5 Areas Rugged Mobile Solutions Can Enhance Government Logistics and Supply Chains

Running a global supply chain can be especially challenging for public sector agencies that have to coordinate across many different departments, internal “customers,” suppliers, and partners. In today’s spare parts-constrained supply chain environment, for example, not being able to locate and source replacement parts for Air Force transport or surveillance jets, can impact repair capabilities and, subsequently, the agency’s flight operations.

This is just one example of the mission-critical nature of the federal government supply chain, which can range from keeping civilian services up and running to providing life-saving supplies during a natural disaster

Comprising organizations that provide goods and services to the federal government, federal programs, and U.S. citizens, the federal supply chain includes suppliers of raw materials, vehicles, medical supplies, food supplies, information technology (IT) vendors; infrastructure contractors; and third-party logistics providers (3PLs), among other providers.

Improving Productivity and Efficiency

To obtain end-to-end supply chain visibility and real-time, accurate data for tracking and better decision-making—and all while delivering at the speed of mission demand—KPMG says federal agencies need new approaches and technologies. “Agencies must plan and execute a customized, enterprise-level strategy to effectively meet dynamic new demands on the supply chain,” KPMG adds.

Mobile solutions can help federal agencies better manage their supply chain operations. Rugged handheld devices, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, for example, help government logistics and supply chain employees be more productive while also adding to the overall efficiency of their operations. These devices must also be tough enough to withstand conditions on the warehouse floor or out in the field, including use on a forklift, truck vibration, extreme temperatures, and rainy weather.

A lift truck driver who is moving materials in and out of a government warehouse, for example, can work more efficiently if equipped with a rugged industrial tablet that’s mounted onto the vehicle. The driver can use the device to access inventory data, scan barcodes, conduct and record product inspections, and manage other activities while moving about the facility.

5 Ways Mobile Supports the Government Supply Chain

For the federal agency that’s responsible for supplying goods to recipients nationwide, mobile tools help replace time-consuming, labor-intensive paper-based processes with automated, streamlined data access and capture approaches. To support the core logistics activity of order fulfillment, for example, mobile solutions like voice-enabled picking solutions using rugged handheld devices with integrated barcode scanners support the picking, packing, and labeling that’s needed to be able to get shipments out the door quickly and accurately.

Mobility is not only applicable within the four walls of the warehouse; its impact extends out into the yard, entry/exit gate, and across transportation networks. Here are five other areas of the federal government logistics operations that benefit from rugged mobile solutions:

1. Work order scheduling for fulfillment or delivery operations

Managing technicians and work orders are critical responsibilities for federal warehouse managers, who are responsible for on-time order fulfillment—a process that depends on all moving parts to function properly. A conveyor belt that isn’t functioning properly or a dock door that’s stuck in the closed position can bring an entire operation to a halt.

Equipped with rugged tablets and/or handhelds, warehouse and logistics managers can issue work orders on the fly, communicate with technicians, and get updates when those work orders are issued, managed, and closed out. All of this can be done while the manager walks the warehouse floor, handling his or her day-to-day tasks without interruption.

2. Managing fleets of lift trucks and other vehicles

Knowing where vehicles are, the condition they’re in, and whether they require maintenance is a critical job for federal warehouse operators. Deploying a mobile asset management solution paired with rugged, reliable mobile devices, agencies can manage their fleets and the related data (i.e., location data, preventive maintenance requirements.) 

Designed to perform under adverse and demanding conditions—where consumer-grade tablets and notebooks can’t withstand daily usage in commercial vehicles—rugged mobile devices help fleet managers keep tabs on those vehicles’ locations, statuses, and conditions.

3. Orchestrating service bay operations

As vehicles become less mechanical and more electronic, providing top-notch service has become increasingly complex. Rugged mobile computers and tablets can be used to check in the equipment for repair, create service documentation, run parts-management software programs, and obtain repair diagnostics.

4. Delivery and transportation management

The government supply chain can use mobile solutions to manage all aspects of the fulfillment process, including material handling, yard management, and transportation. For example, agencies can use route optimization, proof-of-delivery, and last-mile delivery software out on the road to obtain high levels of supply chain visibility.

Using transportation and logistics software applications, plus rugged tablets or handhelds and kiting and deployment services, the federal government can overcome supply chain challenges while also preparing it for the future. 

5. Yard management

Out in the yard, mobile tablets provide high levels of visibility to workers and managers in an area often referred to as the “black hole” of the supply chain. By applying the Internet of Things (IoT), aerial drones, and/or radio frequency identification (RFID) to trailer and truck asset tracking, managers can remotely access their warehouse management systems (WMS) to find out where the inventory or equipment is at any point in time—even out in the yard.

The intersection of workers and goods

Critical to the efficient movement of goods through the government supply chain, rugged mobile devices like tablets and handhelds help increase efficiency, track inventory, and deliver orders on time. These advanced devices also enable real-time operational visibility, good decision-making, and improved order processing from the warehouse right through to the point of delivery

As organizations continue to transform the end-to-end government supply chain digitally, mobile devices will play an important role in this evolution.  Standing at the intersection of workers and the goods they are moving, modern mobile technology also gives organizations an edge in attracting younger, tech-savvy associates that have come to expect a workforce equipped with modern technology.