ACFS Port Logistics

Faced with complex customer interfaces that needed to interact with each other rapidly, ACFS Port Logistics found Crossfire EDI solution was the only one to fit the bill.

A need to connect supply chain with minimal impact

When ACFS Port Logistics became involved in the process of one business purchasing another, they were faced with the challenge of separating the business being purchased from its previous owner, which involved many complex customer interfaces that had to be rebuilt in a very short time frame. ACFS’ customers were dependent on them, so they needed to not only be rebuilt, but there was a requirement that the impact on both ACFS and their customers be as minimal as possible.

“We had been using something similar to the Crossfire service, but it was no longer available to us,” explains Business Improvement Manager Jeremy Cox. “We had to move off it fairly quickly, and were faced with finding another solution in a short space of time.”

The hunt for a solution that was robust enough to handle the complexities of ACFS’ multiple customer interfaces began. “We looked at other suppliers, but in the end they weren’t up to the task,” Jeremy recalls. “They weren’t familiar with our industry, they would need to have everything explained to them.”

Each of ACFS’ customers integrate with them in different formats, including EDIFACT, XML, CSV, and fixed format messages from a variety of partner systems, including Cargowise, SAP, and many bespoke customer systems. This meant that the solution needed to be able to pick up any interface, so that they can work with any customer.

An IT manager colleague recommended Crossfire.  “The rest is history,” Jeremy says. “They were able to come in and rebuild those interfaces without any impact on our business, or our customers. And they were able to do it in a very short time frame.”

Experience and expertise

When Crossfire came on board, they did so with both expertise and experience in the supply chain industry. This meant that they were able to grasp the intricacies of the problems ACFS and their customers were facing, and progress quickly, says Jeremy.

“Because we interact with so many customers, the solution needed to be very robust and have the ability to interact with multiple systems and languages, and be able to handle translation,” Jeremy explains. “This is what Crossfire could do that other suppliers couldn’t. They’re familiar with our customers and the challenges they have. They can offer solutions based on that knowledge.”

One of the challenges ACFS faced was not having a standard method of interaction and integration. Crossfire was able to meet that challenge and work with all interfaces. “They’ve been able to make it work for us with every customer,” Jeremy says. “They’ve been able to pick up all interfaces – in fact, they’ve managed every challenge we’ve thrown at them.”

Another major advantage to ACFS has been the solution’s flexibility. “Our systems come with their own challenges,” Jeremy admits. “They’re flexible enough to work within them, while minimising the impact on business continuity.”

No challenge too big or too small

Crossfire’s familiarity with the industry has helped with ACFS’ new business onboarding also. “They’ve been able to get progress started a lot sooner. It used to be quite an ordeal to interface with a new customer, but with this solution we can do it pretty rapidly if need be,” Jeremy explains. “We can go as fast as the customer requires us to. Previously, we would hold things up because we couldn’t move as fast as the customer needed us to, so it’s really been a nice change to be ahead of things.”

Looking ahead, Jeremy says that the Crossfire service has opened up a range of possibilities that they’re looking forward to investigating. “We actually have lots of plans,” he says. “For example, we’re looking at improvements we can make to our customer service team and handling of emails. We’re really interested in how they can help us just generally be smarter with our customers.”