Business Challenge – Finding a Way to Update Outdated Business Processes
Choice Aviation Services is an international airline cargo company based in the United States. They offer logistic services, such as import/export processing, screening, and warehouse handling services. The business needed to find a way to automate its operations to improve efficiency and better meet customer needs. They looked into using Microsoft Power Platform systems to streamline operations.
Further expanding its air cargo business, Choice Aviation recently acquired another warehouse operation. However, this acquisition included numerous outdated business processes. Choice Aviation needed to make immediate improvements. As they were up against a tight timeliens, the company needed to be prepared to open in only a few weeks.
One of the top priorities at the warehouse was to modernize and automate the manual check-in process for handling incoming freight completely.
In the old system, drivers arrived with packages at the warehouse. They would drop their paperwork at the counter and wait for it to be processed. This process often created loss of paperwork and long waits. It was impossible to keep track of customer wait times, which made it a frustrating experience for everyone.
Eventually, the company decided to use Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate through Microsoft Power BI. In addition to modernizing operations, Choice Aviation could also take advantage of real-time business intelligence for data reporting. Creating new standards for efficiency throughout the entire logistics industry, the results of this transition created a state-of-the-art logistics system.
Software Solution – Microsoft Power Platform
In less than four weeks, the team at Choice Aviation Services began to plan, develop, and thoroughly test an integrated digital solution to expedite this entire process. Initially, it started with a self-service kiosk for the customers. Now, it includes a desktop app for agents, real-time dashboards for managers, and mobile applications for the warehouse. All of this was developed with the Power Platform.
Overview of System Operations:
With the new solution, each customer that arrives at the warehouse enters all their delivery information within a Power Apps application. This is available on a touchscreen kiosk, located in the warehouse’s waiting room. Helping with any language barriers, they also intergrated Azure Translator within the app. The implementation of this app enables kiosks to display text in more than 90 dialects and languages.
Making it easier to manage payments, they connected an external system to the app. A sender with international cargo must pay import service. This is covered by one of the payment partners at Choice Aviation. The system processes payment data from the payment partner by using Azure App Services. It automatically matches this information with incoming deliveries. Additionally, it will alert customers if any payments are required during the sign-in process.
Each customer returned to their truck in a specific parking area after completing the sign-in process. This new process was implemented for safety due to COVID-19. Allowing the system to automatically send out estimated wait time text notifications, they also integrated third-party messaging app, Twilio. It also notifies the driver once the cargo is ready and shows the dock’s location.
Agents in the office choose from the list of customers within the app to begin processing deliveries. The system automatically sends out order information to the warehouse. By using an app for mobile warehouse management, agents can process each order.
During this process, a Power BI dashboard shows the current wait times for each customer in the queue. Meanwhile, it also displays alerts if a customer has been waiting longer than normal. Offsite managers can easily log in to check agent productivity. They can also assign additional agents to manage higher workload volumes.
Expansion of the Power Platform System
The original Power Platform solution led to implementing the Eco Operational System (EOS) at Choice. This is an integrated system with more than 17 applications within the Power Platform. The extension of this system makes it possible to display several sources of client and operational information, while streamlining business processes.
The Choice Aviation team can integrate airline data by viewing exports and imports for each day. This integration enables employees to make plans for incoming cargo much more effortlessly.
The new Power Apps module also improves dock door management. Agents can now quickly identify which doors are unavailable or reserved through the app. They can also easily assign available dock doors to customers.
Customers can rate their experience during the check-in process. So, managers review this feedback. Teams Shifts is a schedule management feature that they also integrated within the system. It replaces the need for using paper updates by using a real-time dashboard located within the warehouse.
The Results – A Significant Increase in Efficiency
Implementing these improved processes has made a positive impact throughout the company. The Power Platform System improves freight processing by more than 80%. Due to the app’s ability to take photos of incoming freight, it has nearly eliminated liability costs for damaged cargo.
An increase in efficiency throughout the company is partly due to automation. But, it’s also because of easily accessible performance metrics. There were practically no performance metrics available under the old warehouse system for tracking wait times or keeping up with processing cycles throughout the warehouse.
Live data is now readily available in the front office and warehouse. Power Platform makes it easy to show data through numerous channels, such as through Power Apps on TV monitors in warehouses or Power BI dashboards on computers. Greater visibility for customer wait times has helped develop a business culture focused on improving performance.
There are even more plans to improve and expand the system. These future plans include integrating communication with airlines and building freight manifests from the warehouse app. Other future changes include advanced analytics related to system data to plan for increases in freight traffic. Furthermore, there are plans to change the existing SQL database for additional security and more management options.
Developing the operating system on the Power Platform enabled the company to create new industry standards for improving efficiency in only a short amount of time.
Customers agree that implementing this system creates a much easier check-in process. These pick-ups and drop-offs are well-organized, as it creates a better experience for everyone involved.