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German chancellor’s visit puts DB Schenker-NICTA product in spotlight

Australian-German transport and logistics research links gained a rare airing during chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to these shores.

Merkel took time after the G20 conference to gain a first-hand understanding of a new free mobile app, Pickup and Delivery Assistant (PanDA), being developed jointly by German logistics provider DB Schenker and National ICT Australia (NICTA).

To be released next year, the app aims to accurately track packages in the final leg of delivery while enabling small delivery companies to provide speedy proof of delivery (POD) which triggers payments for work across regional and remote Australia.

Merkel reportedly asked DB Schenker Australia CEO Ron Koehler about the global use of the app and was told that it had great potential in large countries with supply chains fragmented at final delivery or that rely on final transaction sign-off.

The promise is that the PanDA app will cut delays by 75 per cent, allowing merchants better revenue recognition and cashflow. Koehler says delayed reconciliation is a national problem that has grown with the growth in e-commerce and online shopping together with greater client expectations.

“Using GPS technology, we can track deliveries kilometre by kilometre across the country. But that final kilometre, or step, in the delivery process, has been a stumbling block in the full completion of any transaction and delivery,” Koehler says.

“Our mobile app is specifically designed for truck drivers providing low-cost connectivity, via the cloud, to assist them in the pickup, delivery and payment processes. It will allow the driver or transport company to enter travel details, GPS coordinates and vehicle identifiers at any time during the transport process to indicate any delays, which may be caused by traffic conditions, road closures or mechanical breakdowns. On arrival at the destination the driver scans a bar/QR code, including proof-of-delivery signature or printed name. We replace the burden of processing the paper from the truck driver’s home office with our app.  After delivery has been made, we can fast track electronic payment to the driver’s account.”

The company points out that Australia has more than 46,000 transport companies of which 70 per cent are small operators.

“Historically, the end customer is not warned if a delivery will arrive late and due to slow business processes, the product owner and Schenker receive late notification of proof of delivery. As a result the trucking owner receives payment later than necessary,” Koehler says. “Product owners and shippers complain of the difficulty of obtaining good supply chain visibility, particularly in that final delivery leg.”

Koehler notes that product owners devote considerable resources to final-delivery related problems. “Many transport companies and product owners alike have built call-centre infrastructure with staff operating 24/7 to manage customer and supplier queries,” he adds. “The App will make an enormous difference to the efficiencies and cost savings as well giving the end-customers peace of mind that their parcel is about to arrive.”

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