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24.06.2016

How mobile can make functioning of businesses easier

The influence of smart phones on our society has been visible for quite a long time. Mobile devices are used on a daily basis – ranging from alarm clocks through calculators to photo processing applications or NFC used as a payment card. Can versatility of mobile devices prove useful in all lines of business? How can mobile solutions be utilized e.g. in the construction business? In cooperation with Lafarge we have managed to create an interesting solution - on the basis of a case study from our field – and we would like to demonstrate that similar functionalities may be implemented in businesses conducting other types of economic activities.

Obviously, mobile proves very useful when we are on the move. By definition we use mobile devices for the purpose of communication. It is therefore a foregone conclusion that mobile will come handy in any company dealing with logistics. A good example of such a mobile solution for this type of company is Lafarge Poland – a key market player in the business of building material.

Huge quantities of transported cement, concrete and metal are inextricably connected with a complicated logistics process. Not only must huge quantities of goods be transported but then the load must be delivered to the construction site. Moreover, the delivery time is of vital importance. Big ventures like that are susceptible to problems and misunderstandings. Obviously, the driver can be delayed more than previously anticipated. Further difficulties may also arise at a later time – when the goods are delivered to the destination. For instance, waiting time in a queue for unloading.

What have we designed in cooperation with Lafarge?

Taking into account specificity of business processes we have designed a special mobile application Lafarge (Android system) as well as an SMS service. The concept is simple : the driver can quickly and efficiently communicate via the application or SMS with Lafarge logistics center, for which we have designed a dedicated WWW dashboard. Thanks to this solution the driver can in a fast and easy way communicate information to the logistics center, which in turn has up-to-date data on traffic and delivery status.

The application focuses on the most important issues only and allows:

  1. to receive a transport order on the phone,
  2. to inform about a delay in delivery or a vehicle problem (all in a simple way),
  3. to confirm the fact of cargo delivery (key functionality for logistics),
  4. to check the history of orders carried out on a particular day.

The above functions are convenient for both the drivers and the logistics specialists (logistics center). As a result the human error ratio is decreased to an absolute minimum, the flow of information is swift and all data is automatically recorded in the system, which facilitates the management of the whole system.

Application

The application has 3 tabs : “current”, “history” and “user”.
In the first tab – “current” – there are new transport orders for the driver. The information in the tab includes : loading place, order number, expected time of delivery, estimated time until delivery as well as special buttons / icons which give the possibility to quickly pass information about any changes in the situation to the logistics center.
The application has four icons indicating: waiting in queue, break, traffic jam and technical problem. The last button “delivered” confirms the cargo delivery.
All delivered transport orders can be found in the “History” tab while the “User” tab is used to enter the drivers telephone number, which should be entered during the first application launch.
Naturally, one may have certain doubts about internet-based solutions like that – in some regions of Poland/Europe there can be weak or even no internet connection which will render the application useless. However, we have also prepared for such situations. In such cases we can resort to SMS messages which can be sent to number 3303 (cost of SMS as per your tariff plan). Moreover, SMS messages also tend to be preferred by older driver who have limited trust for such applications.

***

The solution created with Lafarge is very universal and intuitive. Most importantly, it fulfills the fundamental function i.e. it helps to communicate. Each and every enterprise with a logistics department could make use of this type of application because transport and storage problems arise in most bigger enterprises. It is worth bearing in mind that it is not only cutting-edge technology based on specialized equipment that may come to aid but also a simple smart phone application.