CIG Billing Reports UI

Case Study: Billing Reports for Oil Field Logistics Provider

Client

Our client is a market leader in oil field logistics and transload services.  They own and manage a nationwide network of transload terminals where they store and move millions of pounds of bulk sand, crude, and other materials to and from trucks, railcars, silos, and other containers.  Their services are a critical element in the energy supply chain in North America.

This client operates transload facilities, where they transfer products between trucks, railcars, and on-site storage containers. They specialize in transloading frac sand for the oil and gas industry, particularly in the Southwest, although they handle a variety of materials at locations all over the country.

One of the client’s transload terminals.

Problem

The railcars, trucks, and materials they handle do not belong to the logistics service provider, but rather belong to their clients, who either produce and sell materials or consume them. Either way, they need to move large quantities of bulk materials using multiple modes of transport, which our client facilitates.

One of the logistics provider’s transload facilities. Sand is brought in via railcar and unloaded with the mobile conveyor in the center of the image. Trucks can be loaded directly from the railcar with this device, but product may also be unloaded from railcars and stored in containers like the ones shown on the right.

The client’s business is not based on the products they handle, but on the handling itself. As such, they bill their clients based on the weight transported, with rates varying based on location, customer, mode of transport, material type, container type (silo, hopper, warehouse, etc.), and various other factors. Some of these rates are set on a sliding scale based on volume. Some include minimum volumes that must be achieved within a certain time frame.

They also bill demurrage fees for railcars stored at their facilities, which vary based on the type of car. Most of these are actually charged by the railroad and passed through to the client. They typically have a certain number of free days, with a charge daily for each day after that threshold.

Many of our client’s customers are multi-billion dollar companies, and their requirements can vary greatly. As such, each contract is negotiated separately and will have different terms.

Because of all this, calculating exactly what each customer owes them at the end of the month is an extremely complex task. Data on every truck to visit each facility was being exported into a spreadsheet, and the accounting department would add all the various calculations, manually entering the more complex variations. But as the business grew, this became too time-consuming, and they simply could not keep up.

Solution

We built them a system where they could enter all the complex details of the billing agreement for each contract. Then we built a report generation system where they could grab all the transactions for each customer, have the fees automatically calculated, and quickly review them. Once reviewed, they would click a button and all the transactions would be exported to their accounting software, and an invoice would be generated. Later, as the client’s business grew, we modified the export to send the transactions to an enterprise ERP system instead.

Result

This system allowed them to recoup lost revenue that would have been missed by the manual process, and easily generate accurate invoices for all their clients with only a couple of accountants, instead of an army of analysts, which they would need at this point.

Case Study: Signature Pad Integration for a Transload Company

Client

Our client is a market leader in oil field logistics and transload services.  They own and manage a nationwide network of transload terminals where they store and move millions of pounds of bulk sand, crude, and other materials to and from trucks, railcars, silos, and other containers.  Their services are a critical element in the energy supply chain in North America.

One of the client’s transload facilities.

Problem

The client has a proprietary cloud-based operations management application they use to track all material and asset movements at each of their facilities.  A key part of this process requires capturing bill of lading signatures from truck drivers before they leave the facility. Different facilities require different configurations, based on available equipment, facilities, and staffing.  Some facilities use desktop PCs with a USB signature pad, while others use a ruggedized mobile device with a touchscreen.  Still others use custom-built kiosks with larger touchscreens.  No matter the hardware used, signatures need to be captured and stored in a consistent format, and must be easily retrieved later for auditing and verification purposes.

A USB signature pad can be plugged in to a desktop PC and used to collect driver signatures.

Solution

Using an open source jQuery signature plugin, and the proprietary SDK from the device manufacturer, we built a single, reusable component which allows signatures to be captured via any method: signature pad, touch screen, mouse drawing, and saved to the app’s datastore as a PNG file.

Trucks are weighed on a truck scale to capture the final gross weight before generating the bill of lading. Once this data is collected, the driver signs the BOL eletronically.

If the signature pad is installed, impressions are captured in real time, and rendered on the screen.  If the signature pad is not installed, the system will fall back gracefully.  A message informing the user on how to install the signature pad can be displayed.  Meanwhile, the other signature methods are still available.

Driver signatures are captured in the web app, along with the other truck data. This box supports both physical signature pads like the one pictured about as well as signing with a mouse or touch screen.

Result

Our client no longer has to be concerned about signatures when planning deployments.  Any possible situation can be handled with minimal overhead, whether they are using desktop computers or mobile handhelds.  Not only that but some time after this solution was deployed, the transload company began installing kiosks with a large desktop-sized touch screen at certain facilities.  Because of the flexibility of the signature solution, the kiosks were able to support on-screen signature capture without any additional development.  Whether the facility uses touch screen kiosks, handheld devices, or a signature pad attached to a desktop PC, the application is able to handle it seamlessly.  Digital signature capture for Bill of Lading documents will be available in any scenario.

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