Everyone knows Fedex. It’s one of the world’s leading logistics service companies, carrying parcels all around the world. In logistics, margins are small and minimizing costs is a critical success factor. Over the past few years a concept known as Just-In-Time inventory management has become increasingly popular. By delivering parts just at the time they are needed for assembly, inventory levels and thus tied capital and costs are reduced. To turn this theoretical concept into a viable business model, tight control of delivery processes is crucial.
To be able to deliver goods undamaged and on time, Fedex developed an integrated system to track all of its parcels across the world. No matter where a parcel is, Fedex employees are able to develop shipping plans, pool multiple items for certain parts of the delivery chain and provide an accrurate delivery date and time to the customer.
From a high-level perspective, the tracking system merely saves relevant data, transforms it and produces it again when needed. The physical identification of an actual parcel is still done manually in many situations. To date, logistics staff are equipped with custom-designed handheld devices, enabling them to identify shipments by scanning the attached barcode and accepting a signature on their screens. Those handhelds, however, cost thousands of dollars and are difficult to manage. Because of custom hardware and software, developing an application to support the process is a challenging task and updating hardware usually means replacing and redistributing the old handhelds.
With the emergence of low-cost smartphones and the popular Android system, Fedex could cost-efficiently develop an app for such phones and provide employees with only one device, instead of two: a phone (which they carry anyhow) and an additional scanning device. Changing hardware does not require the adaption of the application. Furthermore, software updates can be distributed over the air and with no interaction required by the user. Thanks to Scandit’s lightning-fast barcode recognition and its robustness to scan barcodes even under difficult circumstances, mobile phone-based track and trace solutions represent a cost-effective and flexible alternative to dedicated
logistics systems based on dedicated handheld scanners.
Summing up, companies like Fedex can now optimize their physical identification processes by equipping their staff with smartphone-based barcode scanning solutions with a better usability and no or only little drawbacks in terms of barcode scanning performance. The result is drastically simplified handheld device management and up-to-date hard- and software across the entire company.