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The companys clients include such internationally recognised brands as Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Bacardi, Sony and Renault. With so many field-based workers, mobile communications play an important role in Inserts business and for some years the company has equipped its field based workers with PDAs to assist in their day-to-day routine. The company had been using the same PDAs since 2000 and, according to Inserts IT manager, Pierre Dupaya, the units had become intrinsically obsolete.
Pilot application test
The operating system, outdated ergonomics, lack of picture snapshot function, and RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) compliance shortcomings of our previous system led us to believe that the time was right for an upgrade, said Dupaya. Having taken the decision to replace its PDAs, Insert embarked on an exhaustive field test of a number of alternative models. We developed a pilot application test that was completely different from our current applications, but it allowed us to easily compare the equipment being tested with our current portable terminal where possible, and to assess the new functionalities, explained Vincent Bouchat, Inserts project manager for the study.
To begin with, Insert tested three devices none of which really stood out. They did not meet all the criteria we had defined as sensitive for our business: scan speed, sturdiness, picture quality, ergonomics, battery life, OS stability and data-rate quality for synchronisation, said Bouchat. Insert was then introduced to the Psion Teklogix iKn PDA shortly after the product had its marketing launch late in 2007. The iKn is compact with robust built-in functionality that enables a host of advanced mobile applications whether reading barcodes with its integrated imager or scanner, or using its inbuilt camera to take a colour picture to be carried out from a single unit.
Following successful field trials throughout Paris and the surrounding suburbs, Insert has equipped all of its field service personnel with iKns. Over 400 of the units were acquired. The iKn scores highly over Inserts previous PDA in a number of ways. Whereas the old system did not have WiFi connectivity the iKn does. The iKn also boasts a two mega-pixel digital colour camera function the previous PDA had no built-in camera. Unlike Inserts old PDAs, the iKn has GPS. It also has an imager with barcode reader function which, is a reported to be a significant improvement on the former systems simple barcode reader. In addition, the iKn features a 5000-mAh Lithium Ion Battery-Pack, which ensures long battery life.
The PDA upgrade has allowed us to keep existing functionalities, but also to develop new services for our customers, said Bouchat. Being able to take pictures of the tasks done using the iKns new snapshot functionality is a great advantage, while we can communicate faster with our field force thanks to wireless synchronisation.
Inserts field-based workers use the iKn for tasks that would not have been possible with the former units. They receive job-specific information, monitor the installation, locate advertising positions using GPS, record damages or defective billboards and posters and prepare draft reports for customers. With the introduction of the iKn we have passed a new technological milestone, concluded Bouchat.
Insert is one of Frances leading outdoor media specialists. The company produces a range of advertising solutions and concepts from simple poster campaigns to complex digital promotions and has some 600 employees, the majority of whom operate in the field putting up and maintaining over 100,000 outdoor advertising sights throughout France.