April 2003 | Case Studies | Casebook

The Power of GC3

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DuPont's TransOval web portal is primed to take globalization to a whole new sphere, with help from G-Log's GC3.

To say that DuPont is global would be an understatement. Universal might be a more accurate descriptor, given the orbit of its business and the seemingly infinite sphere of products.

Originally founded as an explosives manufacturer in 1802, DuPont switched gears a century later as it turned to chemicals, materials, energy, and more recently food, apparel, electronics, and transportation.

Entering the new millennium, the manufacturer was compelled once again to reinvent the wheel—not in terms of its brand or product line, but rather how it shared information and communicated with global businesses and partners. Historically, DuPont's business units had relied on several disparate, mainframe-based systems for transportation and logistics support. These disconnects not only obscured visibility into the supply chain, but required extra maintenance as well.

"We were faced with rising costs because our legacy products ran on mainframe systems and these expenses accelerated as the infrastructure changed over to more progressive hardware," says Jerry Reynolds, global logistics technology and process manager, DuPont. "We were essentially replacing legacy systems and upgrading and expanding functionality at the same time."

Equally as important as streamlining costs and mitigating the impact of obsolescence was DuPont's desire to move from a network of regional systems to a cohesive global matrix.

"We were established and operating globally, but we weren't managing our business on a global basis. We saw a need for supporting globalization within our business," Reynolds says.

Bringing TransOval to Orbit

Responding to these growing pains, in May 2000 DuPont turned to G-Log, a global logistics and transportation software provider based in Shelton, Conn. DuPont selected G-Log's Global Command and Control Center (GC3) software as the foundation for its centralized, web-based transportation and logistics management system called TransOval.

With multiple business units across 70 countries, ensuring a successful and smooth implementation of the new system was no small task for DuPont.

"None of the software was fully developed when we started," notes Reynolds, "and the idea of web-based technology was a new concept."

The imminent fate of the dot.com phenomenon similarly made businesses wary about investing in Internet-driven technologies. "Within DuPont we were delayed because the e-business generation in web-based products—giving customers access to our internal systems through the web—was creating internal security issues," says Reynolds.

In an effort to allay these concerns, DuPont developed its own extranet as a buffer between its network and the Internet. After rewiring its IT architecture to accommodate G-Log's GC3, DuPont went live with the system in North America in September 2002. It is currently rolling out the new system in Europe, Asia, and South America with the goal of having 80 percent of its logistics information funneled through TransOval by the end of 2003.

The Power of 3

When fully integrated, "TransOval will be an umbrella, a one-stop shop for all our logistics, information, and services," says Reynolds. "The G-Log engine will drive about 65 percent of that."

According to Derek Gittoes, vice president of product solutions, G-Log, GC3 software has enabled DuPont to adapt its IT infrastructure in three ways:

1. Create unity. One important component of the GC3 system is its ability to unify disparate processes and functions. For DuPont this means that it has one system with one view of all of its logistics-related activities—regardless of business unit it is in, geography it is shipping to or from, mode it is moving on, or service provider that is involved in the activity. Using TransOval, anyone within DuPont's supply chain can log into the portal and manage logistics activities at any point in the order management cycle.

2. Gain control. The GC3 software similarly provides DuPont with greater cost and inventory control. In terms of cost, having visibility into the entire supply chain helps users identify shipment optimization opportunities. Accordingly, this information enables DuPont to manage and leverage its inventory to more efficiently and cost-effectively match supply to demand.

"GC3 helps centralize information on the TransOval portal, but also allows DuPont and its partners and customers to manage that information regionally," says Gittoes.

This dichotomy opens the door for DuPont to quickly react to changes in the supply chain, as well as tack on additional functionalities when necessary. Also, because much of DuPont's logistics activities are outsourced to third-party providers, having a centralized portal that they can plug into is essential in preserving seamless communication within the supply chain.

3. Increase flexibility. "Our determination when we embarked on the TransOval project was that we wanted to create more independence for ourselves. This way we would have more flexibility to unplug or plug with various providers based on the services we needed and the quality of services we were getting," says Reynolds.

The ability to respond to supply chain initiatives and concerns—new customs requirements for example—is much easier when information exists in one system rather than disparate business units, says Gittoes. To that end, this flexibility allows companies to add on new businesses and partners as they move forward. It similarly gives them greater leverage to be more selective as to what service providers they do business with.

As DuPont continues to roll out the TransOval portal to its extended business units, the efficiencies it generates within the supply chain will become even more visible.

When fully implemented, TransOval will fulfill "four buckets of functionality within the order shipment lifecycle," says Gittoes. These functionalities include:

1. Logistics order management— integration of order management systems that exist among DuPont's global businesses.

2. Shipment planning and optimization— including routing and carrier usage.

3. Execution— two-way communication between TransOval and DuPont's business partners.

4. Financial settlement— freight payment and cost allocation.

TransOval Comes Full Circle

DuPont has already achieved better planning optimization with TransOval than its previous legacy system and Reynolds expects further improvement as the system matures.

"We are looking to get more timely and accurate information to help us do a better job of managing our supply chain," he says. "When we started the TransOval project we had approximately 115 days of inventory. Now we're down to 112 days. We believe TransOval will continue to drive inventory down and improve our delivery cycle times."

With TransOval managing its global logistics operations, one can only imagine what the next century has in store for DuPont.

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