The introduction of smartphones and tablets over the past few years has led to the emergence of a large number of new business-related apps which have enabled small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve their operational capacity at low cost.

While many people perceive the country's supply chain to be dominated by large organisations with huge warehouses and cargo fleets, the truth is that deliveries are often handled by smaller companies, many of which are now seeing the benefits of new smartphone apps.

Mobile computing company Skillweb has recently announced that it is developing a new tracking app which will allow smaller courier services to compete with larger companies by offering enhanced package-handling software.

Most large couriers employ complicated tracking systems consisting of large amounts of hardware, which is used to keep tabs on the progress of packages through the delivery process, as well as electronic signing devices for confirming deliveries once they reach their end product.

However, the new app, called SmartTask Proof of Delivery (POD), will enable SMEs to perform these same tasks at low cost, without the need to install any hardware or implement any complicated administrative procedures.

SmartTask POD will allow couriers to scan parcels, create exceptions and capture signatures, using nothing but a smartphone or tablet.

The app will be free to download on a number of handsets, which is why Skillweb managing director Paul Ridden believes it offers a perfect solution to any small companies looking to adopt tracking for the first time.

"SmartTask POD not only reduces the cost of deploying a tracking solution, but also drives down the management, administrative and capital expenditure requirements of servicing peak increases in delivery resources," commented Mr Ridden.

Until now, supply chain management jobs involved the use of complicated and somewhat cumbersome tracking systems, although Skillweb is aiming to change that.

Meanwhile, technology firm Cambridge Consultants has developed a new device called DropTag, which provides customers with information about the treatment of their parcel while it is in transit, therefore revealing whether or not it has been mis-handled.

The device records all shocks and g-force experiences, which are then displayed on a readout on the recipient's smartphone, allowing them to establish if a product has been damaged before they open it. This way they can refuse to sign for delivery and send it back with the courier, thereby taking the hassle and cost out of the returns process.