Barcode & RFID Solutions - Transportation & Logistics
A custom-made parcel consignment tracking application was developed for the XPRESS transportation system in order to optimize entering of orders into the system, to provide route optimization, to speed up the dispatch process in terms of handling of consignments and, last but not least, to provide accurate information on the updated consignment status to customers through web pages.
The system is based on unique identification of each transported parcel through a barcode label. The label also contains other necessary data about the consignment: consignor’s and recipient’s addresses, total number of parcels in the consignment.
Purchase orders may be accepted over the phone (in such case, they are entered into the system by the telephone operator), by filling in the form on the XPRESS website or using the client software which has been designed for customers with a higher volume of consignments. Purchase orders are gradually made using such client module and, then, they are transferred in batches via e-mail to the XPRESS system. After acceptance, each purchase order is approved by a responsible person. Then, confirmation of the purchase order altogether with the assigned consignment number, price and term of delivery are sent back via e-mail. In a respective depot, the transport documents and a set of labels for parcels are printed out for each ordered consignment. The driver carries the documents to the customer for the receipt of the consignment.
After the purchase order is confirmed and consignment number generated, the consignment route is automatically generated, including the assignment thereof to specific lines and drivers. By then, the consignment can be seen on computers in all depots which it has to pass. All parcels are scanned when they pass each depot and the data are stored in the central database in which they are immediately available through a form on the website which may be used by the customer to monitor each consignment. The access into the form is protected by a password which is generated for each client.
A web service through the EXPRESS server is provided to important customers with a large volume of consignments in which case the XPRESS system is, using the XML communication, on-line connected and integrated into the customer’s system. All consignment purchase orders are then created directly in the company’s IS and automatically transferred into the XPRESS system. The transport documents and parcel labels are also printed out at the customer’s site. Thus, there is no delay when the driver takes over the consignments. The system also provides customers with immediate information on the forwarding progress of each consignment at any stage of delivery.
Portable terminals with an integrated laser barcode reader are used for scanning the incoming or outgoing consignments to or from the depot. The processed data are transferred in batches into the system. In the largest depots with a large volume of received consignments, processing is carried out by an on-line portable terminal with radiofrequency data transfer because of the processing speed and accuracy. All depots are connected to the central database via fixed internet VPN lines. In each depot, the system operates over the local database which is replicated with the central database. The advantage of such configuration is the resistance of the system to failures in connection with the centre which may take up to several hours; a cheap slow line suffices for the operation of the depot. The MS SQL Server 7.0 database is used.
Such system, which was implemented at the customer’s site concurrently with the launch of transportation services, provides exceptional productivity of all activities. As a result, even though the number of consignments has increased one hundred times, the number of employees has increased only about three times.
However, much more important is the fact that thanks to the significant technological advance over the competitors which makes on-line connection of the customer’s system with the XPRESS possible, XPRESS wins more and more important clients who appreciated the advantages provided by the system.
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