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Rearchitecting a 3PL Process for Efficiency and Scalability

How AVIO Dramatically Improved Time-to-Value for 3PL Provider

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Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are facing great challenges as e-commerce pushes legacy systems and technologies to the brink. Faced with increasing customer demand and supply chain pressures, 3PL providers are not only needing to accelerate their processes but also more seamlessly integrate with Transportation Management Systems (TMS) without refactoring their entire codebase.

This AVIO Consulting client is a 3PL provider that receives orders from multiple channels, including e-commerce.

The Challenge

This client needed to bring new warehouses online quickly to improve time to value while ensuring orders were delivered to the correct warehouses. 

Technical Challenges

The primary technical challenge standing in the way of the client scaling their logistics and order fulfillment infrastructure ultimately came down to a legacy point-to-point approach to integration. This antiquated methodology caused a widening digital evolution delivery gap, where teams and the codebase could not keep pace with growing demand.

Specifically, this client faced a massive amount of technical debt within their existing legacy application. Each time a new warehouse was brought into the overall delivery system, every single step of this point-to-point approach needed to be rewritten. 

This monolithic app and process had limited observability and no traceability or unit testing. It would take two to three weeks to implement integrations for each warehouse, incurring more technical debt to the overall IT portfolio. 

Overall, the demands on IT continued to grow for this client while the delivery capabilities in terms of resources and personnel budget remained fairly static. 

Business Challenges

The client also faced several business challenges in addition to technical ones. This client tended towards a reactive versus proactive approach, hunting down errors when they occurred instead of developing their codebase in a way that would reduce those errors. The result: developers spent more time fixing technical debt than adding new and innovative features.  

These legacy systems made it difficult to scale and drive new revenue despite their mergers and acquisitions activity and geographic expansion. Their growth was also inhibited because of the limitations in how many orders could be processed per warehouse. As the orders per warehouse increased, more errors arose with limited traceability and visibility. 

This client was facing a weeks-long process of bringing on a new system. They wanted to reduce that timeline to days instead of weeks. 

AVIO Consulting’s Solution

All AVIO’s technological solutions are built on a catalyst-aligned approach to MuleSoft implementation that strives to unify technological, business, and people processes. Based on that foundation, the team at AVIO designed a MuleSoft Anypoint Platform solution to accelerate development for this client, implementing a standard MuleSoft three-layer architecture: 

  1. An experience API to bring in orders from e-commerce sites 
  2. An orders process API to orchestrate those orders 
  3. Multiple system APIs to connect to the FTP server, a web service (which connected to an end delivery organization), and a database for storage

AVIO created a generic RAML definition in place for these APIs, using message identifiers and transaction IDs for better traceability. In addition, AVIO utilized dynamic routing to the downstream system APIs based on the message type or content, using standard loggers to enhance visibility overall and reducing the time needed to resolve bugs. 

These changes empower the client’s IT team to use configuration instead of coding through MuleSoft. Dynamic database queries also enable the re-use of the same asset for API calls. 

The Results 

This client was able to re-use their entire API-led application network and simply develop one new system API instead of rearchitecting and redeveloping the entire system from scratch for each new warehouse. This made scaling occur more rapidly by creating a new system API to interact with the existing orders process API. 

AVIO helped its client add additional warehouses to their application network in two to three days instead of two to three weeks, which dramatically improved their processes, reduced technical debt, and increased order fulfillment capacity. 

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AVIO Consulting leverages technology to drive digital evolution. We create innovative, efficient solutions for clients in several different industries.Our thought leadership and high-performing team help organizations implement the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform for better business performance. 

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AVIO Consulting provides the formula to accelerate digital evolution and innovation. We offer thought leadership and proven practices for modern software development as well as a highly productive delivery team focused on enterprise integration with the MuleSoft platform.