Inside Linfox's vendor-first innovation strategy

 
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Linfox has been working to consolidate its various backend systems onto a common SAP platform over the past 15 months.

Ansley said the company had replaced three brands of warehouse management systems with another two to go.

It also was removing custom code from its fleet management system and a bespoke driver time, payroll and invoice system built almost 20 years ago.

Ansley expected to have replaced all legacy systems within Linfox and at customer sites within the next two years, as various customer contracts were renewed.

“We’re moving all of our customers, over time, to common technologies,” he explained. “As we’ve fully depreciated an investment that we’ve already made, then we’ll put the new technology in.”

Ansley hoped to integrate Linfox’s systems more deeply with those of its customers, allowing the company to take on more supply chain tasks such as planning, in addition to its current warehouse and transport offerings.

“I think there’s a lot of further work to be done in the industry generally in optimisation, whether that’s load optimisation, route optimisation … space utilisation in warehouses, those sorts of things,” he said.

 

Linfox was upgrading from SAP’s Warehouse Management product to Extended Warehouse Management, which improved its ability to direct staff and machines in a warehouse by dynamically optimising workflows and presenting instructions on a handheld device.

By 2016, the company also planned to roll out Motorola’s ET1 ruggedised Android tablets under a “device convergence project” for its 5000-strong fleet.

Ansley said Linfox had recently concluded its final trial of the technology, and would begin rolling out the seven-inch devices with a range of Android applications late this year.

The applications allowed drivers to take notes about consignments and report any adverse events affecting traffic or their deliveries.

Besides being issued to Linfox drivers, the applications could also be downloaded and used by the company’s subcontractors on their personal devices.

Ansley expected the Motorola tablets to replace up to six existing devices in Linfox vehicles, including navigation, personal audio and fleet management systems, for half the price.

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