Article published in Logística Moderna Magazine
The management and operations of transport and logistics companies may benefit strongly from the application of information technology. In fact, this may be a unique opportunity, which if well applied, may provide a privileged view of business, with the added bonus of providing it in real time. Efficient operations require decisions to be taken at exactly the right time, which implies that the position of a fleet must be known with great accuracy.
There are many solutions available today, to meet the different needs of companies, in terms of decision-making as well as operational needs. These systems range from positioning systems to complete global solutions for supporting corporate management.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) together with remote detection of vehicles supply the critical data needed for the management of the transport, distribution and logistics business.
The location of customers, warehouses, vehicles (by means of GPS), optimization of tours and generation of statistical and qualitative data on the entire operation, are a few of the advantages stemming from the use of this technology. Benefits are seen in terms of reduced mileage, less overtime worked, improved tours, more customer visits per day, and improved use of mobile units, al of which contribute to reduce operational costs.
The system marketed by ESRI Portugal includes a communications system (GSM or Trunking), a location system (GPS), and a geographical information system which forms an analysis, management and reporting system. Obviously, information systems must not exist as isolated pockets of data, but must integrate with existing solutions. Thus, one of the key components of the solution is the integration with an existing ERP, such as SAP.
GIS stations send position requests to the communications centre, which are processed in order of arrival.
Operations are controlled from GIS workstations with basic functionality, such as: obtain vehicle position, track a vehicle in real time, determine route followed, look up past positions.
ESRI Portugal bases its offer on integrated GIS products, but stresses that “they have been complemented by the addition of Lizardtech image compression products and ERDAS image processing products”, of which they are a distributor.
Real time monitoring
The Segurmovel system provides real time fleet monitoring from your head office.
This is made possible through the installation of GPS and GSM equipment in the relevant vehicles and a mini control centre in the company offices.
This equipment allows the manager to view and locate on-line vehicles whenever they start or stop, or upon request, by means of digital maps, both at national or international level.
Besides this functionality, it is possible to send information to the vehicles by means of predefined messages; alternatively, whenever a more specific message must be sent, one may use free text. Altogether, if you are not interested in acquiring a mini control centre, Segurmovel may instead manage your vehicles via their own control centre, and send a daily report to the client. Alternatively, information may be requested by telephone at any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
A sharpened vision
Inosat developed the Inofrota system for companies needing vehicle location systems, resource optimisation and fleet management systems. The system provides users with a greater proximity between the operational centre and the vehicles wherever they may be in the country or abroad. Inosat systems provide a more focussed view of a fleet’s variable costs, as well as permitting a reduction in operational costs, through improvements in efficiency.
The functionality of the Inofrota system allows a wide range of data to be collected, such as number of trips executed, kilometres, journey times, route reports on a digital map, weekly activity report, distance covered, speeding events, average fuel consumptions, or unauthorised vehicle use.
Vehicle dispatch and tour assignment is a laborious and yet essential task in any distribution operation, as this is increasingly the only effective way of maintaining competitiveness.
The advance of technology, as can be seen, allows this to be done better and faster.
SIG Móvel Geologística, a scheduling and routing system from Geograf, is a solution for making your operations more efficient, if what you are looking for is a tool which allows you to locate sites, determine stopping points and their order in terms of time, or determine number of available vehicles and their capacity, in order to improve the efficiency of your operations.
Independently of the size of your fleet, the Geo-logistics application provides a set of tools permitting the planning of distribution routes, as well as the optimisation of itineraries, taking into account the nature of routes and logistical parameters, such as vehicle capacities, delivery times, or costs of delays.
Of equal importance is the possibility to create and export delivery reports per vehicle, containing costs, times, start and finish times, goods involved and any other relevant data. Reports include an exhaustive description of the route – useful for the driver – and may be printed as a map view or in road book form.
The system also allows the possibility of integration with the AVL – Automatic Vehicle Location – solution or as a complete solution, using bidirectional communications for the integration of fleet monitoring.
Throughout the entire length of the chain
Burotica provides tools, software and hardware which meet the needs of the entire supply chain at the automatic identification level: optimisation of warehouse processing (Voice picking), optimization of loading (Load Designer), and optimisation of transport and routes (Winroute), based on the concepts of control centre and vehicle systems.
The Optidis – Control Centre consists of four areas: ERP, Management System and WMS; transport and route planning (Winroute); warehousing, with the control and optimisation of processes; and “Loading”, which includes preparation and optimisation of load, vehicle status and tour data. The capabilities of Optidis – Vehicles are also varied. At the vehicle level it permits communication with the control centre, by means of sending and reception of data (GSM, GPRS, Wireless LAN), and allows control over the status of the vehicle by means of connection to a tachograph, and monitoring of door sensors and navigation.
Winroute permits the planning, analysis, and optimisation of distribution, both at order level and at the vehicle or control centre. Planning allows the importing of fleet and tour data, generation of simulations, real time reporting to the control centre, comparison of planned with actual objectives or simple geographical location.
Real time information
The on-board system, designed and developed by Tecmic, is an integrated management system resulting from the precise needs of logistics operators, and which provides in real time all the information distributed across the fleet. This information feeds the existing back-office system, and thus contributes to the optimization of all of the company’s resources.
XTraN consists of a central IT system interconnected to the rest of the company’s IT systems in order to guarantee a robust flow of information between the vehicles’ on-board systems and the office-based systems. Communication between the management system and the on-board units is implemented using any kind of mobile communications network (TETRA, GSM or Trunking), thereby displaying vehicles’ positions on a map.
The optimisation of communications costs is one of the main concerns in the development of the system. Data transmission strategies are used both nationally and in roaming mode to ensure reliability and correct prioritisation of transmitted data.
Two main types of data exchanged between vehicle and home base may be identified:
- Economic data concerning the operation of the fleet which can optimise not only its use but also management of maintenance. The system automatically provides more than 80% of the information on these costs. Among this data is refuelling and consumption data, engine and load space temperature monitoring, actual traveled distance, vehicle positions, speeding events, RPM, acceleration and braking, average speeds per journey, and monitoring of open doors, among others.
- Information concerning activities carried out by users of the vehicles. The on-board computer allows the driver to receive from the Control Centre, by means of a console, all information necessary to carry out his tasks.
The company is able to track the activities of all employees, provide assistance when required and finally, know the result of his activities as soon as they are concluded.
Step by step the system collects data concerning driving and rest times, deliveries and collections executed and pending, information on anomalies, goods tracking, control over waybills at time of delivery, analysis of deliveries and collections (date/time of loading/unloading, stoppage times), all with the aim of creating synergies between the various company departments.
Finally, data concerning the end customer may be collected (such as date and times of deliveries, payment methods, result of advertising campaigns, and products delivered), which is of extreme value for preparing targeted and personalized advertising.