Carrier Networks - Automated Document Handling

Carrier Networks was formed as an alliance of small parcel carriers to service part of the holiday brochure distribution business. Its target was to deliver over a million holiday brochures to travel agents a year. The company had twenty regional depots, each capable of taking deliveries from a main distribution centre. From the regional depots the brochures would need to be sorted by route and batched onto small vans for local delivery.

Project Requirements
Carrier Networks needed a means by which they could easily manage and plan the delivery of over a million brochures a year. This system would need to give as much notice of sizes of delivery per route as possible.

All depots would need a system, each system would need to be very robust, easily supported and simple to use. Due to the remote locations of some depots dial up modems would be the only method available to provide network communications. Finally Carrier Networks wanted a low cost completely managed solution with no upfront investment costs.

The Solution
Layer3 designed a system that could take a delivery note feed from the main distribution warehouse and split this per region then order by postcode into routes. We designed a Java based front end that was almost fully automatic for day to day work. The system ran on Linux for stability and we provided a 24x7 help and support facility. We produced summary reports to enable each carrier to track work carried out and invoice summaries for the company as a whole. A dedicated and secure website was built to provide the back end operation that could handle input from the main warehouse in a number of optional formats to match whichever system they were using to generate delivery notes.

Benefits
• Performance allowed earlier planning of routes and driver utilisation saving £180,000 per year.
• Zero start up cost to the user, flat rate per delivered pack charge
• Immediate swap out support for hardware failures
• Spare systems can be moved to any location, no customisation required
• No software licence costs, Red Hat Linux and Open Source software used throughout
• Efficient system giving 2 days notice of shipping movements, allowing just in time planning and sizing of deliveries