Software Insights: sennder’s transport model

Software Insights: sennder’s transport model

Live Tracking and monitoring of all transportation data optimises every area of the supply chain. Which technical model enables this service at sennder is explained by our developer Konstantin in the following words with further insight into our technology:

At the core of our software, well sheltered behind the REST and GraphQL APIs lies our transport model. With it, we describe all of our transports, whether scheduled routes, time-critical same-day deliveries, or last-minute deliveries. It describes complex multi-day trips with lots of stopovers and deadlines, as well as a simple transport from A to B.

The transport model serves as the basis of our technology

Our transport model allows us to track the status of a transfer precisely. It forms the basis for our flexible monitoring and messaging system, the customer front-end for our live-tracking on go.sennder.com and our mobile driver app. The flexibility of our model is also crucial when it comes to tying the processes of our cooperation partners flexibly to our own system.

To find the right model is a core task of software development and not as easy as it seems. Models often turn out to be useless because they do not describe the underlying process in the real world sufficiently. The failure can be divided into two categories: models that are too generic, and models that are too specific.

The right model is crucial for the capabilities of the software

If a model is too generic, it feels, as one would build a house out of nothing else but water and clay. Even to describe simple processes a complex configuration of the model is necessary. The lack of framework conditions leads to the fact that you can only make predictions about the reality with a lot of effort. A model that is too specific, however, fails because it is too inflexible to describe the reality in all its facets. It is, as if one would build a house out of large concrete slabs: the size of windows and doors is then determined by the dimensions of the concrete slabs. The end result would likely not look like a typical house. With such a model, one can make simple calculations and predictions, however, these have little to do with the reality.

As with LEGO blocks, each transport consists of several composed steps

At sennder we have spent a lot of time in order to find the best description for our transfers. It took a few iterations until we reached the transport model which we use today:

Each transport is an object which is composed of several steps. The easiest transport has only two of these steps: a departure and an arrival. In order to describe more complex cases, our modular system offers many more step types: steps, in which the driver has to confirm a certain action. Steps, which require the transmission of information and data from the driver. And many more.

All of these step types are connected via an inheritance hierarchy. This principle makes it possible to add, through little effort, very specific step types to our modular structure, which share the generic features of their ancestors. These generic features are crucial prerequisites so that our automatic monitoring can define meaningful events, which are then processed by our notification and alert system. With such steps as building blocks, one can quickly compile an easy transport, but also a complex last mile-delivery tour with many stopovers, checkpoints, and tasks.

Our Software far more than logistics

Our software ecosystem consisting of mobile driver app, live-tracking and a notification system could also be transferred quite easy to applications outside of logistics. Any activity, which consists of a sequence of predictable steps can be described and supervise by our system.

For example, employees of a security service might use the app to navigate on their patrol between waypoints and to record photos and data. The online monitoring on go.sennder.com would then serve to monitor the process from the base. Should the guard not reach a checkpoint at the scheduled time, the system could immediately alert a colleague. So far, we use this system mainly internally, to win happy customers with timely and reliable shipments. If this awoke your interest, please send us a message or directly book a transfer on sennder.com.