By 24/7 Staff / www.supplychain247.com / February 24th, 2015
Implement a dynamic business-to-business infrastructure that seamlessly integrates Con-way with its customer and partner community, and creates automated transaction intelligence for both application integration and business-to-business flows.
A Global Freight and Logistics Giant
Innovating for the industry
Established in 1929 as a trucking company (Consolidated Truck Lines), Con-way is now a $5.8 billion publicly traded transportation and logistics company spanning 440 locations in 18 countries, with more than 30,000 employees.
Conway relies on the latest technology to provide best-in-class services through three main businesses:
- Con-way Freight - a local, regional, and transcontinental less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation organization
- Menlo Worldwide Logistics - a supply chain solutions design, implementation, and management company
- Con-way Truckload - a network of full truckload services across North America
On the road to supply chain excellence
For a multi-tiered organization like Con-way - which handles everything from warehousing goods for clients, to transporting goods, to designing and running systems to track goods through the supply chain - an integrated, dynamic business-to-business infrastructure that facilitates multiple layers of activity and meets the needs of customers and partners is essential.
Achieving this goal has made Con-way a technology pioneer in its industry, through award-winning EDI solutions that are especially tuned to the global, fast-paced, solution-oriented requirements of its customers
Moving B2B into the Network - Featuring Gartner and Con-way
Video: How leading companies are using new network-based deployment models to increase their effectiveness
Con-way’s partner communities consist of a large mix of trading partners and customers, all of whom need to interact and share data with Con-way in the most accurate, secure and efficient way possible.
Additionally, Con-way’s continued success has brought rapid growth in customer and partner volume, so it has been critical that the EDI setup and on-boarding process be as fast and easy as possible. And once data exchanges are up and running, transaction automation and alerting capabilities are key to reducing costs, minimizing errors, and providing visibility into EDI processes.
In order to efficiently and securely share data worldwide, exceed customer expectations with best-in-class services, and provide seamless integration with their customers’ systems, Con-way uses Axway Interchange and Axway Sentinel as a versatile data-exchange system that includes a smooth, fast data search-and retrieval process, and industry-leading visibility and alerting capabilities, for their customers and partners.
Flexibility and Speed
Thousands of customers, high volumes of data
Data is a huge part of Con-way’s business. Con-way and its customers and partners need to move, store, sort, and extract all types of data with ultra-fast response times. Up to 65,000 messages and more than 300,000 transactions (such as orders and shipment status requests) flow through Con-way each day.
To add to the complexity, Con-way must maintain business transaction records for as much as 10 years in compliance with regulations in Europe and other parts of the world. This means that at any given time there are between 2.3 and 5.5 billion searchable values in the Con-way archives. Despite this massive volume of data, the Axway solution delivers a search response time of less than two seconds.
But just as important as speed is the solution’s flexibility, which enables Con-way to integrate and exchange data with any company using practically any protocol. This capability has allowed Con-way to extend data exchange services to more customers and partners than ever before, providing a “single door” through which all data flows and can be managed and governed. And customers can receive information in the way that best suits their technical profile - including via a browser using Web services.
“We have more than 700 partners with managed connections, and we feel it is very important to keep that management in-house,” said John Reich, IT Manager, Document Management / Enterprise Transmissions at Con-way. “We view our B2B connections as another touch point with the customer, so the flexible integration we get with Axway is critical to the relationship.”
Collaborating and Integrating
For best-in-class services
One of Con-way’s primary business goals is to offer highly consistent on-time service with the industry’s fastest transit times in its trucking operations, and a flexible array of strategic third-party logistics services supporting supply chain operations - all geared toward helping customers improve efficiencies, reduce waste, and drive dollars to their bottom line.
To meet these goals, Con-way needed to be able to share information effectively and efficiently; and they needed on-boarding processes that would get partners and customers up and running - and exchanging data - as quickly as possible.
Con-way’s legacy community management capabilities, however, made keeping information up to date on its 700 partners extremely challenging - partner information was scattered across several locations; notifications about missing or outdated information had to be sent manually; and when a partnership ended, that partner’s information remained in the system, causing unnecessary clutter and taking up storage space.
Con-way needed to store the most up-to-date information on each partner all in one place, and provide self-service capabilities so that partners could maintain their own data.
Con-way chose to integrate directly with customers and partners using Axway Interchange. Interchange enables Con-way to manage its diverse communities based on the latest partner information, and view partner data that spans multiple communities in one integrated dashboard. Using Axway’s self-service features, new partners and customers can complete their own on-boarding process quickly and easily, regardless of their technology profile.
