Quadient Shipping, a business unit of Quadient, provides specialized shipping and tracking solutions to make the management of inbound and outbound items easy, efficient, and economical. Quadient Shipping’s activities focus on tracking solutions using RFID, IoT and barcode technologies.
I spoke to Bruce Pacome, Operations & Purchasing Manager at Quadient Shipping in France about their solutions, the challenges they encountered with the deployment of these solutions, and how Sierra Wireless was able to help.
Quadient Shipping solutions are designed for all companies that need to ensure traceability. Historically, we addressed the transportation and logistics markets, but now we are involved with many more industries.
Our solutions are based on digital technologies. We have a great deal of expertise in IoT solutions using RFID and telecom technologies, as well as in asset management to enable our customers to fully manage all their activities.
As an integrator, we are constantly assessing the market and the products available, committed to ensure that we are integrating the best technology. If the right solution is not currently available, we look to design it and build it ourselves. We have a strong network of partners that allow us to meet the needs of our customers in a timely manner.
Quadient’s Parcel Locker Solutions is a flagship business and one of the company’s growth pillars. This business offers and operates a large range of connected lockers that allow the safe and convenient pick-up of items (click and collect) in retail stores, residential buildings as well as offices and universities. The solution relies on a strong central system that connects with the customer’s system to ensure end-to-end tracking of the deliveries and automate delivery notifications to the recipients. The Shipping team was involved right from the beginning in the design of this solution.
To ensure end-to-end visibility, the parcel lockers need a reliable and regular network connection. The systems receive parcel tracking information and send back information related to the events in the parcel locker itself, for instance parcel status (delivered, picked up…) and pickup codes for each parcel to be included in the notifications sent. But most of the data transmitted is related to the monitoring of the machines, to ensure their proper functioning and maintenance, and to ensure an optimal user experience. Every second, data on the condition of the lockers is sent back in real time, so it is essential that we have reliable connectivity.
When we started deploying at a larger scale in 2014, the coverage of the locations’ telecom network was a highly sensitive issue. With limited coverage in some of the locations planned, we very quickly switched to a multi-operator solution allowing us to increase our coverage at the national level in metropolitan France, without having concerns on the overall network quality. The lockers are often installed in the middle of shopping centers, inside retail stores or in underground or train stations, so getting reliable and consistent coverage can sometimes be tricky.
In the pilot phase, we made the choice of using the networks provided by our location partners – either wired or Wi-Fi. We encountered some difficulties in the field – not only was the complexity and cost of integration with the customer’s IT systems an issue, but we also encountered some security issues when using Wi-Fi. We then decided to use cellular connectivity, which was one of the options initially considered when we started.
We first started working with Sierra Wireless in 2015 when we implemented their LS300 routers. These routers met our performance requirements in every way, and gave us the ability to manage our router fleet with the ALMS solution. This is an essential management tool when deploying a network of lockers around the world, as we do, to ensure good management of the installed routers.
Then, with the deployment of our solutions in various countries and regions of the world such as in Japan and the United States, we needed to have a reliable and deployable product available worldwide. At the time, Sierra Wireless proposed a very innovative solution, the AirLink® RV50X router, which would allow us to have a single connectivity reference (SKU) for the whole world, and to cover a maximum number of frequencies.
Today, we are in the validation phase of deploying AirLink® connectivity solutions on a European scale, starting with the implementation of the new LX40 router, adding Sierra’s connectivity with their global eSIM further simplifying integration and global management. Each region will then be autonomously managed.
We evaluated several vendors with the criteria that we felt were important for the Parcel Lockers project. The main three things that we were looking for were the best possible global coverage, with the fewest possible product references, at the best price. In fact, we had a precise list of regions in the world to cover with the most available frequency bands – Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America, including of course all the necessary hardware and radio certifications in these regions.
It was not an easy task, and yet Sierra Wireless, with its expertise and product range, was able to offer us THE right product that met all the required criteria with the AirLink® RV50X router. With this single product and reference (SKU), we were able to deploy our solution all over the world, at an acceptable cost.
This was when we agreed that Sierra was the best partner to accompany us in building our global solutions.
Out of more than 15,000 lockers deployed worldwide, nearly half are connected with Sierra Wireless’ connectivity solutions. Customers include Auchan, Decathlon, universities in the United States, and Yamato pick-up points in Japan.
Because of their expertise, Sierra has been able to offer us custom solutions to fit our needs, and very quickly. The great relationship between the teams also made the work a lot easier.
Through their great expertise and their motivation to accompany us, as well as their unfailing commitment, which for years now has allowed these successful deployments. They have always shown great professionalism.
In terms of benefits, the fact that we can deploy a single means of communication regardless of the region thanks to the single worldwide certification, has given us greater flexibility and speed in deploying our products, allowing us to save time and money.
For further information on Sierra Wireless’ routers and connectivity solutions, visit: sierrawireless.com/products-and-solutions/routers-gateways/airlink/
Quadient Shipping Case studies:
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