Despite the predictability of internal processes in logistics companies and cargo delivery companies, there are no ready-made solutions that can fully satisfy the requirements of their owners and the needs of their employees. Indeed, the existing apps on the market often either do not fully cover the workflows of such companies, or are quite complex, which complicates the work of their employees.
This factor was the main reason why a trucking company operating in the United States contacted our Research & Development company, needing a custom digital service that provides up-to-date information about gas stations along the way of drivers and, in particular, fuel prices. It was supposed that thanks to this service, the client will be able to reduce cost of fuel for trucks.
Who Is Our Client?
Our client is a successful transportation company from the USA with experienced drivers and well-established workflows. Although the company regularly expands its staff, at some point it became necessary to automate some tasks to save costs. In particular, the company decided to visualize the route of its drivers through a custom digital product and provide them with the opportunity to plan it in such a way as to refuel the tank where fuel is cheapest.
All data and names are fictitious, because we signed an NDA with the client.
What Was The Challenge?
As the number of drivers increased, the client's company was faced with the need to optimize the costs associated with truck fuel. In particular, the company's drivers, moving along a previously built route, chose the gas stations they met, not focusing on the fuel price and its supply in the tank. In some cases, it would be better to get to other more remote stations with more loyal prices. This factor could be optimized by a solution that would prompt drivers where and at what cost they can fill up the tank in real time. That is why the client decided to contact us to create such a service, since there are no analogs on the market yet.
When we started working on the project:
- The first challenge we faced was the problem of finding ready-made solutions that would view the location of gas stations with current fuel prices. The fact is that the vast majority of them were not adapted for public use, did not have well-developed APIs, or asked the end users to fulfill some specific requirements, which ultimately made them unsuitable for choosing as the basis of our custom solution. After a long search, we settled on the Barchart system as an optimal integration third-party service. Integration with two other services, Samsara and Road Star, was also implemented. They provide an opportunity to obtain the current coordinates of the driver and information about the truck.
- Another problem that we had to overcome was the urgency of implementing this project while meeting all the wishes, needs, and budget of the client. Given the fact that we had to spend a lot of time searching for the optimal name for the product and its logo, as well as conducting numerous brainstorms associated with choosing the most effective integration solutions, the release date risked being delayed. Therefore, we decided that the most priority task for our client and for us was the launch of MVP. In the future, we agreed on the refinement of this minimum viable product by enriching it with a number of new features that will turn it into a full-fledged system.
What Technologies Were Used in The Development Process?
Even though the solution we created had no special requirements for workloads, we still had to carefully choose the technology stack so that in the future we would not experience any difficulties in scaling it to a app with new functionality and possibly a much larger number of users.
After compiling an accurate list of technical and non-technical requirements for a future solution, our experts have chosen PHP 8.0, Laravel, and PostgreSQL for its backend, as well as Ant Design, TypeScript, React.js, Next.js, and GraphQL for its frontend.
What Approach to Work Did We Use?
When we started our product development process, we chose the Agile and Scrum approaches. Together with the establishment of regular and effective communication with the client, all this allowed us to quickly adapt to their feedback and, if necessary, change the direction of our project with minimal time losses.
The work on this application help driver project was accompanied by frequent brainstorms due to its kind of innovativeness. Since there are no analogs to this custom product on the market yet, we had to think over in detail step by step so that the development process would not drag on for many years (the client needed to put the solution into work as soon as possible).
Another key feature of the project was a large number of integrations with third-party solutions that were often poorly adapted for this. Therefore, we sometimes had to look for non-standard ways to synchronize the project with the data generated by these third-party solutions.
What We Ended Up Developing?
When we started working on the project, it was quite a big challenge for us. In particular, although this is not our first logistics app, this one was aimed primarily not at automating business processes, but at reducing costs. At the same time, as we have already noted above, we had to implement a number of difficult integrations that slowed down the work on the project.
Nevertheless, we coped with the task within the timeframe specified by the client, transferring their in-company processes to the current MVP. The application is already actively used by the company's drivers, helping them find fuel stations on their way with minimal fuel prices and calculating the current amount of fuel in the tank so they understand how many miles they have left.
Difficulties That We Overcome
Due to the time constraints and difficulties that appear when integrating this web application for dispatchers with third-party solutions, our workflow has not been problem-free. However, we overcame these challenges by launching the MVP within the timeframe specified by the client.
Results of Our Project
To date, the result of our work is an MVP endowed with functionality to optimize the costs associated with the purchase of fuel for trucks on the way of drivers who work in the client's company.
However, in the future we are going to refine the created solution and supplement it with new features. In particular, we discussed the possibility of adding the functions of displaying drivers in real time, exchanging routes between the mobile application and the admin panel, accessing the service for other companies and drivers, as well as creating a full-fledged fuel cost optimization app based on this solution.