Co-winners Qualcomm and Motorola: A whole new angle

Gardner Denver, Ce De Candy take wireless route to better business performance

By Jim Fulcher, Contributing Editor August 1, 2008

Market leaders constantly search for new ways to improve business performance—whether through enhanced business processes, or better use of existing technology.

Often they do both.

Two such market leaders are Gardner Denver Inc. (GDI)and Ce De Candy . Their angle? Both significantly improved business performance through innovative use of wireless technology—albeit under different circumstances, and making use of different applications.

GDI, a Quincy, Ill.-based supplier of compressor and vacuum products and fluid transfer products, searched for the means to further differentiate itself not just through sales, but service innovation as well.

On the other hand, when faced with a new FDA regulation, Ce De Candy not only tapped into wireless to meet the new requirements, the Union, N.J.-based manufacturer of Smarties candy went on to further leverage the solution to dramatically improve productivity.

The results? For one, remote monitoring of equipment at customers’ facilities improved distribution channel communication and customer satisfaction for GDI. And for Ce De Candy, use of an enterprise mobility solution enabled FDA compliance and enhanced management’s visibility of manufacturing and warehouse processes.

Confront the competition

With operations in 30 countries on six continents and a worldwide network of distributors and partners, GDI’s products and equipment are used in myriad industries.

Motorola’s WS5100 wireless switch supports enterprise mobility applications that solved two business problems for Ce De Candy.

But for GDI in particular, more competition means its equipment is viewed by customers as a commodity item. In many cases, customer relationships have come to be driven by equipment price. As a result, compressor machine sales growth rates have slowed, and GDI management began investigating service innovation as the means for growth opportunity.

In the past, GDI and its distributors didn’t have visibility into the status of machines in use at customers’ facilities. If a unit required service, the field support staff had no way of knowing unless a customer called with a service request. And by then, there already would be consequences ranging from a simple inconvenience to a major productivity loss.

Meanwhile, many local third-party service options are available, which ultimately compete with GDI’s first-responder network for service and repair.

Realizing aftermarket service and replacement parts represent a vital growth opportunity and means for differentiation, GDI teamed up with Qualcomm Enterprise Services for a private-labeled Smart Services solution branded as ESP 20/20. The application monitors air compressors and air dryers that comprise a compressed air system at a facility level.

Consisting of an intelligent device directly connected to an Allen-Bradley control system, the modem within the device collects and communicates machine sensor readings and alert conditions wirelessly to the Qualcomm server using a proprietary Qualcomm communications protocol. The information is then transmitted via the Cingular cellular network to a Qualcomm enterprise management application.

So much new life

GDI isn’t alone in undertaking such an initiative. Remote service monitoring is growing in virtually all industries, says Will McNeill, a senior associate with Boston-based AMR Research .

“There’s a desire among manufacturers to increase service revenues. At the same time, both manufacturers and consumers are trying to squeeze more life out of assets,” McNeill says. “Remotely monitoring equipment is a win-win for everyone. Vendors can increase revenue streams and customer satisfaction while manufacturers minimize downtime stemming from equipment failures.”

The wireless effort has met all expectations for GDI, says Phil Hildebrand, director of marketing. The service platform delivered a line of sight to the system behavior and to the component assets within the system. The data collected and delivered generates appropriate information on system operating efficiency, and numerous indicators for each of the active components.

Data also is used to schedule preventative maintenance, and forms the basis for preemptive intervention on issues that, left unattended, may negatively impact production and cost, Hildebrand says.

For example, GDI’s distribution network and first responders receive site-based information that tells them actual machine run times, as well as which repair parts should be brought to the service call.

Finally, use of the ESP 20/20 suite of services allows GDI to stay connected with assets through their entire life cycles so the company can better ensure that the system will continue to operate as designed. The improved level of service and constant connection with the asset also drives customer retention.

Mike Bakalyar, manager of enhanced services for Gardner Denver Compressor Division, believes the line of sight to operating assets made possible by Qualcomm Smart Services enables preemptive response to negative trends. Rick DePinto, IT manager for Ce De Candy, says the company has better control over manufacturing because it gained a a real-time, minute-by-minute account of production operations upon deployment of an enterprise mobility solution.

“The Smart Services Platform gives Gardner Denver and its distributor partners the ability to support customers with a superior level of service,” says Mike Bakalyar, manager of enhanced services for Gardner Denver Compressor Division. “The line of sight to operating assets enables preemptive response to negative trends, actual needs-based routine maintenance scheduling, tracking operating energy efficiency, and management of total life-cycle costs. Smart Services delivers a true value-based win to all of the stake holders in the value chain: manufacturer, servicing distributor, and owner.”

Scanning the surface

Innovation surrounding data collection equipment and solutions is both warranted and required. In fact, research out of Natick, Mass.-based Venture Development Corp. (VDC) forecasts more than $161 million worth of handheld bar-code scanners will ship to companies for use on the manufacturing floor in 2008, with another $342 million worth of scanners shipping for use in warehouse/distribution center applications.

That kind of growth is expected because the use of such technology can result in significant inventory efficiencies and labor savings.

For Ce De Candy—maker of the Smarties brand and other products—data collection solutions were intended for complying with the FDA’s Food Bioterrorism regulation, which requires food manufacturers to maintain records for complete traceability of all raw goods and manufactured products.

Ce De Candy chose to implement an enterprise mobility solution to meet the mandate. But that particular decision also increased the efficiency and accuracy of manufacturing processes throughout the supply chain and warehouse.

The solution consists of the MC9000 rugged mobile computer from Motorola ‘s Enterprise Mobilitybusiness running TracerPlus software from Portable Technology Solutions (PTS), a Motorola partner.

The solution also includes Motorola’s WS5100 wireless switch, AP300 access ports, and the ES3000 with power- over-ethernet (PoE) switch.

The setup, which required a total investment of about $25K, was configured to existing processes at Ce De Candy within one week, and full deployment was finalized within a month, says Rick DePinto, IT manager, Ce De Candy.

Rollout initially began in Union, N.J., and flowed out to additional locations. Ce De Candy now has four Motorola scanners and four wireless access points deployed in each of its plant locations: the 80,000-square-foot facility in Union, and a 110,000-square-foot center in Canada.

Ce De Candy contracts with a remote warehouse to support each location from which its products are shipped for delivery to customers such as CVS, Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco.

While historically most production data was never captured, Ce De Candy did use a manual process to track production on the plant floor, and report data back to the office. Today, using the Motorola/PTS solution, the company has better control over manufacturing because it gained a real-time, minute-by-minute account of production operations, DePinto says.

The Motorola MC9000 is used to scan raw materials received from vendors and placed into inventory in the warehouse.

Everything is immediately assigned its own raw material lot number, which eventually is connected to a finished good and its finished goods lot number, as per the Food Bioterrorism regulation, DePinto says. The finished goods lot number is used for tracking through the pick-and-pack process, and until finished goods are shipped out against a customer order.

More than the model

Apart from meeting the FDA requirement, use of the Motorola/PTS solution has enabled Ce De Candy to resolve delivery disputes, track real-time production and raw material consumption, and complete physical inventory counts.

Plans for future applications include further leveraging these capabilities for physical inventories and cycle counting, DePinto explains.

“We needed a solution that would allow us to comply with the FDA mandate, but at the same time, would not disrupt the manufacturing processes we already had in place,” says DePinto. “The Motorola/PTS enterprise mobility solution met our firm timing and budget requirements, increased our productivity, and improved data quality and process efficiencies—all with the superior ruggedness that’s essential for our warehouse environment.”

See all of the winners.