Digital pen to increase efficiency
Hairdresser Kornet OHG
Transferring handwritten data into the IT system via mobile radio
Friseurbetriebe Kornet OHG provides hairdressing services in nursing and retirement homes. The company relies on an innovative solution from the Wuppertal-based Vodafone system partner Ontaris to record order, invoice and working time data. The employees on site use a digital pen that digitizes handwritten form entries and transfers them via the Vodafone network to the company’s own accounting system. The most important advantages: Saying goodbye to the traditional paper-based economy increases efficiency, speeds up billing and avoids incorrect entries.
The hairdressing company Kornet OHG, located in Herzlake, Lower Saxony, has specialized in offering hairdressing services in the area of elderly people and care. Since its foundation in 1980, the company has grown rapidly and now works in the hairdressing salons of around 400 senior citizens’ facilities throughout Germany, with further branches now also in Austria.
Traditional paper forms were originally used for invoicing and for recording the work processes of the more than 400 mobile hairdressers. However, sending the recorded data by mail, sorting it, entering it centrally into the accounting system and processing it became more and more complex in the course of rapid business growth. Today, Kornet uses a system for the automatic capture of handwritten information, which is entered into forms by the hairdressers on site, can be digitally transferred to the company’s own IT system via mobile radio without media discontinuity.
The “EasyPen-System” from Ontaris GmbH is a technology platform that makes it possible to enter data entered manually into forms simultaneously in electronic form. The heart of the solution is a ballpoint pen with integrated camera (EasyPen), which digitizes and stores information while writing.
As usual, users enter all the necessary data manually on a paper form, for example work projects, calculated costs or billing terms. The digital acquisition of the information is done automatically. This means that nothing changes for the users, they do not have to be laboriously trained in a new system. From the pen, the data is transferred to a mobile phone via Bluetooth.
For this purpose, Kornet has equipped its decentralized employees with Nokia 5800 mobile phones via Vodafone, which are also used for internal calls via the Vodafone CorporateVPN service. Tailor-made voice and data tariffs from Vodafone ensure low usage costs. Using these company mobile phones, the data is transmitted via GPRS or EDGE to a central server via Vodafone’s mobile network, which covers almost the whole of Germany.
In this server, the transmitted data is automatically processed by means of a handwriting recognition system and transmitted in encrypted form to the Kornet accounting department for further processing.
Very flexible application possibilities
To work with this IT application, companies only need to use forms that meet the necessary graphic requirements. The forms can be individually designed by the customer and are provided by Ontaris with a barely visible background pattern. This is necessary to work with the electronic pen.
The finished forms can then be printed out with a colour laser printer in any quantity. Kornet uses a whole range of forms developed in-house, including service lists, receipts, but also forms for ordering goods and employee vacation requests.
Integration into the operational workflows
At Kornet, the most important role in simplifying work processes is played by the operating lists and receipts kept by the employees. Just like the paper receipts used in the past, the corresponding forms are filled out directly by the hairdressers on site using a pen. An automatic storage of the current system time facilitates later plausibility checks.
All invoice amounts, such as payments received and calculated daily totals, are noted by the employee by hand on the appropriate form. As soon as the complete list entries are acknowledged by a handwritten tick, the recorded information is automatically sent. The server converts the received data into electronically processable tables. The start of work can also be recorded automatically by simply placing a check mark on the form.
By using this mobile IT application, the Kornet company was able to significantly simplify the recording of order and invoice data as well as cash receipts. Whereas in the past, employees had to send paper forms by mail and laboriously enter them manually in the accounting department, today the data can be retrieved from a central location in a single step and processed immediately in the company’s own IT system.
This significantly simplifies the work in the accounting department. In addition, input errors that were practically unavoidable in the past are now largely avoided. If handwritten entries, for example invoice totals, are not plausible, the system automatically points this out and displays the field in question in color in the form for further checking.
The solution deliberately avoids the use of complicated input devices. Instead, users write as usual with a pen on normal paper. As a result, the solution can be integrated into the operational processes right away, even without comprehensive training. They are suitable for use in all areas in which handwritten information and confirmations are required. Examples are freight forwarders, technical customer service, time recording in the construction sector or inventory tasks. A commercially available mobile phone is used to transfer the recorded data, which can also be used to make phone calls and, if necessary, to attach photos (for example in the case of expert opinions). The data transmission is carried out in Vodafone’s excellently developed mobile network, so the application can be used immediately anywhere.
By introducing the mobile IT application from Ontaris and Vodafone, Friseurbetriebe Kornet OHG was able to significantly speed up the billing and recording of decentrally provided services and make them much more transparent. The previously necessary central processing of paper documents is a thing of the past.
This not only makes the company’s administrative processes much more efficient. The susceptibility to errors was also significantly reduced by avoiding media breaks. Thanks to Vodafone’s mobile network, the system can be used immediately anywhere.