Logistics App Data: Full Automation vs. Manual Input/Adjustment

by Stepan ChuriukanovNovember 24, 2010
Discover the importance of manual data entry for logistics applications when it comes to distance calculation and shipping locations.

Is automation always better?

Customers often want to get every process and function automated in the application. Many of them are convinced that full automation provides for better performance and helps to avoid mistakes caused by a human factor. The problem is that no matter how sophisticated the system is, unpredictable mistakes and inaccuracies are inevitable. The system cannot be programmed to take all of the circumstances possible into account.

Below, you can find examples when manual data input is essential to a system.


Example #1: Errors in distance calculation

Let’s take a logistics application that tracks the driver’s location using a mobile client with a GPS module. Imagine that a vehicle has to pass a part of the route high in the mountains. When it climbs up the serpentine road, the connection with the satellites may disappear, so the location cannot be detected properly and saved by the mobile client.

No matter how advanced the system is, it can only reveal the latest position stored before the connection disappeared and the position where it appeared again. The mobile client will send this information to the server, and the logistics application will automatically connect these two points with a straight line. The truck’s route will become a much shorter distance than the truck has actually covered. The application will not take into account all the curves and turns of the road that add up to the mileage.

How do you calculate the real distance covered? It is next to impossible to do this automatically.


Example #2: Different shipments with one truck

Suppose now that the truck has to make shipments for two different customers. It picked up the first cargo at point A and has to pick up the second cargo at point B. The connection with the satellites disappears long before the truck reaches point B. If the truck’s coordinates are detected again only when it has almost reached the final destination, the system won’t detect the loading location of the second shipment.

As a result, the application may wind up hundreds of miles, and the customer will have to overpay for this delivery. No algorithm can calculate the exact point where the truck picked up the second shipment. That is why it is crucial that the driver can manually input the position data of the point where he picked up the second shipment.

As you can see now, logistics applications have to provide a room for manual data entry, anyway. This feature enables to avoid the potential conflicts and costly mistakes. For a driver, it is critical to track the major shipping locations, report the actual distance covered, and get paid in full. For a customer, this possibility helps to get the correct data, make sure that the cargo is delivered, and not to overpay.


Further reading

The post was written by Stepan Churiukanov (.NET Developer at Altoros) with assistance from Igor Zubchenok.