Brian Schulte, senior product marketing manager for Honeywell, speaks at SNAXPO18 about distribution management technologies.

ATLANTA — User expectations in snack company warehouse and field operations are shifting due to consumer devices like iPhones and Android smartphones. Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions provided insights into the latest mobile technologies for snack operations at SNAXPO18, held in Atlanta March 12-14.

Brian Schulte, senior product marketing manager for Honeywell, discussed the needs and challenges of snack manufacturers as user expectations, user profiles and technological advances continue to change how direct-store delivery (D.S.D.) operations function.

A Honeywell study showed that 63% of companies today say operations are becoming more complicated and less than 43% of them are confident that their current systems on D.S.D. routes will fit their future needs.

Mr. Schulte said snack companies need to look for mobile applications that mirror the applications and functions employees experience on their smartphones.

“From a systems standpoint, everything is being driven by what’s being seen in consumer devices,” he explained.

However, the larger touchscreen sizes and the removal of keyboards in consumer devices don’t always translate well to D.S.D. operations where there is a lot of data entry. Honeywell offers a variety of solutions to meet specific needs of operations and offers rugged devices with hard keyboards, as well as touchscreen devices. Mr. Schulte said about 75% of companies still operate with keyboard devices and he said that this entry method remains popular for more frequent numeric data entry.

Honeywell also works closely with Google and other technology companies to create devices that fit the needs of snack and food producers. In most cases, there is a need to simplify and connect entire distribution chains.

Mr. Schulte argued that there is a need for more connected devices and the integration of better sensing, imaging and voice technologies in D.S.D. operations. Voice-based solutions, updated label printers and bar code scanners can help increase efficiencies and communication in distribution centers. Cloud-based D.S.D. options also offer better connectivity for route drivers and sales representatives while away from the distribution center. Cloud-based portals can also offer management and administration better methods to track performance, trends and data.

Where companies used to pick one solution for all D.S.D. related operations, Mr. Schulte said companies are now looking at the specific roles their employees have and what tools they need to be most effective. From sales to delivery, a variety of solutions can help each department succeed. 
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