Truck loading management

TruckFlow is a product that guides Truck Drivers and brings clarity to scale operators in Vale's port of Tubarão, Brazil. It solves the problem by an SMS messaging system that tells Truck Drivers what do and shows their state to the operator in a kanban-style dashboard.

In this project I did user research, interaction design and user tests, collaborating with amazing professionals like Filipe Baeta, Luisa Nogueira, and Ubirajara Junior.

User interviews
Interaction design
Visual design

The port

I Hundreds of trucks enter and leave the port of Tubarão in Vitória every day. Some bringing products, others taking them out. Whatever the Truck Driver's mission, trucks have to be weighed both at its entrance and at the exit.

The port is enormous. Its size and complexity is a huge source of challenges and headaches for the scale operators. It has five gates for trucks and three scales. The operators' jobs are not only to control trucks weight but also to overview their flow inside the port, making sure their loading/unloading in the right place.

Day 1
Research and Ideation

Stakeholders Interviews

We started the day by interviewing stakeholders so we could understand people's roles in the process, company's pain-points and needs.

Time is precious in these workshops, so we had to have all of them in the room. It's noisy and full of post-its. Luisa, the UX designer, mediated the conversation. I'd noting everything interesting they said.

Scale Operators Interviews

After a lot of talk, post-its, and lunch, we visited the first scale. The goal was to understand scale operators journey, they workstation, interaction with the Truck Drivers and pain-points in the current system.

Right away we noticed an issue: 3g was barely existent. Some scales were too far from any provider's antenna.

Mapping the Problem

Also, the system they used was kind of archaic. It didn't give an eagle's eye view of the whole process, like where are the trucks, who was waiting, what they're bringing to or taking from the port. Communication with vehicles was manual, and sometimes the operator had to leave the workstation to talk to the Truck Driver in person.

Company’s pain-points


Scale operator journey

Day 2
Research, ideation, and initial proposal

Truck Drivers interviews

In the morning — also in the night — of the second day we went to another series of conversations, but that time we talked with Truck Drivers. We wanted to understand their journey, difficulties they have to face, how tech-savvy they were.

Later that day, we noticed that we could separate them in two groups: people that came from very far, some for the first time; and the ones that worked for nearby clients, that would come to the port more the 2 times a day.

Truck driver journey

The proposal

After lunch, we went back to the office to prototype ideas. All the research we did presented us a handful of restrictions.

Designing an app, which is usually the type of solution Greenhouse's workshops generates, wasn't the best solution, it'd be actually the worse.

For two reasons:

  • Most of the scales had terrible 3g coverage, some had none.
  • Engaging Truck Drivers to download an app would be costful, once they are not Vale's employees.

The solution was SMS messaging system. Once the trucks got registered, the system would create a “digital line”, coordinating the turn of each vehicle. Drivers would answer the SMS accordingly and move to the next step.

The scale operator wouldn't need to do almost anything unless it was indispensable. They'd have a dashboard, a kanban style one, where they'd have an overview of the whole thing. This last part we sketched in day 2 and mocked up on day 3.

SMS flow

Day 3
Design, User Tests, and Presentation


In the last day, we started by testing the SMS flow by sending messages manually, following the flowchart we designed. The idea was to see if the SMS were evident to the Truck Drivers.

The Dashboard

This is the dashboard we came up with. The idea was to have something operators could use in their desktop computer, but also mirror it on a TV, so everyone in the workstation how the load and weighing were going.

We wanted them to see the whole thing without the need to scroll horizontally, so operations had its own column. We used the flags “loading”, “loaded”, and “wrapping” to indicate what stage they were in that step.

Later that day we presented it to the scale operators and stakeholders. They were pleased about it =).


The answers is out there

If we were inside the office during this project, we wouldn't understand the main issue: the lack of 3g connection. To understand users in their environment was the best thing we could've done.

Get in love with the problem, not the solution

Building an app could've been cool, I love designing mobile apps. Thing is it wouldn't solve the problem, it would create others.

iOS users did fine, while Android folks got lost. They started to look around to find what to do next. Removing the FAB button was a BAD idea. Users had already used it, they knew what it does. By creating a new interaction for the empty-state, I made users think.