This level of direct B2B integration is also critical for customers who use Con-way’s Menlo Worldwide Logistics division as a third-party logistics provider (3PL). “As a 3PL, we need to be an invisible partner,” said Reich. “With Axway technology, customers don’t even see a difference between their system and ours. In essence, we become part of their business. Seamless integration is very important to us and to our customers.”
Automated Transaction Intelligence
A Con-way differentiator
With Axway, Con-way benefits from automated transaction intelligence across both external (B2B) and internal (A2A) communications. Con-way’s document management system, which stores and accesses transaction and payload information in real time, is linked to Axway Sentinel. Axway Interchange feeds information to Axway Sentinel as needed or requested, and provides internal and external users with a common view of historical and real-time data and events.
“Our back office operations - such as legal, finance, etc. - require the same level of visibility into transactions as do our customers and partners. Internal operational visibility and alignment across departments was a primary driver for us; we needed visibility into internal events and data exchanges, and how they correlate to customer events and data exchanges,” explained Reich.
Automated transaction intelligence enables Con-way to adeptly meet internal service level objectives and the objectives of Con-way customers.
Multi-level Visibility and Alerting
Across complex environments
Con-way’s customer environments are complex, and data exchanges often extend to several organizations at multiple levels of the supply chain. These exchanges include business-critical information, such as orders, freight pickup requests, invoicing, warehousing transactions, and much more. Prior to implementing the Axway solution, locating data could be a challenge.
Supply Chain Visibility: Governing the Flow of Data in Manufacturing & Logistics
Visibility is a key enabler for responsiveness, as it was for specific use cases such as supply chain traceability. If responsiveness is the ability to react to changes in demand and/or interruptions in supply, then the requirement to have visibility into demand and supply is unavoidable: It is a necessary capability.
Axway takes a holistic approach to providing visibility into, and access to, key business processes such as order to cash and procure to pay by offering a view into the entire order life cycle - upstream to supply partners, downstream to customers. The diagram above illustrates the company’s typical approach and how it might link across a manufacturer’s or a third-party logistics provider’s supply chain.
Simon Ellis, IDC Manufacturing Insights
For example, an order might have to be flowed through several partners and then shipped to three different locations before reaching the end customer; chasing down a ship date or other event within this kind of complex order flow could take hours, and require assistance from Conway. With Axway Sentinel, Con-way and its communities now have end-to-end visibility into exchanges, and customers can search for information and get the data they need within seconds.
“We try to keep it simple for our customers. With Axway, we can provide an easy, self-service interface that helps users with their searches, and empowers them to achieve their goals and get business done without intervention,” said Reich. “With minimal information, such as an invoice number, a customer can drill down for detail, navigate sideways and correlate transactions to find the information they are looking for. They have visibility into events from yesterday, last month, or even two years ago.”
Con-way’s data exchange systems are critical to their line-of-business operations; when issues arise in either area, Con-way and its customers need immediate answers. Axway Sentinel’s alerting capabilities tell Con-way immediately when a data path is not operational, and whether or not data flow with a customer has been affected.
Using Axway Sentinel, Con-way can instantly research and correlate data to locate the problem - even across multiple levels of the supply chain - and move to solve it. Con-way leverages the same level of visibility and alerting for business transactions, using payload research and transaction correlations to locate problems and determine if other parts of the business were affected.
“We see supply chain networks getting more and more sophisticated, and time getting more and more compressed,” said Reich. “With Axway, our people don’t have to be intermediaries for customer data - customers have visibility as never before, and are empowered to get what they need, when they need it.” With Axway, Con-way’s customers and partners can even search, retrieve and display data integrated from third-party middleware providers, such as TIBCO.
The Bottom Line
Improved customer satisfaction
As a world-class transportation and logistics company, Con-way has had to solve the challenges of slow and cumbersome partner on-boarding and a host of other business service requirements around automation, self-service, alerting, visibility into data exchanges/transactions, and event and data searching.
Using Axway Interchange in conjunction with Axway Sentinel, Con-way now directly integrates with customers and partners, enabling:
- Secure, fast data exchange and easy on-boarding with partners and customers (EDI and non-EDI)
- Enhanced automation, alerting and self-service capabilities
- A new level of visibility into events and data exchanges that enables Con-way, and its customers and partners, to search and correlate events and data within seconds
All of these enhancements to Con-way’s services and information flows have increased customer satisfaction, lowered IT time and cost expenditures, and provide the scalability and flexibility Con-way needs to manage, control and serve the ever increasing complexity, scope and vigor of its supply chains.
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