Globally industries have undergone rapid changes from systems and processes in the past, transiting to an ecosystem primarily driven by technology. Every single sector has harnessed the power of technology and it is no surprise that logistics and transportation have witnessed
this dimension of transformation. The technologies that are making headlines are actually most suited for logistics.
Many technologies are a natural fit for logistics and it is this technology stack that has made app development for logistics one of the hottest areas of interest. Here is the lowdown on integrating different technologies for logistics app development.
Desired features in the app
The desired features that you need to incorporate during logistics app development include
- Admin panel
- Monitor window
- Management of fleet
- Tracking of fleet/assets
- Push notifications
- Invoicing options
- Log reports
- Calibration reports
- Scheduled maintenance calendar
- Fuel consumption
- In App chat
- Live tracking
- Vehicle handling characteristics
What will a fleet manager need as a solution?
Ideally, a fleet manager will need a solution that meets the basic needs of the service. A logistics service is no more the typical service seen a decade back.
A service needs to transport consignments from location A to B, in the prescribed time, in a safe manner and during transit it needs to offer fleet managers the option of live tracking of the consignment.
In other words, the process needs to offer updated information on the exact position, giving a clear idea of the ETA of the consignment at destination.
The tracking should also permit the managers and the drivers to divert routes when necessary in order to beat a traffic pile up to reach the destination faster and in the most economical route.
A comprehensive fleet management solution for a fleet needs to be equipped with the following features
- Telematics – GPS System
- Traffic updates for route optimization
- Geo fencing and Fleet management
- Telematics – Asset tracking
- Vehicle handling characteristics
- Fuel calibration
- M2M communication
Telematics – GPS system
This is now a household name that has been made popular largely due to the ride hailing apps and Google Maps that have changed the way we commute.
A GPS System is crucial to the safe operation of a fleet. This will help navigate, track and help fleet managers and drivers to work in tandem to take the consignments to the destination.
In the future, GPS Systems will be made available in vehicles as OEM and nations all over the world are working towards making this a mandatory option.
In India, AIS 140 regulations will make it necessary for public transport systems to have advanced safety features. And part of these features is actually telematics systems/GPS systems.
The advanced safety requirements mandated by governments include applications that make location based announcements, occupancy information, announcements of routes and ticketing applications.
Telematics systems are ideally more lke open ended systems, which can help in the inclusion of applications that are designed and customized to meet specific needs.
The standout benefits of such systems are the advanced embedded solutions that can actually link driverless trucks into a convoy and the same has proven itself in Europe.
Traffic updates for route optimization
Google maps have become indispensable to drivers who can now find their way to any place without stopping to ask for directions or without the need for knowing the local language.
Many third party apps are now available and fleet managers have greatly benefited from the apps, planning routes and consignment deliveries as per optimized routes.
Route information also helps feet managers and drivers to quickly make alternative arrangements during contingencies.
Event driven updates can be triggered to managers regarding movements.
Geo fencing and Fleet management
This is another aspect of GPS systems. A vehicle that is intended for operations on a particular sector or route will find the use of geo fencing greatly beneficial.
For instance a self-drive car agency may want alerts to be shared to managers when a self-driven car crosses a location or head close to a border checkpoint, when it has not been permitted to be driven outside an area.
It would not be possible for a service to hire the requisite number of resources to constantly monitor the progress of a large fleet of self-driven cars in various locations.
The only option will be to use a trigger system to receive alerts when the vehicle crosses a threshold.
Managing fleets requires a complete set of inputs along with requirements to be able to plan the trips accordingly.
For instance, a vehicle may require to be dispatched for another trip, and the routes need to be planned as per the time of arrival, the load carrying capacity of the truck, the run time, the next service time, the engine performance statistics and the availability of the driver.
Fleet managers need t take into consideration all the inputs and match the same with the requirements before assigning routes to a truck and a driver.
A good system should give the manager all the information that he requires in a simple and decluttered interface.
Telematics – asset tracking
This is a lot different from the tracking system of the vehicle itself. Asset tracking involves the tracking of a detachable trailer or a consignment or it could also involve the tracking of the whole truck.
This is again achieved through telematics which involves the use of a GPS system to transmit the location to the system. Asset tracking is mandatory in modern fleets where clients need regular updates about movement and position of their consignments.
