W&O Supply, Leading Worldwide Supplier To The Maritime Industry, Transforms Supply Chain Visibility With Low-Code Software Solution
Developed for Austal USA, shipbuilder and major supplier to the U.S. Navy
Insighter™ application, built on the Mendix low-code platform, was prototyped for customer in just one week
Application awarded the Austal 2020 Supplier Innovation Award
Insighter offers real-time visibility into parts supply, generates measurable savings in staff time, and estimates acceleration of order delivery by 10–15%
BOSTON – October 27, 2020 – Mendix, a Siemens business and global leader in low-code application development for the enterprise, today announced that W&O Supply, a leading global marine distributor headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, has rolled out Insighter™, a custom order management and tracking system for its customer, Austal. The new digital solution, co-created by W&O and Austal, built on the Mendix low-code application development platform, automates and streamlines the entire procurement process, from initial RFQ to final order delivery at the shipyard.
Insighter replaces the stream of emails, phone calls and text messages that traditionally accompany product requisitions with a powerful yet simple digital application that supports workflow for both Austal and W&O. Insighter manages the entire document flow and offers real-time visibility into the status and location of every product on order, and automatically notifies the customer as key milestones in the delivery process are reached.
As a result of the more efficient organization, smoother processes, and unified communication, both parties should be able to reallocate resources, freeing their schedules for other responsibilities within their organizations. W&O estimates that Insighter could improve parts delivery times by 10 to 15%.
Previously, the process was saddled with challenges including disparate systems that did not communicate with each other, resulting in duplication of staff efforts in tracking parts down.
In recognition of the success and impact of the Insighter solution, Austal awarded W&O the Austal USA 2020 Supplier Innovation Award.
Austal is a global defense prime contractor and a designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships. One of Austal’s current marquee contracts is for the U.S. Navy’s LCS, or Littoral Combat Ship, a next-generation warship described by the Navy as a “fast, agile, mission-focused- platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation.” Austal USA constructs the aluminum trimaran variant, “Independence,” one of two variants in the LCS class.
W&O supplies parts for the LCS and other Austal shipbuilding projects. W&O is one of the world’s largest distributors of pipe, valves, fittings, engineered products and automation to the marine and upstream oil and gas industries. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pon Holdings B.V., of the Netherlands. W&O partnered with several IT teams from Pon and Mendix-partner Timeseries to create Insighter.
“Shipyards are very sophisticated in many ways and very focused on improving communication flow with their supplier base” says Valeria Jackson, senior director of information technology and business solutions at W&O Supply. “In any place where there are stand alone systems, there will be duplication of efforts in connecting the communication flow. So by centralizing communication through the Insighter app built with Mendix, and increasing visibility into the supply chain, a huge problem is being resolved on both sides.”
The development team at W&O followed design thinking and customer journey mapping processes to facilitate the co-creation of Insighter. According to Jackson, the ability to match the application to the customer journey in a short period of time, while maintaining flexibility to make modifications and iterate, was a primary driver in the decision to go with the Mendix platform.
Jackson said: “When we sat down with our team and our colleagues at Pon and laid out the requirements, everybody looked at each other and said, ‘This is perfect for Mendix.’ We’re excited at the prospect of scaling the product to our other customers, and about the sustainable value it brings to us and our customers.”
Low-code is a model-based, visual development platform that enables broadly skilled teams, including non-technical personnel, to actively participate in the development process. Because domain experts are involved throughout development, the resulting solutions are sharply focused on the business need. And because they involve little or no code, they can be developed up to 10 times faster than traditional methodologies.
“The partnership with our supplier base is absolutely critical, so when we embark on an innovation project, it is essential you have the right partner,” said Bill Rebarick, vice president, supply chain management with Austal USA. “The opportunity to collaborate on this unique project resulted in a major improvement in communications; specifically, in the ability to provide quotes and delivery status updates. The portal allows both W&O and Austal to submit and retrieve information that has otherwise been communicated through email or verbally – which can be troublesome. Austal continues to innovate so we value partners who will evolve with us so we can better serve our customers.”
W&O Supply is now using the Mendix platform to create and scale apps that deliver similar communication and supply chain management and visibility advantages to its other customers.
“W&O and Austal took advantage of two of the Mendix platform’s core strengths: collaboration and speed,” says Rohit Tangri, global vice president, industry solutions at Mendix. “Coming up with a working app in just a week and then involving the customer in fleshing it out is a recipe for success. When you bring the business users and the development team together and give them a language they can both speak and tools they can both use, the odds of arriving at a solution that’s spot-on — without a series of redos and reworks — are tremendously greater. Congratulations to W&O on a job well done!”
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About W&O Supply
Founded in 1975, W&O is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pipe, valves, fittings as well as actuation and engineered solutions to the maritime and upstream oil & gas industries. Serving a variety of customers, W&O operates a worldwide network of 18 strategically located branches from its corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. For more information, visit www.wosupply.com.
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