VISA Global Logistics improves reliability with handheld computer

Supplier: Intermec
20 September, 2012

Founded 28 years ago, VISA Global Logistics has become Australia's largest privately owned international freight forwarding company.

Operating in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle and from offices in Hong Kong, China, Italy and New Zealand, they deliver a fully integrated solution that includes forwarding, clearance, warehouse, distribution. VISA doesn't rely on third parties and have continued to develop an operating environment that enables greater visibility and participation by customers in the shipping process.

This commitment to openness is underscored through their utilisation of an in-house built, real time, web-based freight management platform. VISA's choice in technology partners means they are equipped to operate to world-class standards and their extensive suite of services, networks and people have been established so they are in the position to provide seamless logistics solutions to consistently operate in the customer's best interests.

The challenge

Over the last five years, VISA's truck drivers have been using the Dolphin 9500 hand-held computers when transporting containers and loose cargo. These devices provided the drivers with task allocation and were used to update the status of the current job in progress.

VISA Global logistics recognised that the existing platform was outdated and unreliable. It had a slow internet connection (GPRS) and unreliable GSM module that was causing frustration amongst the truck drivers.

The existing version of Windows mobile (PocketPC 2003) was no longer supported by Microsoft and many workarounds needed to be implemented to keep the platform running.

VISA decided that they needed to upgrade from the existing fleet of Dolphin 9500 handheld terminals to a dependable platform that would be compatible with evolving technologies in the future and so be supported in the long term.

The solution

VISA Global Logistics planned a 2010 nationwide upgrade, which involved comparing the leading products on the market to identify a replacement for the existing platform. After reviewing the core requirements, SkyWire – a Sydney-based integrator – recommended the Intermec CN50 terminal. The CN50 runs an in-house developed transport application (.NET Compact Framework) which communicates with the central enterprise system using wireless technology (3G).

The handheld was introduced to VISA based on the broad suite of features, 3G connectivity, and durability that the terminal offered. By using the 3G technology, the application provides drivers with up-to-date information about task allocation and also submitting current job status back to the server.

VISA's software provides job information to truck drivers and utilises the touch screen on the device for user interaction. Truck drivers are assigned jobs by a transport allocator on the central system and these jobs are displayed to the truck drivers on the device, along with detailed information. When a job is started, the driver confirms arrival and departure of individual legs as they occur by pressing on-screen buttons on the CN50.

The application records the time, action and current location (using GPS) and sends the information back to the server allowing the transport allocator to view the job status as it is progressed.

"The new devices have helped us improve our service delivery to customers and the reliability of communication with our transport fleet," Stanley D'Cress, transport manager for WA, said.

Customer deliveries are recorded with customer signature captured on the CN50. The signature is immediately uploaded and a POD (Proof of Delivery) is automatically generated and forwarded to the customer by e-mail, meaning that customers have optimum visibility of their order whilst drivers are given optimum accountability.

VISA was also particularly pleased with the short implementation timeline of the project pilot and execution of the full implementation. The preparation of the 20 original units only took a day, while all units were deployed over the following two days.

A winning partnership

SkyWire's experience in working with the logistics industry, combined with Intermec's advanced technology, provided VISA with a reliable and cost effective solution with a unit that met the needs of the drivers in both form factor and required technologies, and means VISA Global is well-equipped to engage with future technological innovations as it now has 3G wireless support.

The increased reliability provided by this technology has reduced the time spent updating jobs after they are completed and has conveniently kept hardware support and troubleshooting to an absolute minimum. It is expected that more units will be required as the upgrade continues.

"The new devices have proven to be much more reliable than our older hardware and our driver KPI reports indicate an improved success rate of jobs that have been confirmed using the hand held devices," Garth Harris, director of VISA, said.  

"Our office staff are not having to spend time updating job information from drivers' run sheets and we have accurate and transparent data for billing transport services to our customers."