During 2013 thru 2015, Fastline Logistics, again, expanded its 35 year logistics warehousing distribution business, this time, to deploy a fully automated KNAPP Multi-channel OSR “picking” system in a purpose built warehouse facility.
The decision to undertake this as an internally controlled and managed solution was promoted and overseen by Alchester in the capacity of external consultant/mentor and collaborative strategic technical adviser in respect to aspects of disaster recovery, multi-site support and systems engineering considerations.
Another aspect of the exercise involved budgeting and cost tracking of the many suppliers and services required. During the initial design, prototyping and evaluation phases of the project, it became evident that a distributed processing methodology to safeguard and reduce downtime risks, was the direction to take.
That ‘distributed approach’ direction was the brainchild of the long standing IT manager, David Buchanan of Fastline, and Alchester assisted by providing encouragement, and that all important “devil’s advocate” styled technical brainstorming. This ensured that ancillary systems engineering, communications, networking and database integrity aspects were managed and understood by fellow members of the Team, improving their familiarity with similar technologies, as the project unfolded. Liaisons with, and the forming of solid supplier relationships for the more complex aspects of the system, were vital parts of the undertaking. Meantime, the critical, application specific aspects of the design, were defined and addressed by the internal IT Team.
The Enterprise level , high availability database requirements in this environment in conjunction with failsafe, offsite and offline backup, and disaster plan considerations, exploited utilisation of well established Open Source technologies, ideal for these requirements, an area of specific interest and expertise of Alchester. The project entailed the selection of appropriate Enterprise level Open Source Solutions to address the realtime needs of the many applications involved, including EDI, WMS and the related interfacing to client data traffic handling.
With a good, dynamic team of multi-skilled personnel on staff, coupled with their many years of logistics and warehousing know-how, the agile development of the overall project met extraordinary project deadlines and performance expectations, which is a testimony to the Fastline IT Team’s abilities. Naturally, as a result of this cohesive group’s abilities to work together, at times, under significant deadline challenges, but meeting those challenges head on, and coming up with ‘the goods’, Alchester stands proud to have been associated with their superb outcome.
“Encouraging a team approach, and being both open and mindful of any limitations, requiring drawing upon external consultants if needed, is in part, the key to a successful project outcome” recalls, Gary Pope, of Alchester. “It’s more than just the Technology constraints and challenges in these situations – it’s also about the people working together.”
Alchester’s role shifted from mentoring the strategic analysis aspects, to providing system administration support services, developing the automated EOD processing aspects and backup/recovery scripts for the Open Source components. In addition, Alchester assisted the highly skilled and professional IT team of the firm, taking on the challenge of selecting, benchmarking, trialling and installing the diverse range of vendor products required, amidst the building of a purpose built warehouse at the same time.
As an adjunct to the technical requirements, was the project costing that was needed, which involved the timely and concise reporting to the Owners and their external Accountants, for funding and budgeting considerations of this multi-million dollar project.
After the initial 12 months of solid, faultless production operation, followed additional stages of successful application improvements to cater for the ever shifting business needs of the many clients.
The result: Fastline’s solution demonstrates efficiencies, and leading edge logistics capabilities, that will continue to carry the business forward as a leader in its field.
Congratulations go to the IT team of Fastline who continue to manage the growth of this system.
Seeing the full system in operation in this short overview below, showcasing the extent of Fastline’s service, best illustrates the magnitude of what this project entailed. Refer to the 1M:50S mark in Fastline’s promotional video, for a closeup of the automated logistics technology implemented.
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