Architecting a robust, scalable system
30 November 2015
Mainfreight is constantly seeking to delight its customers. The company saw an opportunity to consolidate data from all its systems worldwide so that it could return more useful information, with greater accuracy and speed to its customers.
Mainfreight is a global supply chain logistics provider with 245 branches across 20 countries and a turnover of $2 billion. The company's systems are largely custom built. Mainfreight believes this approach allows the business to be more responsive to its customers. Mainfreight and Sandfield have worked together since 1989.
As Mainfreight expanded so, too, did the global logistics provider's number of IT systems around the world. This system proliferation, coupled with a dramatic increase in the volume of transactions being handled, meant that customers looking for data on a single consignment's status or whereabouts in the logistics chain had to wait seconds – and occasionally as long as a minute – while each individual source system was queried.
Sandfield created the Mainfreight Identity Index (IDi), a global index of every document attached to every logistics action in the supply chain. The index pre-chains data across all of Mainfreight's systems worldwide. As consignments move around the globe, and pass through the hands of third parties such as shipping or courier companies, they often attract up to 15 different references, which are also indexed by IDi.
"IDi processes around half a million consignments, shipments and warehouse movements every day."
Once IDi was in place it allowed Sandfield to build or enhance a range of customer facing systems for Mainfreight.
For example, IDi underpins a new app feature called 'On the Go' that allows clients to instantly see the status and whereabouts of all current and recently delivered consignments, using any reference they choose. The deceptively simple interface designed to mimic iOS is uncluttered and easy to use, and allows for a consistent experience across devices. Customers can begin a task, such as checking a particular consignment has been delivered or delayed, then move from their laptop to their mobile phone (or vice versa) and continue where they left off. The app is designed to enhance the customer's relationship with Mainfreight. Their key contacts and sales people pop up when they log in. They can personalise the app to display a range of information such as a weather feed or share market data.
IDi processes around half a million consignments, shipments and warehouse movements every day.
Mainfreight's customers can track any consignment, or query any logistics action, and receive data at google-equivalent speed, no matter where they are in the world. IDi forms the backbone for all Mainfreight systems and companies, unifying them so that Mainfreight can offer a seamless experience to customers around the world.
Mainfreight is constantly looking for ways to keep delighting its customers, particularly through service and innovation. IDi has allowed Mainfreight to transform the value its data provides to its customers' organisations. The customer-facing systems underpinned by IDi, such as the 'On the Go' app, are used by the Mainfreight team, Mainfreight's customers, and their customers' customers.