ERP System for a Logistics Company
GC «Alt Auto» is the largest transportation company of the Altai region.
Its fleet has more than 700 vehicles. The company has several work areas: long trips to CIS and Russian cities; freight transportation across distributors; transportation of ore and other materials from minings.
The demand for automation appeared when Alt Auto’s tasks for logistics specialists became too complicated, and there was too much work. Each specialist had to manage more than 100 vehicles. Moreover, each area has specific aspects: difference in rolling stocks, trips scheduling and calculations of driver’s salaries.
Out-of-the-box solutions didn’t really suit Alt Auto’s purposes. They couldn’t automate all the work areas in a single system, each would require a separate configuration and database. Furthermore, the existing solutions contained unnecessary tools for logistics accounting. Those tools only overloaded the interface. So, the company decided to develop an original ERP system. The development started in 2017.
The whole enormous project was implemented by a single developer — the Alt Auto’s programmer Nikita Ledenev. He has more than 17 years development experience. He started with Delphi and С++. About 5 years ago Nikita switched to Java. While creating an ERP system, he decided to use tools for development automation.
«We considered various tools. One of the options was Oracle BI, but it was too expensive. Another one was Play Framework, which didn’t suit our purposes as it represents an application basic structure without a standard set of features and components. CUBA Platform (now Jmix) turned out to be the best possible tool. As I see it, it’s something in between RAD and a high-level framework. It’s not a “self-locked” thing or an environment with some rules that are hard or impossible to come out of. Technically, with CUBA (now Jmix) you can implement anything that is possible in Java. At the same time, the framework has tools for rapid development of business applications and solutions for standard tasks, for example, creating entities and forms, which helps to concentrate on the app logic. The CUBA (now Jmix) documentation is detailed and clear, and it is publicly available, so I assimilated rather quickly, though before the project Java was my secondary language,» says Nikita Ledenev.
The ERP system development began with automation of distribution trips planning. In September 2017, only four months after the development started, the solution went to production.
CUBA (now Jmix) became the basis for algorithms minimizing the manual actions that logisticians had to perform before. For work planning, the specialists use an installed “Alt Auto” touch-screen terminal, where the drivers register when they are ready for the trip. The system automatically chooses the trip and sends a message with all the necessary information to the driver. Requests from the largest Russian distributors are loaded to the ERP system via Rest API.
Ore transportation from minings became automated. Earlier logisticians had to calculate the number of trips and vehicles required within agreement conditions on their own. Thanks to the ERP system, they perform minimum manual actions now. Logisticians can just add the corresponding agreement and route to the route sheet, and everything will be calculated automatically. After that the specialists only need to choose from the list of suitable and ready for work vehicles, offered by the system.
The ERP system automated 80% of processes for trips planning, route sheets arrangement and payroll jobs.
This helped logisticians to meet the deadlines. Furthermore, some employees could switch to the job that the company had no resources for. One more important thing is that the manual calculations are now minimized. “Alt Auto” staff mostly check the information within the system. As a result, the number of mistakes caused by the human factor and load on the staff significantly decreased.
What is more, the fuel burn rate greatly decreased, too: compared to 42 litres per 100 kilometres, now it is only 33.
VoIP turned out to be cheaper than the conference call services, which helped to save about $400 per month.
In the near future the company plans to launch an Android application for drivers. With this application drivers will be able to register for the trip, track the route on the map, request for the vehicle support manning and receive informational messages from the company. To develop the application the company will use open-source technologies. Element.io (formerly known as Riot) - a messenger distributed on free terms - was taken as a basis. It will be modified for “Alt Auto” tasks. CUBA Platform (now Jmix) will be used to integrate the Android application and the ERP system.