If the company is relying on remote DEX data transfer, the driver needs to press a button on the DEX device in the machine to report the meter readings.
In both cases, the operator can then compare the DEX readings to the cash collected.
SECOND BENEFIT: INVENTORY CONTROL
Using DEX to better manage inventory at the machine and route levels requires having certain inventory control procedures in place.
Improved inventory control yields benefits in the areas of labor, carrying (warehousing) and purchasing. These benefits are interrelated.
By managing the inventory on the trucks and in the warehouse better, it is possible for an operator to realize a better return on his labor.
According to some industry observers, many machines are 72 percent full when the route driver services them. In such a scenario, the operator is not getting the best return on his or her service labor.
RETURN ON LABOR
By introducing a system that allows the machine to be serviced when it is more than half empty, the operator can improve his return on labor without sacrificing customer satisfaction.
Before attempting to standardize truck inventory control procedures, the operator should first have warehouse inventory control in place. Warehouse inventory should be measured against what comes back from the trucks.
Using a bar code scanner, the warehouse manager tracks all deliveries from suppliers and all returns from the trucks.
When the warehouse reconciliation is within a minimum of 5 percent of actual ending count, the operator is ready to begin focusing on truck inventories. A 5 percent or less variance to actual ending count is also a reasonable truck reconciliation goal.
Once the operation is managing its warehouse inventory, the next step is to measure route inventory. This can be done one route at a time.
PLANOGRAMS MUST BE FOLLOWED
To use DEX to better manage inventory, the driver must follow the machine planogram. DEX automatically records the column sales in the handheld, but to be accurate, the handheld must remain in sync with what’s actually in the machine.
Drivers need to record machine fills at every service and beginning inventory by category or by item with every collection, along with the meter readings.
A company that is not already doing this needs to do it as a first step before introducing DEX.
Once using DEX, the driver downloads the transaction data and can immediately read what is needed in the machine. At day’s end, the DEX information is sent to the warehouse. If the company is using handhelds to gather this information, the driver places the handheld into a modem and sends the information to the warehouse. The computer can then write the pick list for the next day, which warehouse employees use to prepare the next day’s order.
It’s not hard to see the efficiencies in this scenario. Veteran operators have realized significant savings in time and improved accuracy. The data that these reports generate can be powerful sales analysis tools.
With more accurate data, the operator can make use of various financial reports to make the operation more efficient.
The operator can monitor his sales-to-service ratios, which is sales for a period of time divided by the number of services.
The target sales-to-service ratio for beverage machines is 40 percent of inventory at retail, while snack is 30 percent.
DEX makes handhelds far more powerful as route management tools. Earlier, non-DEX handhelds served as replacements for the route ticket. They included bar code readers that made it easy to match a returned collection bag to the specific machine.
Without DEX, the only way to capture that information is for each route driver to manually record product fills, pulls and inventory on either a pre-printed route ticket or a service log stored inside the machine.
This data must be manually entered into a “back office” vending management system. In essence, with this system, the driver has been turned into a data entry clerk. The process is time-consuming and error prone for both the driver and the office employee entering the information.
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