Real-time package tracking, routing, and route optimization isn’t new, as the big global delivery companies have been doing it for a while now, and neither is Airclic‘s Transport Perform solution, but its tight integration with their new Route Planning and Route Optimization solutions, their enhanced support for multi-national organizations and international routes, and their improved end-user configurability is.
SI doesn’t review real time vehicle tracking, route management and last mile delivery software very often as it is not core Supply Management functionality for the average enterprise, that typically outsources this aspect of Supply Management to a 3PL which has this solution in place, but Airclic’s recent incorporation of support for simultaneous high-volume cross-docking, multi-driver cross-border routes, their new web-portal that makes their platform as easy to use as a multi-tab spreadsheet, and extensive configurability options attracted our attention.
One fact that comes through loud and clear in a review of their solution is that they understand the importance of a clear, easy to use, non-distracting, straight-to-the-point interface for dock workers and truck drivers, especially when all these people have is a small, primarily text based, mobile device. The application, which can be pre-configured with relevant supplier data, including whether the supplier is ASN-based or non-ASN-based (Advance Shipping Notice), allows the application to be customized to each supplier so that a dock worker or driver only has to enter the absolute minimal amount of information (which, for an ASN-based supplier, can be as little as scanning a barcode) and when additional data has to be collected, is presented with a minimal list of options to choose from. For an average ASN supplier, it’s select the supplier, scan the barcode, and, if the item is damaged, check a box, record the reason and, optionally, upload a picture. For an average non-ASN supplier, it’s select the supplier, enter the piece or item ID, an (optional) container ID, and destination. The application supports receiving, loading, migration of pieces/items to containers, container consolidation, returns, and depot transfers for dock workers and route selection, stop identification, pick up, deliveries, returns, depot drop-offs (for undeliverable items) and unscheduled customer stops for drivers. All data is collected and transmitted in real time to the web portal over the cellular network and updates and alerts are transmitted back to the driver in real time. In addition, alerts can automatically generated and sent to the supplier when a driver is getting close to their location.
Their web-portal allows the dispatcher to see the current status of every route, driver, dock-worker, shipment, and item. The routes are simultaneously displayed in text view and on a Google Map and either option can be used for drill-down. The interface allows the dispatcher to make changes in real time, and updates the drivers and dock workers as appropriate. If the organization has a route optimization solution, it can be integrated with the solution and optimized routes pulled in on the fly. If the organization does not have a route optimization solution, the dispatcher can manually define new and altered routes or use Airclic’s route optimization solution.
The built-in reporting is very extensive, with just about every report (template) that a dispatcher will need. There are route and route item reports, full chain of custody reports, complete item history reports, proof of service reports, inventory reports, order reports, GPS and container tracking reports, damage reports, route reports, stop reports, etc. They can be automatically generated and directed to the right individual.
But the best part of the solution is the administrative panel. Everything is configurable at a very fine-grained level of detail. Groups (which correspond to different regions, divisions, or locales with different operating rules), users, locations, handsets, workers, internationalization, routes, loading and delivery processes, can be defined and customized as needed – and the right version of the application that is localized for the driver and delivery location can be delivered to the right handset every time. When a truck is handed off from an English speaking driver to a Spanish speaking driver after a border crossing, the application can be configured to be smart enough to recognize the changeover and deliver the Spanish version for the Spanish handset pre-configured with the delivery options for the Mexican market. A multi-national will a lot of trucks, drivers, pick-up, and delivery locations will have to invest the time to integrate with it’s current Supply Management solution and to configure the Airclic solution to the appropriate level of detail, but it’s easy to see how a 3PL will easily save 400/month per truck. That savings, which approaches 500K a year for a 3PL with 100 trucks in its fleet, adds up fast!