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December 2017
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Mobility management is on the rise
Eileen Schmidt
Eileen Schmidt

The technological devices used in warehouses throughout today's shipping and handling industries need to be two things - cutting-edge and tough.

“Consumer devices break in warehouses,” said Ken Boyd, marketing director for Supply Chain Services. He described how the alternative, rugged computers and hand-held devices built for warehouse work, are designed to sustain six-foot drops and exposure to water, oil and other elements. Or perhaps a 100,000-square-foot warehouse kept at a temperature below zero for the benefit of its product lines.

With specific needs such as these in mind, Supply Chain Services launched a new offering for managed mobile services this year. It includes: deployment, training, project management, support desk and wireless network design. Also included is depot management for warehouse mobile devices like scanners, rugged mobile computers, barcode printers and more.

While the concept of managed services is not unique, Supply Chain Services' approach to managed mobile services is. The company's services cater specifically to the needs of those in consulting, deployment, support, repair and depot services to warehousing, logistics, delivery, manufacturing and distribution organizations. The goal behind this offering is to reduce the impact of downtime on devices or network systems; something Boyd said is a real problem within the industries Supply Chain Services serves. “They can’t work if devices aren’t working correctly,” he said, noting the company’s depot services for keeping operational equipment in the hands of its clients. “Their whole facility could be down if wireless is down,” Boyd said.

So far, the feedback has been positive. Customers “love it,” Boyd said. Supply Chain Services is an Oakdale, Minn.-based business that bills itself as a nationwide reseller and system integrator, designing barcoding and data collection solutions. Founded in 2002, it grew to about $9 million in revenue before it was purchased by current CEO Chip Emery in 2010. Since that time, the business has expanded between 20 and 25 percent each year, standing at $25 million in revenue in 2014. The firm has a staff of 42, which includes a large in-house IT staff. It is another component that sets Supply Chain Services apart, Boyd said. “Most companies like us don’t have that kind of support,” he said.

The goal is to reach $50 million in revenue by 2020. Although the firm is based in the Midwest, staff does travel on-site around the nation for larger installations, and strives to keep an active presence through avenues like client advisory boards. Two of Supply Chain Services’ larger clients are Motorola Solutions – now part of Zebra Technologies - and Honeywell Scanning and Mobility.

To illustrate why managed mobile services are so key, Supply Chain Services published a white paper on the topic last year. The paper was developed by the VDC Mobility Team, with David Krebs, Executive Vice President VDC Research Group (VDC) and the support of Supply Chain Services and Honeywell Scanning and Mobility.
“Mobility management is rising as a chief priority for CIOs and CTOs worldwide. More than 85 percent of IT decision-makers expect steady or increased year-over-year mobility budgets, according to a recent VDC survey,” the paper said. The research presented maintains that the pressure of increasingly sophisticated technological strategies and deployments have made third-party technological support the option of choice for many companies.

“Managed services represent the function of outsourcing the day-to-day management responsibilities of IT disciplines and applications as a strategic method for improving operations and lowering costs while enabling IT to focus efforts on more business-critical activities,” the paper said. And managed mobile service capabilities are expected to translate well into warehouse environments, which typical involve tightly connected mobile solutions and operational metrics, the research concluded.

Eileen Schmidt
is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email or visit to contact Eileen.