Founded in 1957, the client is a global leader in the provision of end-to-end supply chain solutions to defense, government, and commercial clients in challenging environments around the world. The group has operations in 20 countries across five continents and provides key supply chain services including procurement, transportation, storage, and complete site services. They have a long history of providing support to international organizations and governments and continues to serve high-profile clients including the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the US Department of Defense (DoD), and the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), among others.
As a logistics service provider transporting goods within and across countries to remote and inaccessible regions, tracking moveable units and assets is a critical function for the client. Their logistics operations team relied on conventional methods of phone, fax, and manual processes to track the movement of goods.
The goods are usually transported from storage warehouses across the country using multimodal means of transportation (mainly trucks and aircraft). With an expansion in the number of locations being serviced and more nodes being added, it was a challenge to get accurate information on the goods that were in transit. In the case of perishable and high-value products, the client also wanted to have near real-time information available for its logistics command center so that any delay or change in schedule could be better managed.
To overcome these challenges, the client wanted to implement a custom web and mobile-based solution and required the support of an experienced technology vendor.
After extensive discussions between the client’s business team and Experion’s consultants, Experion signed the contract to develop the solution.
The solution was envisioned by both parties as having barcode scanning capabilities at waypoints, a mobile application running on Windows PDAs to capture information from the field, and a web application for the logistics command center to track the movement of goods.
The web application was developed as a set of workflows to create movement requests, accept items in the warehouse, create receipt notes, verify items, generate barcode stickers, pack items into pallets and approve for transfer/ dispatch. At each point on the route where transshipment/ unpacking/ repacking/ transfer would occur, the barcode on each movable item would be scanned using Windows mobile-based PDA devices with barcode scanners, with the data recorded in the database. At the receiving station, the movable units would be scanned again and the details would be captured in the system to determine whether it is a direct delivery shipment or transit goods.
The application was designed for PDA devices to update the movement of items from the point of origin, through aircraft, intermediate locations, and trucks, up to the final destination and delivery to customers. All information is transferred in real-time to the central database, thereby enabling the user to track the status of the shipment through the web interface.
The PDA application was designed to work even during limited network connectivity to later synchronize with the central database when connectivity is restored. The solution can be managed by an integrated user account management software with role-based privileges. The solution is also capable of printing transit and tracking reports, apart from a host of expandable feature-rich reports like stocks in flight, goods in transit, location-based reports, purchase order reports, etc.
The solution was successfully developed and deployed by Experion as a closely managed project using Agile development methodologies.
- The solution helped the client make significant savings on operational costs, by reducing returns and wastage
- The client’s logistics management team was able to get a real-time update of goods in transit, thereby improving control and visibility over operations
- By automating the capture of details using a barcode-based method, the percentage of errors while tracking the movement of goods was reduced to near zero
- The solution was deployed for managing operations across different regions and helped the client scale up its global operations
- Windows Mobile
- Microsoft SQL Server