Newton and the Campbell Soup Company →

I came across this article in doing research for my Apple History Calendar:

The Campbell Soup Company has over 40,000 employees. Campbell Germany wanted to improve their sales and distribution system as well as the quality of their customer service. Campbell developed a solution around a mobile communications system involving the Apple MessagePad and mobile phones in the field, and a SyncServer which processes data transfers between the MessagePad and the central office.

In the past, field representatives collected order lists from their customers and faxed these lists to the central office at the end of the day. There, the order information was input into the inventory management system and the delivery schedule was set up. Even when everything was running smoothly, it took four to five days for customers to receive their goods. Because orders were processed manually twice, errors could easily creep into the system.

Starting in April 1997, Campbell’s field representatives will be working with the mobile communications system designed by Pythia. This system includes Apple MessagePad handheld computers, with ordering and information service programs that were specially developed for Campbell’s, as well as a standard product, the SyncServer. This server controls the data exchange among mobile clients and the inventory management system and Campbell’s Sales Information System, both of which are run on an AS/400 mainframe at the central office.

Each sales representative in the field will be equipped with a MessagePad that stores customer information as well as data relating to all articles for which he or she is responsible. Orders are directly input on location. The graphical interface of the MessagePad makes it extremely user-friendly; for instance, delivery dates are input by typing the desired date into a special calendar. After leaving the customer, the representative plugs the MessagePad into a mobile phone and transfers the order data directly to the central office. The transfer takes only a few minutes, and errors are avoided because the information does not have to be input a second time.

The time to delivery is thus reduced to two or three days. Furthermore, the field representative is notified immediately if an item is not available.