Do it once. Do it Right. The Nuway
Case Studies

Transportation: Trans 4 Logistics

Situation

STAPLES Business Depot is Canada's largest supplier of office supplies, business machines, office furniture, and business services to small business and home office customers. The Staples catalogue and online store offer more than 7,000 different office products.

Trans 4, a division of TransForce, provides last-mile logistics for Staples Canada. Trans 4's Staples-branded fleet of 130 owner-operators delivers from 16 different hubs across six provinces.

The previous paper-based process provided little accountability for customers, clients, or drivers. Paperwork was error-prone, inaccurate, and easy for drivers to falsify. Proof of deliveries were hard to find and consumed a great deal of storage space. A significant increase in delivery volume was severely impacting delivery efficiency because paper doesn’t scale well.

Staples and Trans 4 needed a new way to operate. The following project goals were identified:

  • Barcode scanning at four touch points for rigorous package accountability
  • Eliminate the need to print waybills and manually allocate them to the various delivery zones (a process that consumed one to two hours every night)
  • Centralized visibility of the fleet nation-wide at any point during the day
  • Operate in French and English
  • Capture customer signature electronically
  • Proof of delivery available on the Trans 4 website within 24 hours of delivery
  • EDI 214 delivery confirmations sent to Staples's order system

Solution

Nuway developed the "iTrac" system to achieve these goals and more. The system enables the following workflow:

  1. Dock workers at Staples’s main distribution centers use Intermec 750 handhelds to scan each package as skids are built for the line-haul trucks. This is the first scan.
  2. The skids arrive at Trans 4's distribution hubs and are broken down and with the Intermec 750, they are each scanned as “in the building”. This is the second scan.
  3. The packages are then placed in loading areas for each driver.
  4. The drivers download their routes onto their Intermec 763 handhelds over a Wi-Fi network. The routes are composed by geography-matching and load-balancing rules in the server software.
  5. If there is a new version of the software available, the handhelds automatically update themselves.
  6. The driver sequences his route on the handheld until the stops are in the order he desires.
  7. The driver loads the truck from the last stop to first, scanning each package onto the truck. This is the third scan.
  8. When ready, the driver confirms that the route has started by entering odometer and fuel readings. At this point, the device switches over to its Bell cellular modem to communicate in real-time with the server. The device is able to receive messages from the server should the dispatcher send additional stops to the driver.
  9. The driver performs each delivery by scanning the packages (this is the fourth scan) and then requesting a signature capture from the customer. Within twenty seconds of delivery, the delivery confirmation is sent to the server, including the signature. This triggers the sending of an EDI 214 confirmation to Staples.
  10. If the delivery is unable to be performed, the system marks the order for redelivery the same day or the following day based on specific business rules.
  11. Every failed delivery attempt receives a doorknocker. The doorknocker's barcode is scanned and the number and timestamp are sent to Staples as proof of a delivery attempt.
  12. Trans 4's centralized dispatch is able to view route status from a dashboard Web application.

Technology

Handheld

The drivers perform an average of fifty stops over a ten to twelve hour period. The Intermec 763 was chosen over Symbol as the right tool for the job due to its superior power management. Within the warehouses only Wi-Fi connectivity was required, so Intermec 750s were deployed.

Network

The owner-operators do not return to Trans 4's hubs at the end of each day. This data transfer challenge was overcome by using Bell Mobility's 1x cellular network, which is faster than GPRS. All data and proof of delivery signatures were transferred in real-time to the server after each delivery. To economize on data transfer, Nuway implemented two layers of proprietary compression.

Mobile Software

iTrac is a .NET 1.1 application running on PocketPC 2002 and 2003. All working data is stored in a local SQL CE2 database and the data is synchronized with the server through optimized custom web service calls.

Server Software

The iTrac order processing, messaging infrastructure and dispatch dashboard were written in ASP.NET 1.1. All server side data is stored in the legacy Oracle 9i database.

Benefits

  • No more paper! Drivers spend less time on paperwork, and more time delivering.
  • Proof of Delivery on the Trans 4 website 30 seconds after delivery exceeded customer's expectations!
  • Complete piece tracking provides accountability for receivers, drivers, and customers. No more finger pointing.
  • Real-time fleet visibility eliminates "morning chaos" and cell phone usage on the road.
  • Accurate delivery data enables accurate billing and payroll.
  • Standardized training and service level from the entire fleet. New drivers simply follow the screen prompts.

Customer Information

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What if there was a new way
  • Software could be consistently delivered on time
  • Software always meets the user's needs
  • Software could be easily changed and extended, at any time
  • Software could be built faster
  • We could look at the mistakes of the last decade and take a different path to avoid them
Read about our process

Quotes

If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.

Charles Kettering



Application Screen Samples:

Main Menu
Main Menu

Sequence Route
Driver Sequences Route

Signature Capture
Signature Capture

Dispatch
Dispatch Dashboard