Often, organizations shy away from adopting or upgrading their digital transportation management solutions, because the task seems just too complicated. If that describes your situation, know that you are not alone in feeling so. The solution lies in taking small and meaningful steps.

According to Christian Titze, research director at Gartner, supply chain businesses must asses their company’s culture to determine their readiness to adapt new digital offerings. She adds, “If in doubt, consider piloting small projects to determine whether the potential benefit of the technology trend is worth the risk and required investment in new skills, capabilities and services.” That’s some handy advice right there. In addition, you could take inspiration from the following case studies about shippers, 3PL businesses, and other businesses related to the transportation and logistics industry, overcoming unique challenges by adopting newer technologies.

Case 1 – Data Warehousing Solution

Challenge:

A steamship equipment depot management facility that stores and repairs equipment for some of the largest steamship companies in the world, needed to disseminate information among its many facilities, provide customers with timely and credible repair estimates, keep them informed about their equipment, provide them with an interface where they could view equipment activity, approve repairs, and create bookings. They also needed to provide customers with data that could be integrated in their own systems and applications.

Solution:

Aptude built a robust data warehousing solution that allowed the depot’s customers to access the new enterprise system via a secure internet connection. Gate activity (storage) was captured in real time using a hand-held device with images that updated a live database via a 802.11 b connection. Repair estimates were generated on the hand-held unit as intermodal equipment came into the depot. The estimates were also sent to the database via an 802.11 connection. Once the repair was stored in the database, a scheduled job would electronically notify the depot’s client that a repair estimate was created for a particular unit, and they needed to approve or disapprove it.

The new hand-held/ repair piece can potentially save days in the repair estimation process. The application has increased labor efficiencies, provided immediacy, and increased customer satisfaction. Repair estimates that are more credible, accurate, and timely lead to more repair approvals which led to higher sales. Reducing labor resources via the hand held, online reports and business to business transactions reduces our client’s expenses.

Case 2 – Application Support Solution

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Challenge:

Our client, a Chicago based leader in transportation and logistics, provides multi-modal solutions throughout North America. Founded in the early 1970s, they have created and supported a myriad of application environments both old and new in over four decades. These include Oracle Transport Management, Legacy AS400 Applications, real time mobile applications, and a host of additional middleware, BI and database applications. The client needed a sound 24X7 support infrastructure for these applications.

Solution:

Aptude provided the client with a 24/7 application support model across their Applications, BI, Mobile, Database Administration, Identity Management. The solution utilized world class Cherwell ITIL based ITSM software with capabilities that include: Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Request Management, Event Management, Release & Deploy Management, Service Portfolio Management, and Knowledge Management.

Advantages include reduction in issues & tickets, and lower cost for application support. Expensive IT resources were freed up allowing them to work on more strategic application initiatives. The client achieved peace of mind, knowing support was handled 24/7 by a trusted source using sophisticated tools and technology.

Case study 3 – Mobile Application Solution

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Challenge:

A leading inland container and steamship line organization with multiple facilities around the United States had an enterprise custom web based application that tracked container and chassis information as it entered and exited the yard gate. Data captured was logged via paper and then at the end of the day was entered into the client’s web based custom solution. Additional data integration occurred with their clients who were steamship companies. Information disseminated included repair estimates, daily storage charges, etc.

The client’s existing legacy system incurred delays, while labor costs and errors were embedded in their manual processes. For instance, a repair would be noted on the check-in sheet, while another inspector would later go into the field and create an estimate on paper. This information was further entered into the website and pushed to the client, creating several layers of redundancies. Additionally, delays occurred in disseminating information to their clients due to the lag in entering the data into the website.

Solution:

Aptude created a hybrid mobile application for the inspector at the gate that captured both inbound and outbound gate traffic and pushed it to the internal applications as well as the client in real time. In addition, repair estimates, when needed, were generated at check-in with related videos and photos. The estimate with related back-up information was pushed to the client for approval. The implementation of the hybrid mobile application took a labor intensive process which often caused several days of delay and reduced it to minutes – thereby increasing revenue, reducing user error and labor cost.

