Looking for a way to optimise the communication along the transportation chain?
The current technology landscape offers many ways to communicate with your business partners (internal and external) – email, phone, Skype, Slack, Whatsapp, Viber etc. Data and documents generated from various systems across the supply chain are transferred via these channels, just to be entered into the next system. The information flow has grown to be a tiresome and error-prone process, requiring lots of effort and time. A start-up from Vienna, Austria is looking for a way to optimise the communication flow along the transport chain.
The email flood
Roman Gutscher of Getreide Gutscher, a family managed grain producing and trading business from Lower Austria just outside Vienna, had just finished negotiations call with some of his partners from Italy and was looking at his phone: 3 missed calls, 5 urgent emails – his warehousing staff had called whether they should wait another hour for a delayed shipment; the forwarding company to ask for details about a new delivery address; his Romanian branch about a customer reference needed for completion of the cargo documents. Just a regular day for him and for Christoph and Gerald, his other two brothers on the management team. Up-to-date information is essential part of the trading business. And transferring it along the supply chain takes significant effort.
The Gutschers were trying to find a way to reduce this effort and use the time instead to focus on their clients.
In early 2017 the Gutschers were sitting with their long-time friends – Markus and Gerhard Gruber, owners of the IT company Documatrix. Among other topics they discussed the flood of calls, emails and documents they face with each shipment they have to do, and there are 5.000+ full truck loads to deal with each year. The Grubers have their company’s focus on process automation and document creation.
The idea of digital solution to support the transport communication was quickly drawn. There was mutual consent on pursuing the realisation of this solution, but scaling it to fit the general needs of other supply chains too.
Sophy Mobile was born as a project.
June 2017 brought another favourable kick to the plans: the EU virtually removed roaming fees, making mobile data transfer within the European Union more accessible. As time passed by in 2017, the realisation of the mutual project came to a short halt as all team members had to deal with the workload within their companies. The decision to look for full time team members was taken at the beginning of 2018. Sophy was looking for a full-time team member, to assume the lead of the project and bring it to the market.
Alexander Iwanov was overlooking the spares supply of a major European airline, designing and implementing the transport concepts. A smooth communication flow was essential for a business where information on the whereabouts and status of a shipment is sometimes more valuable than the shipment itself. Alexander had made detailed communication instructions for a team of 40+ people engaged in the 24/7 tracking and information distribution for more than 90.000 shipment a year, sending on average 30 emails per shipment. A task, that could and should be automated.
First contacts were made in February 2018 and it did not take much time to settle on a common vision how to solve the problem of information distribution. A few meetings later Alexander was onboard Sophy’s team as its CEO.
The simple solution
The idea behind Sophy Mobile is simple: automate all monotonous communication tasks. Create a single communication channel, reduce/eliminate manual data transfer. It is a holistic approach to connect as many existing systems as possible across the supply chain.
The goal is to reduce the time spent for simple information transfer such as status updates, and enable the participants in a transport to focus on exception handling and to give enough attention on their business relations.
How does Sophy Mobile work: a shipment (from/to, size, commodity, carrier) is entered into the web-application. The vehicle driver receives the shipment details on the mobile-app on a smartphone. The position of the vehicle and status of the shipment is then available to all participants of the transport on the web-app. Sophy Mobile can be integrated into existing ERP systems, eliminating multiple data entry and automatically updating these systems.
The use case
Take for example the task of updating all parties involved in a transport about a simple status change (e.g. shipment is loaded in good condition):
· The driver and ramp worker shake hands about the loaded shipment.
· The driver calls his dispatcher that everything is OK.
· The dispatcher sends email to the forwarding company.
· The forwarding agent calls his client to confirm the loading.
· The client emails the consignee that shipment is underway.
With a good structured communication process, it would take about 15minutes total to make the calls and send the emails. Not counting the time for entry into each partner’s ERP system. Information that could be spread automatically within seconds using Sophy Mobile. And there are few other shipment updates to be done.
The future of transport communication
Sophy Mobile’s team is determined to revolutionise the way people exchange information in transport logistics.
A lot has been accomplished and still a lot more lays ahead of the founders’ team.
During the summer of 2018 the team of Sophy Mobile spent time on structuring the functionalities, documenting over 220 user stories to be implemented in the future Sophy Mobile product. A professional product and UX design were created and implemented. The development of an MVP was ready in late 2018 and the first field test were successfully performed in December 2018, gathering valuable market feedback.
Since then the team is working 24/7 on the development of the product and preparing for its launch, planned for the “transport logistics 2019” Munich fair in June 2019.
First external recognition for Sophy Mobile came from the Vienna Business Agency. Sophy Mobile is to receive a support funding as part of its Innovative Products and Services funding programme.
SOPHY – Simplify Transport Communication