Tracking vehicles is no longer an added extravagant for the logistics industry. However, with so many technological disruptions, it has become a mandate for them not only to monitor the movement of their vehicles, but also to analyze the vehicle movement data in order to efficiently mobilize their workforce as well as improve the overall performance of the logistics operations. This system can help with a variety of information in different situations.
Safexpress wanted to get real-time information about the vehicles entering or leaving their warehouse, as earlier, the only way was to give a phone call to the respective drivers. But calling the drivers every time is not possible however, where 100s of trucks arrive in a day. Also it is not safe for drivers to receive frequent calls even when using headphones. Even when this information is received over the phone, all the people associated never got alerted as this information is not linked with other systems.
Realizing the need of a controlled ETA of arrival of the shipments with accuracy and also the need to mobilize the workforce and connected departures, the company installed GPS and GPRS technology to receive the actual location of the trucks from a fitted device. The installation of the devices gives information as web services on every 15 minutes from the GPS service providers which has been integrated into the core ERP system. Real-time analytics run on the information provided by GPS and cargo information from the ERP to plan automatically for onward connections for cargo which earlier used to be manually driven with judgements of hub managers. This visualization can be seen with an analytics visualization tool called Tibco Spotfire which is accessible from multiple devices. An android app has been created for hub managers to see real time arrival dashboard and can plan for onwards cargo movements based on recommendation. Hub managers can use this application to get all the information for tracking, truck arrival, departure, exceptions on the warehouse floors without even need to go to office.
Safexpress has also installed airport style vehicle arrival LED screens which are connected to the GPS in real time. There are geo-fencing around the warehouses, so when trucks are reaching in the periphery of warehouse, the unloading preparedness action starts on the warehouse floor right away. This installation helped a lot in workforce mobilization while improving the workforce productivity. Analytics based on cargo connection is also helping Safexpress improve the load factor of vehicles while the overall transit time is continuously improved cutting down the delays drastically. Moreover, the visibility for hub managers also improved to a great extent as well as vehicle actual ETA. Hub managers can track all the information about the vehicles and can make better decisions based on the analytical data.
Anjani Kumar, CIO, Safeexpress did mention some of the challenges they faced during this enablement. Kumar feels that there is a lack of integration of vendors for IoT devices which forced them to prepare multi-skills resources in-house. Another bigger challenge is the connectivity as many parts of the country doesn’t have right connectivity and hence causing data feed delays. Standardization of APIs by the vendors or consortium is another challenge as each provider has different API and customization consumes lot of time. This IoT initiative has certainly brought huge improvement in productivity as well as decision making and has fundamentally changed the way things work.