Vending specialist Selecta has upgraded its mobile service solution for operators and engineers thanks to Zetes and the MCL™ Mobility Platform.
The MCL Mobility Platform enables operators and engineers to be more efficient in their role and allows them to operate any type of hardware, regardless of brand or operating system.
Selecta Nederland in Waardenburg is part of the international Selecta Group, the largest European vending operator. With approximately 250 employees and more than 25,000 vending machines throughout the Netherlands, Selecta offers freshly made coffee and tea, soft drinks, sweets, snacks, sandwiches and other fresh products. One of their best known customers is undoubtebly Starbucks. Selecta stands out in the vending market by offering a fresh experience, every time. In order to keep that promise, around 95 operators maintain and, depending on the customer’s contract, also restock all machines. When needed, they can count on the support of 35 engineers who answer technical questions and take care of any repair works. “I started work here in March 2014 at a time when the mobile service applications used by our operators and engineers were due an upgrade”, says Straathof, IT Manager at Selecta. “I therefore initiated a selection process in the spring for the Netherlands and Belgium. After a study and in-depth comparison of different mobility solutions, we opted for Zetes and the MCL™ Mobility Platform. Decisive factors included the hardware and operating system independence and the user-friendliness”.
The MCL™ Mobility Platform is a cloud based platform, also called MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform), allowing to operate mobile solutions throughout their life cycle. The platform offers a collection of tools and standard software, with which professional business apps are created in no time, without requiring advanced programming skills. All apps developed through the platform are hardware and operating system independent, and can be used on both industrial mobile equipment and consumer electronics (smartphones/tablets). The MCL™ Mobility Platform also provides various options to manage the hardware and software centrally from the cloud, enabling new apps and software to be deployed in a few simple steps. Thanks to the ‘floating licenses’ model, customers decide which device is granted a licence. Licenses can also be moved to different mobile equipment, regardless of the model and operating system.
Selecta’s mobile applications for maintenance and repairs of vending machines fall under the ‘field service’ category. Straathof highlights the ease of management, short development time of own apps, ability to work according to your role and Android support as key selection criteria. “Technically, we believe that Windows lacks behind, whereas Android has a better set-up and a more up-to-date operating system for mobile working in the cloud. As we have groups of operators who perform different types of work, our aim is to provide them, as a group, with a suitable set of apps. This also includes personnel we employ during peak and holiday periods. The MCL™ Mobility Platform offers this centrally organised flexibility with a role-based login. Furthermore, we have asked Zetes to develop several new Selecta apps and to supply every operator with a Zebra TC55 handheld computer which also supports other smartphone applications such as phone calls, emails, messaging, calendar, contacts and verifying relevant company information en-route. This all seems very straight forward, however, in practice, it has proven more tricky preventing certain Android functions such as individually installing unwanted apps. Even the latter can be managed centrally using the MCL™ Mobility Platform”.
Role-based working on mobile equipment involves more than assigning apps and permissions to all roles. To date, in many organisations, SIM cards and applications such as calendar, contacts and email are often individually set-up. “Our operators use the cloud (VoIP) to make phone calls and are only offered their personal data once they have logged on with their pincode,” according to Straathof. “Implementation flexibility is one of the advantages of our Zetes solution. All information entered by our operators is processed through the MCL™ Mobility Platform in the back office of our headquarters in Switzerland. The initial plan was to work with realtime synchronised communication but since the 3G/4G network coverage isn’t always available, especially in buildings, we effortlessly moved on to asynchronous communication during the pilot. All data is now sent in the background, without it affecting the operator or causing delays. Our operator solution is more advanced than those available in other countries, which is why our head office is looking at a similar platform. After a comparison with other MEAP solutions, my Swiss colleagues are now considering the MCL™ Mobility Platform. Aside from the extensive range of options and application flexibility, the license costs per user are significantly lower for our Zetes solution.”
Pascal Kock, Business Consultant with Zetes, talks about his experience with Selecta: “We immediately noticed during first meetings that Selecta had different needs and preferences for their new mobility solution. Aside from developing several new apps, operators had to have access to a number of standard Android apps, yet with restricted access to the operating system. In addition, a key requirement was the ability to centrally manage all hardware, apps and users as Selecta’s operators constantly work mobile en-route and often don’t get to the office for days. Lastly, we met their request to easily develop their own apps which are hardware and operating system independent, in order to maximise the return on required investment. With the MCL™ Mobility Platform, we were able to meet all of Selecta’s requirements and preferences and have implemented an extensive cloud based mobility solution in a short time.”
After the successfull collaboration with Zetes on the replacement project for operators, Selecta has initiated a similar project for their engineers who are still working with handheld computers based on Windows CE and a separate mobile phone. “With regard to the engineers, we will be replacing two mobile devices with a Zebra TC70”, says Straathof. “Aside from providing them with an up-to-date mobility solution, we are also able to improve their efficiency and therefore increase quality. For example, all the spare parts lists of our vending machines will be made available for our engineers in PDF format in a new app. Rather than carrying binders around, engineers will simply be able to view the list on the mobile device when visiting customers. Based on our business case, we expect the required investment to be recovered within the first year. The future will also bring a new planning app which is currently being developed. Looking back at the last six months, I’m extremely pleased with the mobility solution implemented by Zetes, as well as how they have interpreted our requirements and preferences and have contributed with ideas towards the optimisation of processes using apps.”