Intermec Technologies Corp. describes itself as a “workflow performance company.” What does that mean? With its tools and technology, Intermec works to help its customers realize the full potential of their people, helping to give them a competitive advantage in their markets. Intermec demonstrates its leadership in this field by its vast capabilities, but also by its customer base – in the last 40 years, Intermec has served 70 percent of Fortune 1000 companies. And to continue serving them and keeping them competitive, Intermec continues to enhance and hone its capabilities and expertise, adding value to its already comprehensive offering.
“We offer a very broad portfolio of components within the total solutions we provide to our customers,” Senior Director of Marketing Dan Albaum explains. “We’re not just a company that supplies devices – we offer a wide array of applications. Intermec offers all of the hardware, software and service components needed in a supply chain solution, which in turn provides customers with convenience and confidence.”
Based in Everett, Wash., Intermec has more than 640 active patents and focuses on data capture and information management in rugged and highly scaled business environments. Serving a diverse customer base that includes manufacturers, food producers, transportation and logistics operations, retailers, operations in the public sector and healthcare providers, the company consults customers about creating a mobile workforce and improving their existing processes and technology to enhance the performance of critical workflows. This helps provide customers with reduced operating costs, improved margins and increased revenue.
“We are a provider of a very strong, complete portfolio of services and technology, and we continue to enhance the speed and breadth of what we offer,” Albaum says. “We foster a culture of innovation and focus on customer needs in optimizing how we take our devices and software offerings and turn them into solutions. We also innovate through a comprehensive set of lifecycle services.”
From Hours to Minutes
Intermec is always working to enhance its customers’ operations, but when working with LoBue Citrus, Intermec helped the company to enhance traceability, improve inventory accuracy, save time for employees and save money on labor costs. LoBue Citrus is a family run grower and distributor of oranges, producing approximately five million boxes each year. This comprises about four to five percent of California’s citrus industry, although 40 percent of the company’s product is exported to Asia. In October 2010, LoBue saw the need to automate its manual produce traceability program because it tied up critical resources and increased the chance for error.
“We see a big interest in traceability among food customers, especially with the Food Safety Modernization Act that is being implemented,” says Bruce Stubbs, industry marketing director for warehousing operations. “We’ve worked hard to develop solutions that will capture the necessary information and pass that data throughout the supply chain.”
FoodLoqiQ, a provider of software and solutions that meet the needs of the Produce Traceability Initiative, helped LoBue solve these issues with an automated system using Intermec Smart Printing Solutions. The stand-alone Intermec PM4i industrial printer didn’t need an additional computer to print labels, which minimized cost, and the system was easy to use, so it sped up worker adoption.
Additionally, LoBue workers are able to scan a FoodLogiQ-generated bar code using an Intermec SR30 handheld scanner, which tells the PM4i printer what label to print. The printer isn’t tethered to a computer, so workers can move the cart on which the printer is stationed to the boxes that need the tags. When the boxes are wrapped, the workers use an Intermec PB50 mobile printer to create a pallet tag, which includes a bar code that identifies the kind of orange, its ship date, destination, farm source and the farm lot. This allows the company to trace a shipment back to its origin.
This system allows traceability to occur within minutes compared to the two hours it took before LoBue’s automation. Inventory accuracy has improved from a percentage range of high-80s to low-90s to its current rate of between 98 and 99 percent. The new system also eliminates LoBue’s physical inventories, saving eight to 16 hours each day, equating to about $96 to $240 in labor costs saved daily. LoBue expects the new system to pay for itself within two years.
“What they’ve done is develop a system that is not commodity-specific,” says Tom Clark, operations manager at LoBue Citrus. “And in that, they’ve incorporated all the aspects of traceability, food safety, sustainability, pesticide application documentation and record-keeping. I’ve been involved in the production management of produce for 25 years, and this so far has been the easiest one I’ve been involved with.”
