Case Study 2

Case Study 2: The Synergies of Logistics and Systems:


The client is a third party logistics provider to a major European manufacturer of consumer packaged goods. The client runs three distribution centres across Western Europe, taking deliveries from manufacturing sites, and, in turn, delivering to a range of sites (from hypermarket level to 'mom and pop' outlets. A range of contracted carriers makes these deliveries.

The manufacturer uses SAP (R3) as its ERP system, while the client runs EXE Technologies Exceed warehouse management system (WMS).


The client was suffering severe problems with distribution of transportation instructions to carriers. Delivery instructions were being transmitted from the manufacture's system, via a VPN to the local WMS. Pick sheets were produced locally and, once picking was completed and confirmed, delivery notes were printed. These printed delivery notes were then being faxed to the carriers. This was obviously a time consuming and error prone method of handling data transmission.


    • The manufacturer demanded that any systems based solutions should be available on a 24/7 basis, and to support this any servers involved should have full fail over cover.

    • The client insisted that any solution should cope with the fact that not all delivery instructions received could be executed (stock shortages etc.).

    • The manufacturer was planning to change ERP systems and was therefore unwilling to invest any time or money in modifications to SAP.

The client wanted rapid results that would not impact current developments on the WMS application.


3DL identified a downstream data source - a package used at the loading dock to print shipping labels. This package produced an output that represented EXACTLY what had been loaded to a truck, thus minimising any possible data discrepancies. This package produced a clean ASCII file detailing cartons, weight, address etc.

Using this, together with a one off extract from the ERP system, 3DL were able to construct an engine that could produce output ready for input to the hauliers' own systems. This engine was prototyped using MS Access and demonstrated to client remotely.

Given the costs of duplicate servers etc, this solution was impractical for a rapid deployment at each of the client's sites: to solve this, 3DL converted the engine to operate on a web based server (with fail over). This enabled each location to load its daily output to a web based application, which then translated this into instruction files for hauliers and transmitted these instruction via either FTP or email to the hauliers' desired location.

This solution took approximately one week of elapsed time, and produced a rapid payback. It has since been enhanced with further functionality and has also been integrated into a self-bill system for the client, enabling even tighter management of the hauliers.


Use of web based technology allowed a rapid, low cost system to be deployed which met all client criteria and time scales. Investment costs were minimised with public domain software while development costs were cut to a minimum through the use of offshore labour, working via the internet to remove travel costs.

For low investment the client achieved a long lasting solution that made significant operational savings across its organisation.

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