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UFG turns to tech to improve efficiency


May 3, 2012
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

gi_75079_img_3783May 3, 2012, Burnaby, BC — New tech tools have allowed United Flower
Growers to increase its accuracy and achieve big cost savings in its
operations.

Located in Burnaby, B.C., United Flower Growers is a Dutch-style auction
that serves an estimated 600 customers each year, selling over 50
million stems and more than one million potted plants.

Each morning, truckloads of fresh flowers and plants produced by local
growers arrive at UFG's 26 loading bays. All products are visually
inspected for quality before being offered for sale. Once accepted,
pertinent sales data is scanned into UFG's custom-designed software
using Microsoft Windows-based Motion F5v Tablet PCs from Motion
Computing.

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The growers enter all the information electronically at the greenhouses
and transmit the data to UFG. They also provide a printed sheet with a
barcode in each shipment. UFG staff use the Motion Tablet's integrated
barcode scanner to pull up the information, make edits using drop down
menus, and save changes to the database.

According to Dennis Lawson, general manager of operations for United
Flower Growers, the tablet-enabled process has helped reduce manual
input errors by 90 per cent, which translates into a considerable
cost-savings.

"The tablets' integrated cameras were an added bonus, and now we can
take a live picture of the product and include it with the information
presented to our customers," he said. "This is a considerable benefit
when colours, size and overall look of the flower are the main
determining factors for establishing price."

UFG has also been able to reduce the amount of time that goes into the
process. Data entry, which used to take four hours, is now down to just
two and a half hours a day.

"With data in the system faster, we can deliver it to the customer
faster — our customers can see more of the inventory sooner, which
allows them to make better buying decisions," said Lawson. "The tablets
have definitely helped us enhance our customer service."

Going forward, UFG plans to deploy additional tablets in order to
further streamline its processes. The tablets will be issued to security
staff, who will be able to scan customer invoices as they leave,
ensuring that all payments have been made.

The group also plans to roll out tablets to streamline its bucket return system.

"With the Motion Tablet PCs, the staff will be able to go to the
customer and process the return on the spot, remotely printing the
invoice, and the customer can pick it up when they're ready. We expect
to increase efficiency by up to 40 per cent," said Lawson.


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