When the QuantumID Technologies (QID) subsidiary in India received a request from local customer, Kingfisher Airlines, to deploy its barcode-compatible, UHF radio frequency identification (RFID)–enabled cargo tracking solution at an additional 58 airport locations, QID knew it needed a more scalable business infrastructure. QID hosted the solution, called ACT, on-premises and stored transactional data in Microsoft SQL Server 2008, which was hosted offsite. To acquire the new work without paying for additional rack space, QID migrated its databases to the Microsoft SQL Azure cloud-based relational database service and its application to the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure offers dynamic scalability, so QID can grow its business without worrying about physical infrastructure. It’s also saving 15 percent in operational costs and increasing application performance by 20 percent.
Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, QuantumID Technologies (QID) is an industrial hardware, software, and technical services company that offers barcode-compatible, UHF radio frequency identification (RFID)–enabled cargo tracking and management solutions. Its subsidiary, QuantumID Technologies (India) maintains a regional office in Pune, India, and five support centers around the country.
QID maintains its competitive advantage by delivering customized, enterprise mobility solutions based on industry-standard products that provide customers a fast return on investment.
The company’s business model, to develop and deliver customer-centered RFID-enabled solutions as a service, offers customers a way of avoiding investments in capital equipment and significantly reducing operating expenses.
For airline cargo and courier customers, QID offers Automated Cargo Tracking (ACT), a turnkey, closed-loop cargo and package tracking solution where customers are charged on a transactional basis depending on the weight of cargo. ACT enables easy cargo routing verification that covers the entire transportation supply chain, from pickup to drop-off. ACT provides support for warehouse operations, outbound and inbound airport operations, and pickup and delivery management. ACT uses RFID tags on the freight and fixed and mobile reader devices installed at up to 12 scan points along the route of a package. The application contains algorithms for transportation logistics with built-in alerts, including email messages that keep customers up-to-date on cargo movement and offer proactive decision-making capabilities to ensure deliveries arrive on schedule. The field devices transmit data to the company’s database servers, and customers can access real-time transit information and logistical reports from a web-based customer portal (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The QID ACT enterprise mobility solution value chain is powered by Microsoft SQL Azure.
The large amount of transactional data generated by ACT adds value to the solution and is a significant competitive advantage for QID, which offers customers more than the average number of scanning points between destinations. Data collected includes package information, way bills, and global positioning system coordinates. With thousands of packages moving through the system, ACT typically collects several megabytes of data every day. The data is archived for two years to enable robust business intelligence, historical reporting, and RFID systems performance analysis.
“One of the most important benefits that we bring to airlines is to provide them with an end-to-end RFID-enabled solution to start or enhance its cargo business growth,” says Milind Tavshikar, Chief Executive Officer of QuantumID Technologies. “Passenger airlines with ambitions to grow their cargo business are a great target market for us because they have already invested the requisite capital [airplanes] to run their passenger airline business and they have a far greater reach than traditional pure-play courier companies.”
A New Business Opportunity
One such company is Kingfisher Airlines, an airline group based in Mumbai, India. In 2008, it contracted with QID to deploy the ACT enterprise mobility solution at seven airports in India. “The ACT RFID solution brought many business benefits, helping Kingfisher Airlines to identify and track cargo, perform capacity planning, and minimize misrouting and pilferage,” says Prasanna Gogwekar, Head of QuantumID Technologies (India). Kingfisher Cargo moves hundreds of tons of cargo each day around the world by using ACT technologies. In a move to expand its air cargo business, in November 2010 Kingfisher Cargo offered QID a new contract to deploy ACT at an additional 58 airports throughout India. QID wanted to accommodate its customer’s request; however, it quickly became apparent that the company needed to make significant changes to its operations before it could scale reliably and cost-effectively to grow its business.
First Hosting Experience
Earlier, in 2008, QID made the decision to host its database servers at GoDaddy, an arrangement that successfully saw the business through its first few years. While QID IT staff members were responsible for everyday server administration, the company was at least absolved of purchasing hardware. “We didn’t want to rely on a home-grown hosted infrastructure for our databases because our customers require continual uptime, 365 days a year,” says Tavshikar. “GoDaddy was the only option available when we started, and they provided us with the reliability of the back-end system that we needed.”