"We have been using technology by Sybase and iAnywhere for eight years, and our experiences are very good. It made a lot of sense to continue using proven technology."
Brink's created a reliable mobile application for the processing of international shipping orders powered by SQL Anywhere. The system is running in 28 computer centers on four continents. Business Advantage Key Benefits Sybase Technology Industry
Brink's created a reliable mobile application for the processing of international shipping orders powered by SQL Anywhere. The system is running in 28 computer centers on four continents.
Since its establishment in Chicago in 1859, Brink's Incorporated, a corporate group with worldwide reach, has been one of the leading contacts for business clients when it comes to security. The world’s oldest and largest security transportation company has since then been offering a number of risk management services, and has set the standard for the industry. Since 1962, Brink's has been transporting valuables in 120 countries with branch offices in 53 countries, and its overnight service connects the world’s financial centers. What UPS, FedEx, DHL and others represent in the transportation of general goods, Brink's represents in the area of valuable cargo. Brink's offers comprehensive services from pickup to the timely delivery of cash, diamonds and jewels, precious metals and important government documents.
Besides armored vehicles and well-trained employees, the worldwide organization of highly secure express deliveries demands optimal processes and an efficient infrastructure. Delays, losses or erroneous deliveries are not tolerated in this area of business; reliability is paramount. As a result, Brink's has created a powerful information technology for the processing of international shipping orders. The system, developed in-house, is based on SQL Anywhere Studio database technology from iAnywhere running on the Windows 2000 operating system. It is currently live in 28 computer centers on four continents.
“Security, service and speed are the decisive factors for us as an express delivery company,” explains Haim Zanzer at the Belgian branch of Brink's, which is responsible for the IT system worldwide. “When we move valuable goods, we must make sure that our information travels at least as fast. This is why we developed a mobile solution with our Spartacus project.”
The Spartacus Project
For reasons of security, Brink's has up to now developed and operated all systems in-house. As a result of its decision to implement a mobile solution, for the first time data is being processed outside the walls of the company. The mobile solution named “Spartacus” enables approximately 200 drivers worldwide to enter and process data on the road. When the transported goods arrive at their destination, the devices are used to coordinate transporting vehicles, and at the time of delivery to the client, to capture a digital signature as a receipt. In January 2004, two parallel pilot projects were started in Belgium and Hong Kong. The worldwide introduction of the system was completed in the summer of 2004.
“In our industry, clients value care and speed the most. In addition, information must be treated just as discreetly and securely as the goods transported,” Zanzer said. “This is why a reliable mobile solution is so important for us. With Spartacus, we can monitor every single package until it arrives, have control over every move, and can complete procedures in our systems with extreme speed ."
Before the drivers start on their routes, at the branch office they synchronize all data relevant for the day on their mobile devices. During the route, they enter delivery confirmations and copy this information to the branch, so that all completed assignments can be closed immediately in the central systems. In this way, manual and paper-based steps, such as inputting shipping tickets into a computer, are replaced by automatic entry. The entire process is accelerated and potential sources of error are eliminated. Since it is not a simple matter to build devices into armored vehicles, and since the cost of online communication via GPRS would have enormously increased the operating costs of the project, an online solution did not come into question.
Standard products for an individual solution
In the selection of the hardware and software for the project, security and reliability were critical. The drivers of the vehicles are using the Dolphin 9500 by the U.S. company Hand Held Products (HHP). The combination of HHP’s Adaptus™ technology, the Intel® X-Scale™ processor and the Microsoft® Windows® Pocket PC platform ensures full-scale operation, efficiency and user-friendliness. As a result, the error-free entry and processing of data for mobile applications is enormously accelerated. The point-and-shoot function allows the direct scanning of practically any customary symbology.
When it came to software selection, tried and true products were used: since Brink's had good experiences with SQL Anywhere Studio and Sybase’s PowerBuilder development environment in local applications, the company chose iAnywhere technology for the mobile solution, as well. The mobile variant of PowerBuilder, PocketBuilder was used for development. The mobile devices rely on SQL Anywhere Studio and its UltraLite deployment option. SQL Anywhere is the market leading solution for the development and deployment of embedded database applications in mobile, desktop, server and remote embedded environments.
Since the company already uses SQL Anywhere on the servers, the learning curve was extremely flat. “We have been using technology by Sybase and iAnywhere for eight years, and our experiences are very good,” summarizes Zanzer. “So it made a lot of sense to continue using proven technology.”
Faster, more secure and more comfortable
When asked about the return on investment (ROI), Haim Zanzer distinguishes between “hard” and “soft” dollars. Calculated in “hard” dollars, according to Brink's calculations, Spartacus will pay for itself in about two years through increased efficiency. On the “soft” side, additional advantages figure in the calculations that are difficult to quantify. “These include better customer service and more control and security,” Zanzer said. “But it is precisely factors such as these that distinguish us as a leading transporter of valuables worldwide and make our market position possible.