As the LoBue example shows, food traceability can be easy and immediate with an Intermec system, but Albaum explains its technology and software can be configured to benefit numerous other industries just as easily. In healthcare, for example, Intermec’s systems can improve patient tracking and administration, point-of-care services, and security and record management. With its e-citation technology, Intermec can help police departments increase the number of citations issued while reducing the time it takes to create and process them. By improving citation accuracy, police departments can increase collections, which is a boon to areas with budget constraints and limited resources.
“With e-citation, police departments can leverage the technology to change the game,” Albaum says. “But even in distribution centers, there are a wealth of opportunities for an operation that moves from paper to a seamless system. It improves worker productivity, which leads to empowerment, greater job satisfaction and ultimately improved employee retention.”
“What customers appreciate about us is that we are a total solution provider that can solve a host of challenges in the distribution center,” Stubbs adds. “But, we also provide solutions throughout the entire supply chain – not just the four walls of the distribution center.”
To provide customers with even more comprehensive total solutions, Intermec has created a network of business partners that work with the company to create industry-leading, targeted solutions to identify, track and manage supply chain solutions. According to Albaum, Intermec’s global channel program, PartnerNet, leverages the company’s extensive industry knowledge, sales and marketing resources, and its innovative tools to enable partners to capitalize on new opportunities for delivering greater solutions to customers. FoodLogiQ, for example, is one of Intermec’s key partners.
Intermec continuously looks to enhance what it offers customers, according to Albaum, so its dedication to developing new hardware and software solutions is ongoing. “We are always working on creating something new, but we want to make sure that whatever we make adds value to our organization and benefits our customers,” he says.
The Intermec 70 Series is one of the company’s newest offerings; it includes four ultra-rugged, high-performance handheld computers. The 70 Series products are built on the same platform, eliminating the need for customers to monitor and maintain multiple operating systems and software versions of different devices. The company equipped the 70 Series products with a 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor and an optional wide-area flexible network radio based on Qualcomm’s Gobi 3G connectivity technology.
“The 70 Series is a great example of our focus on innovation,” Albaum says. “In terms of data capture, the SG20 line of scanners is a strong addition to our offering and helps us extend our reach in high-growth markets like healthcare. These scanners are designed to assist with point-of-care at a patient’s bedside.
“Our new products demonstrate our game-changing innovation,” Albaum adds. “All of it is wrapped in the broad solutions we provide to our customers.”
Vocollect is Intermec’s suite of voice solutions that were integrated into the company through an acquisition in 2011. As the No. 1 developer and manufacturer of voice solutions for mobile workers around the world, Vocollect estimates that it is used by more than 500,000 workers daily, helping them distribute more than $5 billion worth of goods. Vocollect and Intermec are working together to develop voice-enabled workflow and data-collection solutions for a range of industries.
“The acquisition of Vocollect was definitely a win-win for Intermec and our customers,” Stubbs stresses. “We have been working very closely with the R&D department at Vocollect to continue to voice-enable our solutions. For example, we introduced the first voice-enabled vehicle mounts.”
“Vocollect was easy to integrate into our operation because there were a lot of synergies,” Albaum adds. “Distribution center operations greatly benefit from voice technology, and we’re seeing that it extends into other workflows addressed by the Intermec portfolio. Plus, with Vocollect as one of our business units, we become a single provider of our solutions with voice-enabled technology. No one else can deliver that type of breadth in this industry.”
In fact, it is Intermec’s breadth that enables its ability to fully meet customers’ needs, and it is one of the main factors that encourages Intermec’s ongoing growth. To ensure it continues to provide customers with value, Intermec doesn’t stop gathering information after it understands customers’ strategies and needs. After it provides customers with a solution for their operations, Intermec solicits feedback throughout the life of the system. The company also has a customer advisory council – comprised of 15 to 20 of its largest customers from different markets – that it meets with a few times each year to get feedback from and further understand each market’s evolving needs.
“All of this is to ensure that we develop solutions that are relevant to our customers’ businesses – that is what makes them more competitive and helps our company to grow,” Stubbs says.
Albaum notes that this feedback helps Intermec deliver the highest level of value. “We work to create an experience of doing business with Intermec that’s as easy as possible for customers,” Albaum explains. “We can transform their workflows, and that is a big part of helping them strengthen and grow their business.”