the solution for more efficient materials management (in this case in a Sprinter) in addition to a service technician.