Enterprise Logistics System Fostering Expansion Across the Southeast

Gulf Winds is a growing transportation company with 14 warehouses and yards around the Gulf Coast of the United States.  Today Gulf Winds operates over 2.3 million square feet of warehouse space and continues to expand though the acquisition of new port-based operations and organic growth. 

Gulf Winds operates an expansive but legacy set of systems to operate their network of facilities, departments and service functions. These legacy systems operate on premises and were built with a mix of MySQL, PHP, Perl and pre-HTML5 markup. Because Gulf Winds appreciates the vital differentiation and enablement role of technology, they brought Mercury in as a strategic partner to help modernize and cloud-enable modern replacements for their legacy systems.

MercuryWorks’ partnership with Gulf Winds commenced by assembling a cross-functional Scrum team for Agile product development. The first order of business was to stand up new cloud architecture, modern technology stack and design system. A vigorous discovery and “Sprint 0” period resulted in a long-term roadmap and technology plan to evolve from old to new systems followed by ongoing development sprints and incremental new system releases.

Following a very active period of co-development, Mercury and Gulf Winds are progressively rolling out a new modern enterprise system into the cloud. The modernized Gulf Winds system is a Progressive Web App (PWA) that provides native-app like features including sometimes-connected functionality across desktop, tablet and phone. While still working through a long-term roadmap, features for scheduling, quote creation, reporting dashboards and warehouse operations are in production use.

challenge

Modern Technical and Agile Approaches

Gulf Winds managed their business with a complex monolithic software solution that controlled all critical aspects of their work. To support active growth, Gulf Winds needed to modernize their systems, but one massive challenge remained: how to break down such a large system and make meaningful changes in an incremental way?

Previous
Next

Analysis

Complex problems require unique solutions. Gulf Winds had already looked at off-the-shelf software and concluded they needed something custom. The first phase of the project included in-depth onsite discovery meetings talking to the stakeholders (executives and users), learning about their business, sketching out process flows, walking through the warehouse and observing operations firsthand.

Early Wins

While it was clear a completely new architecture would fulfill the long term plan, Mercury identified a couple “quick wins” to provide early value and integrate with existing systems. Solutions delivered include a real-time dashboard to replace manual reporting that was being done, and a Progressive Web App (PWA) to replace manual paper-based warehouse operation processes.

Hybrid Approach

As a next step we learned that Gulf Winds’ transportation scheduling process was both complex and largely manually executed. Mercury developed a new Scheduler Tool that is built in a modernized technology stack but takes its inputs from legacy systems. The Gulf Winds Scheduler Team can now work with a fully modernized tool to perform common tasks like what-if scheduling, collaborate with CSR’s on customer availability and finalize realistic plans. The new Scheduler tool automates the posting of all final dates back to the legacy system resulting in no impact to downstream systems.

Fully Modern

As the team’s momentum picked up, Mercury also gained more knowledge of the inner workings of both Gulf Winds’ business model and their legacy system. The team has proceeded to develop full replacement modules for existing code with fully modern modules giving Gulf Winds the freedom to define new business processes. Because new modules do not have to be compatible with legacy systems, velocity significantly picked up.

"The MercuryWorks team’s ability to conceptualize a long-term product roadmap is outstanding, not to mention their ability to collaborate with us on modernizing our legacy infrastructure and applications. They really get our business!"
Dustin Hebrank
CFO

Built Using

C#, MVC, Entity Framework and the .NET Framework were used to implement all business logic, data marshaling and UI rendering for the Connection application. Supporting use of modern CSS and JavaScript provided interaction and responsive display.

Provides database storage, web app, authentication and web services. Azure provides an ideal solution for back end mobile applications with a multi-data center Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud solution that requires extremely little oversight.

The React JavaScript framework provides the UI base for the entire system, providing rapid and smooth data fetching, storage and screen painting.

Software library that allows server code to send asynchronous notifications to client-side web applications. SignalR was used to provide real-time capacity and demand statistics, updating specific data points on user screens as other parts of the business revises scheduling data.

Business+Technology+UX Modernization

When Gulf Winds and MercuryWorks commenced our partnership, we both knew it would be an extensive undertaking and many sprints later, we have proof we were right!  With a high level of collaboration spanning business, technology and user experience the next-generation system is bearing fruit in operation.

As with any enterprise system of this magnitude, the end of the road is never quite reached but with Agile processes and the power and flexibility of a cloud solution, Gulf Winds is poised for the future.

REACH OUT TO US

WEB | MOBILE | DATA