Dakota continues to accelerate growth and development

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LogisticsHandling.com spoke with Dakota Integrated Solutions’ commercial director, Philip Jarrett, and recently appointed key account manager, Peter Jenkins, about the company’s current growth trajectory, including new partnerships and strategic technology sweet spots.
 
For many years, Dakota Integrated Solutions Ltd has enjoyed a reputation as a leading total solution provider supplying and deploying digital data capture, printing, mobility and full solution support across a wide range of industries including healthcare, supply chain, warehousing and manufacturing.

A couple of years ago, this pedigree was given a major boost with the inclusion of voice-enabled solutions in collaboration with Dakota’s partner Honeywell and the company’s status as a Honeywell Platinum Partner for voice.

Philip Jarrett: Growth through differentiation.

The voice effect

Since including voice within its suite of offerings, Dakota has been highly successful in securing several high-profile customer project wins. For example, just some of the supply chain projects include those with Jack Sealey Ltd, DCS Group (UK) Ltd and Euro Packaging UK Ltd.

Dakota is now in the process of securing several other contracts with major brands within the supply chain space. Impressively, some of these projects will run over several sites and involve completely replacing companies’ existing technology including inventory control and their whole warehouse/supply chain backend. “These are the types of extensive projects we love getting our teeth into,” states Dakota’s commercial director, Philip Jarrett.
 
In this regard, Dakota’s relationship with strategic partner The Config Team is proving to be very successful in winning significant supply chain opportunities with the deployment of voice. “The Config Team’s expertise as an SAP gold partner and provider of PreBilt mobile solutions, together with our own voice expertise, continues to provide everything customers demand and more,” continues Jarrett.

“Euro Packaging, for example, said its voice implementation was the smoothest technology project it had ever been involved in. Due to the success of this implementation, Euro Packaging is now considering extending the voice solution across many other transactions within its operation, which is testament to the success of the picking solution currently in play.” Dakota and The Config Team are now geared to working on a number of major new projects over the coming months.

Record year

2022 proved to be the best year yet for Dakota, securing significant business growth across the board with its traditional products, services and solutions along with voice-enabled projects. “The depth of knowledge shared among our commercial and technical specialists around the functionality and usability of voice-directed technology is proving to be invaluable,” says Jarrett.

So much so that the company has recently embarked on a first-of-its-kind voice-directed maintenance & inspection (M&I) project within a multi-billion-dollar global corporation, assisting the customer to halve inspection times whilst further increasing industry compliance adherences and operational efficiencies.
 
“We are delighted with the growth that we have experienced within the business particularly during the past couple of years,” says Jarrett. “Our continued expansion and exploration into new technologies has proved fruitful, whilst still maintaining and growing our long-term relationships with existing vendors such as Zebra, which has helped us to maintain an extremely strong hold within our traditional supply chain and healthcare market sectors.”

Dynamic cultural ethos

Dakota has also established new strategic partnerships with like-minded companies that hold the same dynamic cultural ethos and growth aspirations as Dakota. All these factors have been very significant in growing the business whilst still maintaining its focus on the provision of a first-class customer service.
 
For example, Voice-Care International Ltd was established as a sister company to Dakota a little over a year ago. Voice-Care delivers a suite of voice-enabled applications and solutions, developed specifically for the healthcare sector. The solutions are designed to progressively transform patient safety and care with the ability to achieve significant productivity gains of over 30%, greater staff satisfaction and increased safety whilst attaining 100% compliance with standardised processes and procedures.
 
Voice-Care was mainly set up to address several technological issues the NHS currently faces. “The issues faced by the healthcare sector are synergetic to those we see traditionally within supply chain or maintenance and inspection applications,” explains Jarrett. “So, the whole premise behind Voice-Care was to use it to improve standards of accuracy and productivity whilst ensuring 100% compliance at all times.”
 
Voice-Care now also benefits from being an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) in the award-winning Zebra PartnerConnect programme. The Zebra PartnerConnect programme is designed to evolve the best of Zebra’s inclusive channel ecosystem, addressing the needs of distributors, resellers, solution partners, ISVs, systems integrators and technology alliance partners, providing opportunities for growth and meeting customer and market demands.
 
Jarrett explains that, as a PartnerConnect programme member, Voice-Care now has access to industry-leading solutions, training and tools that will allow it to collaborate with Zebra’s global partner network and better meet the needs of customers. “The PartnerConnect programme makes it easier for us to differentiate ourselves while working together with Zebra to give a performance edge to the front line of business,” he points out.
 
