Migrating to SKU-level management at the machine level can be challenging. Leveraging DEX is the ideal way to achieve this objective. The importance of ensuring that machines are configured at the selection level with accurate column or row capacities must be achieved in order to be successful.
“You want to make sure all the data is clean. That’s been the biggest obstacle … and that is the biggest time-consuming aspect of the whole process,” said Scott Meskin, president of Black Tie Services, who is in the process of converting 10 percent of his machines to telemetry.
Although a significant process to secure clean data, once operators succeed, it’s possible to get accurate forecasts for route slips and avoid excess truck and warehouse inventory.
Phase 2: Data Collection Via DEX
The next progression in a technology implementation is to move into SKU-based product management and leverage DEX. While we talk about processes above, it is critical that the business move to SKU in the warehouse, the truck and the machine. Most operations manage warehouse and truck via SKU but not the machine. DEX helps them get control of the machine SKU data.
Automated data collection provides a wealth of information for basic tasks such as identifying route efficiencies, analyzing product sales, improving space to sales and managing over/short cash information.
Although most modern machines are built to be DEX-compatible, many machines in the field are not. It is important to inventory machines in the field to determine their readiness. A VMS supplier can assist with this. For example, MEI has a sheet that will describe the firmware needed for DEX or telemetry capability by machine make and model number. Key questions to resolve are: Does the machine have the right erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM)? Does the DEX port work? If it is an old machine, would an investment in a new machine be warranted? Some machines can be upgraded with the necessary boards, but those in low-volume areas may not warrant the cost. In this situation, it might be a good option to put non-DEXable machines in low-volume areas where monthly inventories are performed.
There are three additional phases to be explored on the road to implanting technology. To read those and how to get there, visit www.VendingMarketWatch.com/1101712 for Getting There From Here, Part 2: A Vendor’s Roadmap To Technology Implementation.
Doug Haddon is global director of technology solutions for MEI with 15 years of experience identifying and providing technology solutions for bottling, vending and OCS and specializing in operations software, telemetry and cashless. He can be reached at Doug.Haddon@meigroup.com.