Dicom Transportation Group (DTG) is a business-to-business Delivery & Distribution company operating within the US and Canada. It provides express, freight and logistic services, fulfilling 75,000 shipments per day. Dicom Express is a small-package courier company offering both ground and air transportation services within Ontario, Quebec, and to all cities in Western Canada as well as the Atlantic Provinces. Dicom Express was the first of three subsidiaries of the Dicom Group transporting over 10-million packages per year.
The Client Challenge
Over the past year, DTG were in the process of creating new cross border partnerships and expanding their geographic reach. One major challenge they were faced with was how to effectively equip their expanding field-service workforce of 700+ drivers with the mobility tools required to capture Proof of Delivery and Proof of Pickup scan points. A legacy system built on the Microsoft Windows Mobile platform years prior was already deployed in the field. Users were equipped with ruggedized hand-held devices that were aging and in some cases past their end-of-life date. DTG was faced with excessive costs to replace the aging devices as well as the added cost of purchasing yet more devices for their expanding workforce. In addition, the Windows Mobile operating system that served as the foundation for their existing applications was designed in an era before consumer smartphones and as such the overall user experience lacks many features that users now expect in a software solution.
Many of DTG’s mobile users (Courier Drivers in this case) are independent contractors and carry their own Smartphone devices. DTG decided to leverage the opportunity afforded by that fact and create a suite of Line of Business mobile applications that run on standard consumer devices running Google Android or Apple’s iOS operating Systems.
DTG tendered an RFP in early 2015, and it was awarded to PHD Solutions. PHD Solutions was selected for their extensive expertise in developing enterprise-grade mobility solutions for the Transportation and Logistics industry.
PHD Solutions reached out to Code Chemistry in order to leverage their experience in architecting solid, scalable cross-platform mobility solutions. The two teams made an excellent pairing.
The Technical Challenge
The growth of DTG was rapidly outpacing the ability for its existing mobility solutions to meet their needs. The environment was one that called for a set of agile, flexible and easily adaptable solutions that would keep pace with their increasing demands.
The main challenges were:
- Distill complex business requirements down to a set of functional application workflows that minimized user interaction and streamlined the process for maximum efficiency.
- Conform to iOS and Android design patterns while ensuring consistent user flow and functionality across both platforms.
- Design and implement the technical architecture for a complex multi-platform solution that would as much as possible share a common code base across all platforms.
- Design application features as a set of pluggable modules that can be enabled/disabled or even replaced across differing target applications for the separate DTG Entities.
- Create a sophisticated data storage and synchronization mechanism that allowed for each application to function correctly even while offline.
- Design and implement a scalable API to send and receive data from connected devices.
- The largest source of user-interaction to these applications is performed by the scanning of barcodes. To allow maximum flexibility to users, scanning capability was provided using 4 possible means:
- Use the device’s built-in camera as a scanner
- Scan using a Bluetooth peripheral hand scanner
- Utilize a built-in barcode scanner for special purpose devices such as the XP7700 provided by Sonim
- Allow users to manually key a barcode
Together we have created four distinct mobility solutions in the DTG “Smart” series for DTG that address various operational challenges.
DTG WorkSmart & EC Worksmart
These applications are used directly by over 600 DTG & EC (Eastern Connection) courier drivers. They provide operations with the ability to track individual parcels loaded into trucks, proof of delivery scans, delivery statuses for each package and proof of pickup scans. DTG Worksmart improves the efficiency and accuracy of driver operations, enabling drivers to accomplish more each day. It also provides greater visibility to the end customer as each scan point is made available via DTG’s customer portal, allowing customers to track the progress of their shipments.
DTG ReceiveSmart is used by high-volume customers of DTG, granting them the ability to reconcile large palletized shipments delivered to them by DTG freight drivers. When a pallet of received freight is unpacked at the customers’ location, each piece is scanned by the application and the results are sent back to DTG immediately. The benefit for both parties is immediate visibility for pieces received, damaged, missing or mis-sorted. Deployment of this application has greatly reduced the effort required to reconcile these large, high-value shipments.
DTG Warehouse is used by in-terminal staff, the primary focus of DTG Warehouse is to provide Track & Trace capabilities across all Dicom in-terminal operations. This includes the ability to apply status events to parcels on arrival and departure from terminals as well as allow users to containerize freight by associating individual parcels with larger containers in a hierarchal fashion.
Despite the complexity of the undertaking, all the applications were delivered on time and budget with full functionality. They have since been full integrated into DTG operations. The solutions have been well received by employees and management alike and are now contributing to delivering efficiencies across the business.
Interested in hearing more about how we can help your business realize operational efficiencies by mobilizing your field staff? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
PHD Solutions is ready to understand your needs, and to create an intelligent software solution for your complex business challenge.