There are many applications and use cases currently being developed involving Voice-Care, including a major pilot being rolled out at a large London NHS Trust. “The systems, solutions and platforms we have developed are a combination of supply chain and M&I use cases,” says Jarrett.

Sticky element

Jarrett reflects that Dakota often talks about the different types of software and platforms and all the integration technology involved in providing a bespoke solution for customers. “However, what is often forgotten about in this dialogue is the ‘sticky’ element – the labels,” he says. “This should be referenced more often because it is the backbone of our business.

Labels and consumables within that space enable the devices we provide to read the mission-critical information that is printed on those labels. Once read, that information can then determine where the product was manufactured, where it’s being shipped to and so on. So, labels are a key component within the supply chain mechanism alongside the digital element.”

Strategic collaborations

Dakota has continued to boost its number of strategic collaborations, including its recent partnership with Waizu, the provider of solutions designed to reduce lost and missing mobile devices. The new arrangement will enable Dakota to promote and sell the entire Waizu software suite, including the Device Finder application, the Virtual Smart Cabinet and the Waizu Analytics Platform. Waizu’s story is covered in detail within this edition of Manufacturing & Logistics IT.

Growing team

New additions to the company’s ever-growing professional sales team have also had a positive impact. Indeed, the team’s growth was instrumental in prompting the company to relocate to new, larger purpose-built combined office and warehouse facilities in Manchester.

One recent recruit is key account manager Peter Jenkins. Jenkins has worked alongside Dakota for over seven years through distribution during his time as country manager with Dakota partner Newland, the designer and manufacturer of scanning and data capture solutions.

His new role at Dakota is multi-faceted, as he explains. “An essential part of my job is that I set the foundations for, and continue to build upon, the relationships with my customers whilst becoming their trusted advisor and the first person they turn to for their digital data capture requirements.

I also have to maintain and further cultivate the strong connections we have with our many suppliers to ensure that I can offer varied and complete solutions to my customers.”
 
Bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas to Dakota built on his experience within the Auto ID industry, Jenkins also plans to boost the considerable expertise within the business to enable the Dakota team to create even more varied solutions for its customers. “Every customer is different with diverse needs and requirements, and there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” he says.

“Balancing the relationship between procurement and the end user of the solution can sometimes be challenging as they can often have different priorities. Current lead times and supply chain issues make this more of a challenge at present.”

Peter Jenkins: Further cultivating strong connections with suppliers.

Maintenance and Inspection

Like Jarrett, Jenkins recognises huge potential for growth within the maintenance & inspection sphere. “Together with our partner Truckfile, we are piloting a number of major M&I projects within target sectors including automotive,” he explains. “M&I is not a one-size-fits-all software solution – we have to be laser focused looking at all individual customers and determine what their specific requirements are in terms of the equipment and machinery they need to maintain.”
 
One recent high-profile M&I project was the integration of Dakota voice-directed M&I software solution into LiuGong’s manufacturing site in Portsmouth, followed by its sites in Manchester and Uxbridge. The new solution allows LiuGong to voice-enable its ‘pre-shipped’ and ‘receiving’ inspection processes and helps the business to achieve significant time and costs savings throughout its overall manufacturing and distribution procedures.

Jarrett makes the point that Dakota is the only company outside of Honeywell with personnel who are Honeywell M&I certified and licensed to take M&I into specialist sectors such as avionics.

RFID

In addition to M&I, Jenkins explains that RFID is another key technology focus and potential growth area for Dakota. “Manufacturing and warehouse operations can benefit enormously from RFID in terms of scanning goods more quickly and accurately,” he says. “With our expertise in this area, I believe we are the perfect partner for companies who want to leverage this technology.”

Family ethos

In summary, Keith Hardy, managing director of Dakota, comments: "In various social media posts we often refer to the ‘Dakota family’. For us as a business, this is key. Put simply, we all get on, we all want to help each other, and we all want to strive to succeed. Combine this ‘family rhetoric’ with our desire to embrace new and emerging technologies into our traditional and previously untapped market sectors with the help of our valued vendor, supplier and partnership base, and it all makes for a fantastic and successful combination. We are looking forward and are very excited to continue our growth during 2023. We are raring to go.”

Together with partner Truckfile, Dakota is currently piloting a number of major M&I projects within target sectors including automotive. 

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