Case Study: British American Tobacco: Increasing productivity and reducing errors

Posted January 13, 2016

British American Tobacco (BAT) is the market leader in the Romanian tobacco industry. Operations began, as a local affiliate, in 1994 and BAT Romania was founded as a domestic business entity in 1996. Local production began at the company’s Ploiesti factory in 1997. The factory now employs more than 500 staff and produces brands including Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Dunhill, Vogue, Viceroy and Rothmans for both local and international markets.

The company’s sales agents had previously been using a range of dot matrix printers for printing all required documents to carry out their daily engagement with customers. However, poor printer performance, costly printer consumables, printer size and issues related to limited connectivity led to BAT looking for a new solution to ensure that their sales agents’ productivity levels were improved. They looked to upgrade to a printer that could withstand the rigours of the field sales environment and that could grow with them in the future.

“We had been using dot matrix printers for over 12 years, but poor printing speed, reliability and just the time taken to carry out core day to day tasks was taking far too long and was impacting our team’s productivity. Plus the costs of maintaining the old printers was becoming a major issue for us,” said Cosmin Voinea, Project Manager at British American Tobacco. “Our sales agents also wanted to print required documents at their customer’s location rather than in their car so portablility was also a key requirement for any replacement solution.”

The Smart Solution

IT procurement specialists at BAT conducted an extensive business requirements review and determined a shortlist of potential solutions. “We began with looking at the printers that were already being used by BAT group companies and sought internal references from around the world,” said Cosmin Voinea. “Feedback from other BAT team members on commercial criteria, warranty and after-sales service were also taken in to consideration along with the performance and specifications of any solution.”

After a 2 month selection process BAT chose 450 Intermec PB51 rugged mobile printers which allow sales agents to print invoices or receipts. Intermec Platinum Partner Total Technologies had already been providing BAT Romania with scanning and Direct Store Delivery (DSD) mobility solutions for more than 10 years, including Intermec CN50 rugged mobile computers which connect via Bluetooth to the PB51 printers.

“Total Technologies with the Intermec PB51 mobile printers scored extremely well on all of our selection criteria. In addition, we have been pleased with the extraordinary cooperation that we have with both companies,” added Cosmin Voinea.

The Intermec PB51 is the industry’s fastest rugged 4-inch mobile receipt printer and built specifically to withstand the tough conditions of use in the field. Its advanced Smart Printing capabilities support standalone printer applications, which allow the elimination of PCs, thereby reducing costs and the level of complex operations. The PB51 has a 20-30% faster time-to-receipt and invoice printing than competitive products and can seamlessly integrate with Intermec mobile computers or other rugged devices. It has secure wired and wireless communication options including Bluetooth, USB and Serial and Intermec SmartSystems remote device management reduces support needs.

Results that matter

“We have been delighted with the PB51’s performance in the field where it has really lived up to its rugged reputation – easily coping with the excesses that field work can deliver with summer and winter temperature and humidity variations and continuous operation during the working day,” said Gabriel Serban, Trade Marketing & Distribution Systems Manager. “The Intermec PB51 has all of the capabilities that we were looking for. Sales agents have given extremely positive feedback on the PB51’s ease of use, long battery life and portability. They have also highlighted that it has dramatically reduced the time that they were previously spending on unproductive administrative tasks due to connectivity issues with the old printers.”

BAT have also seen reduction in printer downtime in comparison with its previous solution which required regular servicing/maintenance and a faster print speed leading to improved productivity of sales agents and improved customer service.

“We have also reduced paper consumption by 65%, not only because the invoice format is now smaller, but also because it allows us to successfully use the device’s Smart Printer capabilities to reduce printing errors,” concluded Cosmin Voinea. “This is a really pleasing result as at a Group level BAT is committed to reducing our carbon footprint.”

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