The Customer is an IT consulting company that specializes in business processes automation for the mining industry. Their products are used by 80% of all Australian mining companies. One of the distinct advantages of the customer’s products is software as a service approach, in which clients purchase a license for the software and access it via a web interface. This approach minimizes upfront costs and simplifies deployment and support.
Australia’s governmental regulations of the mining industry are forcing companies to comply with local labor protection, safety and accident prevention regulations.
As an example of such compliance, each driver/operator that works in a quarry or a mine had to fill out specific equipment inspection and availability checklists before the start of each working shift. Originally, this was a routine paperwork with a whole list of disadvantages:
- The process was time-consuming (long list of items to check and fill in by hand).
- High human factor risks (employees could make errors, fill out a wrong form, omit information, etc.).
- High equipment downtime (took time for the supervisor to receive information about a piece of equipment being out of order and send a repairman to fix the issue).
- No real-time knowledge of equipment availability.
Thus, the challenge was to build a product that would simplify the process of filling out checklists, provide visual dashboard to monitor and control fleet and other equipment availability, automate and speed up out-of-order and maintenance notifications, comply with local regulations and improve drivers’ performance and equipment availability, which in its turn will ultimately increase ROI of the customer’s clients.
Nowadays, there are many ready-to-use fleet maintenance software solutions available on the market, but none of them could fit the unique requirements of our customer. First, they did not feature automatic customizable checklists creation based on user and equipment type. In addition, no solution provided suitable notification and reporting system that complied with the customer’s local labor regulations. The customer finally decided to outsource the design and development of its new solution to ScienceSoft because of our wide experience with .NET solutions development and Microsoft Azure platforms, as well as profound knowledge of the fleet management industry.
Since truck drivers and equipment operators owned different types of mobile devices, iOS, Android and Windows Phone application versions had to be created. It was decided to use Xamarin hybrid development platform. This helped to save project budget and ensured identical user experience for any mobile device. Since employees and their supervisors are often provided with corporate tablet computers, the interface had to be suitable for these types of devices as well.
Together with the customer’s technical team, ScienceSoft’s specialists established the solution’s rich functionality requirements, designed complex data structures and developed advanced business logic. User-friendly interfaces for mobile applications and web dashboard were developed.
After the design phase was completed, ScienceSoft’s team implemented both mobile and server-side back- end applications. The mobile application allowed each employee to specify a vehicle or other type of equipment that is currently available for use during the shift. The application then had to display questions applicable to that specific equipment chosen. The web interface, in its turn, featured live fleet and equipment availability dashboard, a map showing current geolocations of all the drivers and equipment operators, instant incoming maintenance and out-of-order alerts, convenient access to historical events, reports creation, ability to email reports in PDF or excel format and other useful administrative functionality. The server-side ASP.NET MVC application was implemented to be run in Microsoft Azure Cloud infrastructure.
The quality assurance process was then completed, including thorough testing and bug-fixing. ScienceSoft‘s team also helped the customer with deployment of the product and publishing of each mobile application to appropriate app store.
The new product was successfully introduced to the market. It could now be used to effectively manage a company’s fleet and other valuable equipment, reduce downtime, lower human factor risks and help effectively comply with local labor and safety regulations.
The following innovative features were implemented:
- Identical and intuitive user interface for each mobile platform (Android, iOS, Windows Mobile).
- Custom functionality for each employee type: owner, supervisor and field worker.
- Real-time visual dashboard to monitor and control fleet and other equipment.
- Automatic checklists and questionnaires for each equipment type.
- Reports generation and forwarding to appropriate staff.
- Immediate push notifications for critical events such as out-of-order equipment.
- Automatic maintenance remainders and reports of its completion.
- Ability for field workers to immediately inform management about equipment faults with an option to send photo or video attachments.
The product quickly gained popularity with the customer’s existing clients and brought in a lot of new business to the company. ScienceSoft’s team was selected to provide third level technical support.
Technologies and Tools
Microsoft Azure, .NET, ASP.NET MVC, Microsoft SQL Server, Xamarin, iOS, Android.