Logistics Control Web App
Our client was a leading UK logistics company, with a delivery network the spanned the entire country. We were tasked with providing them with a Business Intelligence dashboard that would facilitating decision making by the managers at the service centres (SVCs) from where deliveries originate. The client required that the solution should present up-to-date data about planned delivery tours, but most interestingly they also required it to be able to write-back changes to this data in the database, facilitating SVC managers in making dynamic changes to the days planned delivery tours.
The client was storing their data in an on-premises Terradata database system, and one of our first tasks was to prepare this data. The client already had a prototype reporting system built around an excel spreadsheet, and reverse engineering this to discover where relevant data was brought-in from and how certain columns were calculated formed part of the early stages of the project. It was decided that although the sources for this original reporting solution would be helpful for our project, the calculations that were done with them would put too much strain on processing resources if replicated in our system, as well as not providing the desired degree of accuracy.
Our approach to this would clearly need to incorporate the existing platforms as well as provide functionality not usually seen in Tableau dashboards. To this end we researched the most appropriate programs, languages and platforms to integrate into our solution. Given the client’s needs, we decided that a web app would be most appropriate form for this project to take. To this end we have used the Django web framework as the basis of this app. Django was selected in part due to its capacity for communication with a database via the back-end, allowing for data to be changed, and for the changes to be reflected in the front end.
The product we developed ended up splitting the visual and interactive elements between four pages:
Updates – keeps a log of all parcel transfers between tours sent through the app
Rules - Allows individual service centres to create time-saving rules, enabling the app to automatically move parcels between tours when the data is loaded according to pre-specified criteria.
Overview – provides KPI indicators and a high-level overview table of tours and a parcel-allocation table allowing for the moving of parcel groups between tours
Tour Throughput – contains a table listing tours by driver type that allows the target number of stops to be adjusted
Our solution provided the client with much more insight, much more quickly from their data, and provided a template for standardising data collection and reporting across the over 50 different service centres. As well as improved reporting and new tools for the assessment and adjustment of planned tours, our product included an easy print/export option for each page in a variety of formats. This gave it the versatility be of use from the boardroom to the warehouse floor, whether being used as part of a presentation or for printing last minute changes to be handed to drivers directly.