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Our support services will free up your senior IT staff from the overwhelming burden of day-to-day maintenance issues. Now they’ll have time to launch those new projects and applications you’ve been waiting for. Simply put, we can free up your resources and contain your costs. Let’s have a quick chat to discuss our exclusive services.

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Case Study 4: Big Data Solution

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Challenge:

Our client, a leader in the transportation and logistics domain, was facing this Big Data predicament. Combined, their trucks travel roughly 8 million miles per day to deliver their cargo. The client needed a method to effectively analyze truck travel patterns to gain an understanding on a myriad of issues including how many ‘empty miles’ were accrued on routes and subsequently make adjustments for more efficient deliveries. Utilizing their own in-house logistics tracking software the client had been temporarily storing log files for analyzing and debugging issues related to the optimizer’s ‘selection process’. Due to the massive amount of data being pushed into these files, they were only retaining this data for a short duration. Additionally, since the data was unstructured, developers would have to manually extract, parse, and search the data every time they needed to perform an analysis.

Solution:

After obtaining information through our requirements gathering and discovery process, we architected a Big Data solution using Hadoop in conjunction with a combination of other key open-source components to harness its full potential. In doing so, we created the MapReduced architecture illustrated below.

Our solution pre-processes and prepares the data to be consumed, creating a ‘solution’ and a ‘problem’ file. These files are then aggregated and distributed: log files are sent to Solr for indexing and ‘solution’ data to HDFS. Data is then passed into a sink to process and load it into a Hadoop component, which is then distributed to Solr Cloud and HDFS respectively. The end result is structured data availability in multiple formats, with flexibility for low latency queries provided through Cloudera Impala and data visualization with OBIEE connectivity.

With minimal hardware resources and a collection of open-source software requiring no licensing fees, we realized the client’s big data solution at a fraction of the cost of a traditional relational database solution. The Hadoop implementation resulted in cost and time savings, with an additional benefit from the boost in productivity they have achieved with their new analytical assets.

Case Study 5: 3PL Mobile Tracking Solution

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Challenge:
Our client, a large transportation and logistics company, needed a tracking solution that would run on any smartphone (iOS or Android). The solution requirements included delivering real-time verifiable information on every load brokered to 3rd party carriers. The solution needed to track freight in an automated fashion that would allow our client, their drivers, and carriers, to do their job better.

Solution:

We designed a solution with a driver interface i.e. a mobile application that facilitates communication between the driver, carrier, and our client. It also included real-time load tracking as they near pick-up and destinations. Single and multi-stop shipments are continually monitored thereby providing validated location updates needed to manage their supply chain. Automated pick-up and departure confirmation are provided through geo-fencing. The system also allows for critical updates to our client and carriers, including inbound/outbound related information and documentation.

Benefits include better visibility for all the stakeholders, leading to higher satisfaction for the end client who is using our client for delivery. Our client benefits from improved visibility into carrier performance and ramp/railroad detention delays, and carrier accountability.

Conclusion

As per a publication by Ernst & Young, the volume of goods shipped will quadruple by 2050. The report adds: “Given the accelerating pace of change, TL companies need to transform themselves for a world where they are no longer protected by entry barriers, competition comes from all directions, and digitalization will become the major agent of change.”

As is evident from the case studies, every organization faces unique challenges depending upon their business and its larger context. While the solution might seem complicated, it may not necessarily be so. The safest approach to upgrading your technology infrastructure is to work with a 3rd party IT service provider experienced in this particular domain. The point is, the longer you wait, the harder it is going to become to adapt to the changing times. Do you agree? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Looking for a Transportation Management Solution Partner?

Aptude is a transportation systems implementation and integration innovator with nearly 20 years of IT consulting experience. As a Microsoft and Oracle Certified Gold Partner, we have the experience to get your technical solution implemented properly.

Capabilities include:

  • Business Intelligence & Reporting
  • Big Data Solutions
  • Application Support
  • Mobile App Development
  • Oracle Transportation Management

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