3 Challenges (and Solutions) for Web-based programs in the Logistics Industry

As more and more of everyday life is offloaded from local processing onto web-linked apps and programs, computing technology has faced some specific challenges. Sure it is simple enough for a program to handle a login, check an entered a username and password against a database of registered users, but add online functionality and suddenly now web services need to be consulted, connections checked, and e-mail registration offered. These challenges can also be further compounded when taking specific businesses into account, as individual logic and pre-existing processes might need to be met. Below are three additional challenges that the web has introduced to the Logistics industry, and possible solutions.

1. Local Hardware

While a web based program has many advantages when it comes to hardware, as covered in an earlier post, it also has its drawbacks. Many devices, like printers and ruggedized warehouse handhelds, are crucial to a Logistics businesses day-to-day operation but have not seen the same explosion of innovation and web-based adoption that computers and cell phones have. Many printers, even if wireless, are locked behind firewalls and all the App store access in the world will not help a Windows mobile based handheld.

A solution to this problem is to have a separate downloadable desktop program to assist, and provide information to web based programs, allowing the latter to handle delivery. This allows each to maximize their individual strengths and mitigate weaknesses. A website can access a local printer from any location, and the local program that allows this can be updated and downloaded online.

2. Existing Email Integration

During a signup procedure, many services ask the user to provide an e-mail address to complete the process. This e-mail is used as an easy way to assign the user a unique identity, and provide an initial point of contact. However an ineffective website, after the initial ‘welcome’ e-mail, will do nothing further with the address. The average user relies heavily on their e-mails for a wide variety of contexts, and logging into a service to check on something might be an unwanted extra step.

To resolve this problem, lots of websites have implemented the ability to add e-mail notifications for events or updates, and the same can work for the Logistics structure. Adding a scheduled report, customized to arrive for certain users, at certain times, can add immeasurable value and increase the importance of a service, even if less time is spent on the actual webpage.

3. Support and Connectivity

Modern websites need to be tested extremely thoroughly for compatibility, as there are a staggering amount of combinations of operating systems and browsers. Unfortunately this also means that issues will arise that are specific to a certain user or that are ephemeral in nature. For Logistics this might be an extra challenge when taking remote warehouse locations or the specialized requirements of a program into account.

There is no one answer to this issue, but some steps can be made to limit the impact. A dedicated process for reporting and repairing bugs should be in place, along with the ability to make adjustments or corrections on the fly. To accommodate remote locations that might not have full connectivity, a buffering system to store information might be considered, something that could work with local hardware (as seen in point one).

Clearly these are just a few of the issues that could arise when integrating a program, not just with the web, but with Logistics businesses. TQS Technologies has been working hard to address issues like these, and many of the solutions listed above have already been implemented into the FUSION 2 warehouse system.

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