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Express Delivery - Telecom upgrades help Blue Dart to track operations

February 15, 2009
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The Indian logistics industry, expected to grow at an annual rate of 15 to 20 per cent, is projected to garner revenues of $385 billion by 2015. The Indian logistics market is expected to be worth $125 billion by 2010, increasing from approximately $100 billion in 2007.

With an eye on tapping the opportunities that such growth offers, courier services major Blue Dart has added to its existing communications infrastructure.By scaling up its telecom set-up, the company hopes to grow its market share, as well as ensure high customer service standards and maintain business continuity.

tele.net tracks the development of its communications infrastructure...

Background

Blue Dart is a courier and integrated express package distribution company. It has an extensive domestic network covering over 21,100 locations, providing services in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide through its sales alliance with DHL, a leading global brand in express distribution services.

Legacy system

Since its inception in 1983, Blue Dart has invested heavily in its communications setup. In the early days, the courier major used computers for its sales analysis, financial accounting and management functions. Then, Federal Express's tracking system, COSMOS (Customer Operations Service Master On-line System), was introduced in India, enabling Blue Dart to track international shipments. The company also indigenously developed its domestic tracking system, COSMAT-I (Computerised On-line System for Management, Accounting and Tracking-I). The system was first implemented in Mumbai and Delhi, and was subsequently implemented in Bangalore and Chennai. Data transfer between these locations was initially done using floppy diskettes and later through dial-up lines. A batch processing system, it involved data entry at the end of each day.It helped Blue Dart produce management information system (MIS) reports that could aid in locating errors in misrouted and lost packages. While COSMAT-I allowed tracking of shipments within India, a Blue Dart computer at a regional office could log on to COSMOS to find out the status of a package booked to/from an international destination.

However, two serious flaws remained.First, there was no integration of data and information on one common platform.Therefore, data entry and processing at each centre took several hours. Second, although COSMAT-I was an improvement over the manual system, Blue Dart could not provide quick and accurate details of shipments in response to customer queries.The company thus realised that the need of the hour was to expand its information technology and information systems infrastructure to cater to its growing business needs.

The shift

Blue Dart recognised the need for a robust and flexible communications network, which would facilitate information management and provide decision support tools. The idea was to provide a 360degree solutions package to the customer, and give Blue Dart a platform to offer an innovative range of services.

Thus, the company upgraded its tracking system and indigenously developed COSMAT-II, a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. COSMAT-II was constructed in four major modules to cover all the processes in the organisation.To set up this application, various media were used (leased lines, VSAT, microwave links) on the company's wide area network for effective data transfer between all locations. COSMAT-II enables easy access to the database over a wide area network, and ensures reliable information and feedback even to and from areas afflicted by poor telecom services.

The company extensively employs wireless, mobile telephones, radio sets and pagers to enhance communication speed and connectivity with people on the field.Its customer service cell is equipped with an automated call distribution system to provide quick response and support to customers. Blue Dart also has a range of webbased tools. For example, its TrackDart enables tracking shipments by using the TrackDart box, which is available on the upper left panel of every page on the company's website. MailDart emails sent to track@bluedart.com with the waybill number receive an automated response providing the status of a customer's shipment. For more advanced users, InternetDart allows filtered views of tracking data for all packages dispatched over the past 45 days.PackTrack (the applications program interface) is designed for clients involved in logistics, distribution and inventory control. ShopTrack is designed specifically to support and enhance the services provided by a portal or an e-business. The customer needs to enter the order number of a purchase, and the shipping and delivery details are displayed on the same page.

Finally, the company has deployed mobile handset-based solutions. For example, the MobileDart application simplifies shipment tracking from anywhere across the country by sending an SMS to 6767.

Benefits and challenges

As the company already had a firm foundation, it did not face any major challenge in building upon it. Timely intervention in upgrading its communications infrastructure using the right technologies has enabled it to address the business needs of its customers, maximise business potential, and streamline the flow of data and information. As a result, the company is now enjoying the advantages of a robust, flexible and cost-effective platform.



 
 
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