Lantern goes Android

Lanterns is one of the largest vehicle vehicle recovery companies in the UK. They have been using Vtrak since 2005 and this has allowed the company to grow and diversify.

Over the past years they have engaged a number of companies to design a mobile App that would allow them to send jobs to a driver on a mobile device. The driver would then process the job(s) on the device and this would automatically send back information about the progress, what was done and the outcome, of the job. Ideally this would be seamless. Unfortunately, these projects all failed. 

Laser Byte has developed a number of mobile solutions to work with Vtrak, and so we offered to develop an application for Lantern. This application would work on Samsung Android phones.

The Problem:

When a job is sent out to a driver, it used to be phoned through or sent via a text or email. This worked, but didn't provide any method of sending back progress information, to the control room. Furthermore, the old system used paper POD sheets which were used to record the damage, what was done etc etc. When the driver returned to base someone would then have to go through the sheets and add the information to Vtrak ready for billing. This was inefficient.

A number of companies had tried to write an App for Lantern, but had failed. They had under estimated the complexity of vehicle recovery and the level of seamless operation that Lantern wanted, (and used to because they used Vtrak!). They mis-judged what the customer wanted.

Lantern wanted a system that would be seamless and allow jobs to be sent to the driver, for the driver to accept the job, go to the distress vehicle, enter damage and condition reports, log what they did, what parts they used and the job outcome. They also wanted the system to take photographs and send all the status and the POD's back to Vtrak automatically, and pinned against the job. Laser Byte accepted the challenge and designed a system from scratch using WinDev mobile, for the App, WebDev for the Webservices and Clarion for the Vtrak changes.

The Solution :

Laser Byte evaluated a number of design programs to see which would be powerful enough to provide what was required. Another constraint was that the solution should have no ongoing licence fees. Lantern wanted to pay once for the product. There were a number of systems that would have done the job, but they mostly had ongoing licence fees. Some of them would be £12,000 per annum. WebDev and WindDev were licence free.

So, we bought Windev, WebDev and WinDev mobile and went on a training course... and invoked the help of Carlo from Netquest.

The first thing to do was to scope the project... What did the application need to do. Once we had the basic requirements we designed file structures and wrote the middleware. This was the software that would talk to Vtrak and the mobile App itself. This was tested rigorously using test buttons we set up within Vtrak. At the same time we started writing the Android App. 

At first we just established basic communication... send a job and see it on the phone.... send a reply and see it appeared within the main SQL database. After 2 weeks we had achieved this, and this was further than the previous developers had got in months!

Then it was a matter of refining the operation of the App. The major issue was designing the POD and the workflow. We did this under the guidance of the Operations Director, a real case of teamwork in action. After a month of designing, refining and constant testing we got to a point where the system worked. The system identified and processed Roadside and Recovery differently and applied 2 different workflows. It would handle multiple jobs simultaneously. It would lead the driver through the process and not allow him to proceed without doing critical steps in the workflow. It would send back status updates, as well as the POD and photographs.

The final part of the project was to modify Vtrak so it handled the sending and receiving of job information intuitively. These modifications to Vtrak and a return data processing program then controlled what happened to returning data. This software is used to email messages to the control room to say a driver was onscene, and the other steps within a job. This software also sends emails to the customer, with the POD attached. The system can even manage multiple recipients of this information. And using AI, this whole process is truly seamless!

So, this is an example of a project, that was written from scratch using the best tools available, and provided the exact solution the client required.

This shows that such projects can be successful, especially when Laser Byte is behind the wheel. Software that Works!

Site powered by WEBDEV from PC SOFT. Programmed by Laser Byte Ltd. Copyright Laser Byte Ltd 2020.