Wireless & Mobile enablement
How Elbee tracks consignments
Elbee Express was under pressure to deploy a solution that
would satisfy enterprise and individual customers by giving them the ability
to track their consignments in real-time. The complications increased in managing
different priorities of different customers from various segments for their
To manage thousands of documents and parcels deliveries across
more than 11,600 locations in India is a Herculean task. This vast chain has
to run like a well-oiled piece of machinery for which pinpoint-tracking of goods,
parcels and documents has to be a given. To satisfy this need and automate various
business processes being followed, Shirish Gariba, Vice-President, Information
Technology, Elbee Express, deployed a Web portal named eTABS.
The primary need was for a dedicated data centrededicated
because the system had to be accessible every single day including national
and bank holidaysto host applications and the consignment database. The
solution was to outsource the data centre infrastructure to Mumbai-based NetMagic
Solutions. Elbees servers and solutions hosted at NetMagic are deployed
on the Windows server platform. Branch offices are connected to the datacentre
in Mumbai using dial-up and broadband links.
- Deliverymen carry handheld scanners which
are connected via GPRS. The technology is being piloted.
- Plans to migrate to wireless Web-based
applications to update details in near real-time.
- Some hiccups have been encounteredthe
devices needed are too expensive (in the range of Rs 50,000 to 70,000),
capturing detailed information on the field is difficult, and the time
taken for updating the information is about five to six hours which
should ideally be near real-time.
- A switchover from SQL Server to Oracle
is on the cards once the wireless Web-based applications are completely
Once the IT backbone was in place, the company launched the eTABS portal. The
consignment reference numbers are used to track parcels online. The same portal
interface is used by various Elbee branch offices to track the consignment before
an aircraft lands. This means that branch offices can be alerted about loads
before they arrive and get in advance shipment details such as weight, destination,
delivery and exceptions.
After deploying the requisite IT infrastructure and eTABS, Elbee took things
a step ahead by launching consignment tracking through SMS. An SMS interface
is available at the eTABS portal; by messaging 7575, a service operated by the
Essel group, customers can generate customised reports which contains the tracking
information. The updates are transmitted to the clients server after midnight
at a time when network traffic is low.
The company is availing of dedicated hosting at NetMagic with remote server,
network, database monitoring and management. The 24x7 NOC is also handled by
NetMagic. IBM Tivoli is used for management and monitoring resources.
Cisco 6509 series switches and Juniper M5 routers populate the network that
is strung together using Lucent Cat 5 structured cabling. The x-way Xeon-based
servers are from Dell and IBM. Data back-up is done using EMC Legato solutions.
The biggest challenge was to ensure that enterprises opting
for periodic updates and customised report generation would not suffer security
breaches by doing so. Because Elbees clients included major banks and
financial institutions, security considerations were paramount. The other
major challenge was to balance the technological innovations with business needs.
It was also a challenge to introduce innovations without hampering existing
business processes, says Gariba.