Courier strengthens mobile network

Snapx, one of Australia’s largest couriers, has implemented a scalable GPRS delivery tracking mechanism that integrates with the company’s enterprise resource planning system.

Terry Mosse-Robinson, CEO of Snapx, said the company’s previous system for communicating with its drivers was SMS, which was rolled out around three years ago.

“We needed to look at an alternative to using SMS with mobile phones,” Mosse-Robinson said. “SMS relies heavily on the availability of a local tower and is very expensive. GPRS, however, is an always-on national network which is a lot cheaper.”

Snapx has rolled out IRIS – a mobile workforce application from Cortex – to 250 Symbol PDAs across four states.

“This [courier] industry’s biggest issue is getting information to the field staff efficiently,” Mosse-Robinson said. “With mobile communications the driver doesn’t need to return to the vehicle to get work [orders].”

Darren Ray, Snapx’s national operations manager, said this is a real-time solution and instantly updates the company’s Web site.

“Information from the call centre and Web site – which constitutes 40 per cent of our orders – is then assigned to the drivers,” Ray said. “The software on the device then shows the jobs. This method enables call centre, dispatch and operations people to be centralised in one place.”

Peter Moore, CEO of Cortex eBusiness, said the system is secure and integrates well.

“Snapx is using Optus’ wireless VPN which is a secure network because authentication is done with the SIM card,” Moore said. “Only authorised SIM cards can talk to the Snapx server so the network is totally locked down. IRIS supports server-side J2EE and therefore integrates with Snapx’s ERP system.”

Snapx’s server applications are running on SCO Unix, which Mosse-Robinson described as a “legacy” system and the company intends to migrate over to Windows.

At this stage Snapx does not have an ROI figure for the project; however, the company has noticed measurable productivity gains. “Our service has increased by about 7 per cent,” Ray said. “This can translate into as many as 300 extra jobs per day in Sydney alone. Also, our clients appreciate the good and correct service.”

Snapx now has plans to enhance the system with GPS.

“We try to be at the forefront of technology and can see a time when the device uses GPS to allow tracking of two-wheeled vehicles,” Mosse-Robinson said. “Also, we want to have e-mail communication available to the drivers.”

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