Vehicle handling characteristics
The manner in which a vehicle is driven is important to the condition of the vehicle and the consignment it transports. It could also be a passenger carrying vehicle and the manner in which it is handled will count towards the safety the occupants.
A good fleet management system should transmit information about the manner in which a vehicle is controlled.
This will help in preventing unsafe driving practices from resulting in accidents as the same can be used to train the errant drivers and also issue warnings to drivers about safe driving practices.
Calibration of fuel is an important aspect in fleet management and the whole process used to take considerable time. Petrol stations ended up helping feet managers to calibrate their vehicles more out of goodwill.
Large fleets typically fill gas a few select stations and pumps are left with no option other than permitting loyal customers to use the pump for calibration.
A vehicle that is calibrated typically occupies the pump/filling point for a very long period of time and this need to be conducted periodically.
A good fleet management system should take care of the vehicle calibration through the use of technology which will not require the vehicle to be driven to filling station.
Read More: M2M VS IoT: Know the Difference
This will ensure that the vehicle’s productivity does not decline as a result of the time taken for calibration.
Machine to machine communication has now enabled automotive manufacturers to monitor the machine health remotely.
Similarly, fleet managers need to have updated information about the condition of the vehicles, and the time when the vehicles need to be pulled off operations for scheduled maintenance.
This will keep the condition of the vehicles in ship shape while also ensuring that operations are smooth and uninterrupted.
Integrating all the features into apps
This now brings us to the question of integrating all these features into apps. While it may not be technically feasible to incorporate all the features into apps, most of the features can be integrated, while the features that cannot be integrated can be made to work in tandem with the features in the app.
The combination of all the features and the working of the features in tandem with each other give fleet managers comprehensive fleet management solutions.
The map is integrated in the restaurant management mobile application itself and it navigates them to the restaurant.
Popular technology stacks for different on demand applications
There are virtually unlimited options when it comes to choosing the right technology stack for different features. However, popular options preferred by reputed developers include the following:
- For all the Notifications that you need to trigger you could choose either Twilio or Push.io
- When you need to do any authentication of credentials for login, then it would be a good idea to use Nexmo or Twilio
- If you need a payment gateway integrated with the app, then you could consider Braintree & PayPal, Stripe or popular EWallets
- An app will have database requirements, and to fully meet the requirements you could use MongoDB, Hbase, Cassandra or Postgress
- If you need to get your solutions to work on cloud platform, then you could look at AWS, Google, Azure
- For all your real time analytics, try out Hadoop, Spark, BigData, Apache Flink, Cisco, IBM
The million dollar question – How much for the app development?
This will certainly be one of the most important questions that you need to ask yourself. The amount of money that you spend on the app development needs to be carefully thought out.
For instance, if you were to cut too many corners and were to settle for a very cheap app development service that does not fulfill all your requirements, then you can be sure that your investment towards the app is not only a waste, it will affect the operations on a whole.
You need a service that delivers world class quality at an affordable cost. Paying too much is also not a very good idea as this will eat into other infrastructure requirements. The trick is to balance the CapEx and OpEx in such a way so that operations are not affected.
When you have put in considerable investments, time and effort into the development of the logistics company, it is only natural that you ensure that it is the best.
his will not only keep your clients from looking elsewhere, it will also help to bring in more clients and ensure that your operations are conducted smoothly and in the most optimal manner.
The costs towards developing an app need to be considered on various parameters, which has been fully explained in an earlier blog. Click on this link to read all about the cost factors involved and how you can make the right choice as per your needs.
To touch upon this briefly, the costs towards developers differ from location to location and it also depends on the technology stack used for the development of apps.
The integration of various technologies, the amount of testing that is required and the different technical considerations all contribute towards the total costs for developing an app for logistics and transportation.
A ballpark estimate of the total costs towards logistics app development would range from 20,000$ to 30,000$ in India for a reputed development team.
Bear in mind that an app for logistics is a lot different from a simple ride hailing app, and it needs to integrate various technologies and systems for it to work seamlessly.
The app needs to provide all the necessary features described above and it would be a good idea to be an early adopter of technology rather than try to include different features in stages.
Testing is crucial and including features in stages will require regression testing. It is therefore best to launch your service with all the features incorporated.