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Cassens Transport Case Study
October 17, 2014
Cassens Transport Company, founded in 1936, originally transported vehicles from Detroit to St. Louis. Since its founding, it has expanded its operations to include hauling vehicles for companies such as American Motors, Hyundai, Muncie, and Mitsubishi and Chrysler. When faced with the challenge of transferring their logistics data into a completely electronic format, they worked with SDG System’s engineering services to design and implement a solution.
SDG Systems is a technology solution provider that specializes in Linux and Android platforms. When Cassens Transport transitioned from a paper-based to an electronic logistics system, SDG helped them design a barcode scanning sled and software solution that would meet their requirements. Additionally, SDG enhanced their existing Android barcode scanning software to create Enterprise Platform Extensions for Barcode Scanning, also called EPX-B™, as a key component of the new system. The software allows barcode scanning capabilities to be integrated with Android. EPX-B provides customizable settings that are controlled by the application or user, making Cassens’ delivery and inspection processes more efficient as well as more accurate. By using Amazon Web Services (AWS), all of Cassens’ data is stored in the cloud, making it easy to access and less likely to lose data in the event of a system failure. The creation of the barcode sled and software saved Cassens time and money, and the final result was greater efficiency.
Improve logistics management. Replace the current paper-based delivery system with an electronic one for greater efficiency.
Design a rugged sled with barcode scanning. Increase durability of the tablet by encasing it in a sled with a built-in barcode scanner that captures difficult-to-read Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs).
Customize barcode system. Create a user-friendly barcode system that is easily controlled.
SDG Systems engineering services. SDG collaborated with Cassens Transport, Apollo Electronics, DyOcean, and Motorola Solutions to create a customized, high-performance barcode scanning sled that met Cassens’ requirements.
EPX-B software. SDG designed the EPX-B libraries to be used by Cassens’ electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD) application, AutoTran.
AutoTran. As part of the ePOD system, SDG ported and enhanced Cassen’s AutoTran application from Linux to Android. Additionally, SDG implemented a portion of the database functionality to provide a cloud-based system that utilized cellular technology and Amazon-hosted services.
More efficient logistics tracking Faster and more accurate processing of logistics documentation.
User-friendly software EPX-B runs on Android, a platform known for its intuitive user interface.
A cost-efficient solution By using a sled rather than a rugged tablet, Cassens was able to save more than 30% on its per-unit cost.
A major competitor in the automotive transport industry, Cassens Auto Transport relies on a logistics system in which delivery receipts are transferred from paper to an online database, a process that usually takes two weeks. After meeting with its customers, Cassens decided to look into a completely electronically-based logistics system in order to speed up processing time. To accomplish this, Cassens needed to find a device in which drivers could easily record delivery information and damages.
Cassens began to search for a tablet that would meet the requirements of its customers; it had to feature a rugged design, able to withstand suboptimal conditions. The screen needed to be scratch-resistant and easily read outside. Other requirements included a built-in camera, barcode scanning, GPS tracking, signature capture, and an Android or Linux platform.
After testing a variety of devices, Cassens chose the Nexus 2013 tablet. Though it was powerful and an ideal size, it was not rugged enough to be used by their drivers on a daily basis.
Undeterred, Cassens collaborated primarily with Apollo Electronics and SDG Systems to design a sled that would increase the tablet’s durability.
The sled, in addition to its rugged design, also features a built-in barcode scanner, eliminating the need for a separate scanning device. Apollo Electronics led the physical design of the sled, and SDG Systems designed the software.
The Enterprise Platform eXtensions (EPX) framework is a standard, modular software solution for Android that interfaces with advanced, enterprise hardware, such as RFID or barcode scanners. The EPX-B’s main feature, setting it apart from other platforms, is its modular design, allowing a consistent user experience and programming interface regardless of the underlying barcode scanning technology. Another key feature is that it allows users and developers to fully control the scanner. For example, if the user selects a specific type of barcode that he/she wants the software to read, the software won’t acknowledge any other type of barcode. Depending on the user’s preference, keyboard wedge mode and USB native interface can either be turned on or disabled.
SDG integrated the Symbol Native Application Programming Interface (SNAPI) for the EPX-B framework in order to enable barcode scanning capabilities in the tablet. Rather than requiring a separate barcode scanner to read the VINs, the tablet, integrated with the sled and EPX-B software, reads the barcodes.
In addition to customizable settings, sample source code is available for the licensee to modify or update. Developer tools, which support Eclipse and Android Studio, are included in the software, and the licensee may freely distribute these tools.
The scanner itself is easy to operate, both for drivers who don’t have much background using technology and for more experienced users. To operate the barcode scanner on Cassens’ logistics application, AutoTran, the driver simply presses a button on the side of the barcode scanning sled, illuminating the barcode with a laser crosshair. The barcode will automatically register and be recorded into Cassens’ database.
SDG Systems helped Cassens in their transition from a paper-based to an electronically-based tracking system. With the EPX-B software, barcode scanning is a simple, customized process that saves time during inspections. Scanning a barcode is far less susceptible to error than manual entry, and the camera-like interface allows drivers to scan barcodes easily. By opting to design a sled rather than buying rugged tablets, Cassens was able to save over 30% of the cost per unit.
Other companies will soon be able to make use of this technology when the Diamondback™ scanning sled is released on the market later this year. The EPX-B software, with its barcode-scanning capabilities, is included with the sled. It is a cost-effective, user-friendly solution to industries that require fast, accurate barcode scanning.