Keeping control on the supply chain is key for Logistics Service Providers (LSP’s). In a large project in which HOYER transformed both backoffice and frontoffice applications, HOYER was able to maintain control. The success consisted of a HOYER team, Yellowstar support, Oracle DB and APEX software.

HOYER has transformed its application landscape while dealing with several challenges. The main challenge was to make the LSP’s Transport Management System fit for the future. The company did so by migrating the user front end from an elder technology to a modern browser technology. It did so with as few disturbances as possible for the ongoing development. In addition there were few disturbances for users and hardly any training of the new system was required.

Software development

Before the start of the migration project and the rollout of APEX, the LSP had a few important objectives, says Stephan Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is project manager and responsible for the project at HOYER: “Developing the software further by our own, so without the help of Yellowstar, was one of these objectives. We were able to achieve this.”

APEX was and is a good choice

The first steps of the APEX project date back to June 2011. “At that time Yellowstar had just started and was growing. The Oracle APEX functionality also was significantly smaller than it is today. Still, Oracle APEX seemed to be a good choice at that time and we assumed a promising outlook for it. We appreciate the extensive setup of Oracle APEX tools and functions as they allow developers to rapidly build web based applications in APEX. Even developers who are only used to tools such as SQL can easily learn how to work with it. Also, it provides good response times to the users considering it being a web application – which however cannot always compete with the speed of client-server systems. To ease the migration for the users, we programmed our application via a plugin in a way so that it can be used with the keyboard. This is especially helpful if considerable amounts of data need to be maintained. Last but not least: as APEX is a part of a database functionality it is already licensed and paid for – which hopefully will not be changed by Oracle.”

Replacing the TMS would be costly and time consuming

“HOYER used a TMS which contained lots of customization and historical data. Replacing the system would be a costly and very time consuming project. Additionally, HOYER already had some experiences with early APEX versions. So we intended to build on that experience. It came in handy that Yellowstar was able to support us on a functional and technical level as some of the employees had knowledge on the technology called kernel as well. They were able to develop a technology converter for the essential applications.”

From 300 to 600 transport management users

Since the initial project, HOYER and Yellowstar have been further expanding the already extensive and powerful Transport Management Software. Pfeiffer: “The TMS is fully integrated not only into the HOYER application landscape but exchanges also hundreds of thousands messages to customer and partner systems each months.” The number of TMS users grown from 300 to an impressive 600 today. Pfeiffer: “We manage our European chemical transports with the transport software. In addition we are taking next steps to add more business working with it.”

Support on functional and technical level

Yellowstar has been the IT-partner for the Oracle DB and APEX project, supporting HOYER on both functional and technical level. “Yellowstar offered to build an automatic migration tool, which helped to manage a big part of the work. Some details had to be done in person and manually. The converter helped us immensely to realize and run the project.”

Open heart surgery

The challenge of adapting the LSP’s Transport Management System to the needs of future business was big. Though, the scope during which the project ran was very challenging too, states Pfeiffer: “A technology change during operations, which is often compared with an open heart surgery, is far from easy. We did this during a period of three years.” The approach was an iterative process, with experienced experts on both sides. “This I consider the main success factor. Nevertheless, the project demanded a great deal from all those involved and has expanded our knowledge. By the end of the project, the overall developer team consisted of 50 percent Yellowstar employees and 50 percent HOYER colleagues. Yellowstar was working mainly on the automatic converter and our HOYER developers were focusing on the areas which could not be automatically converted.”

World’s biggest APEX application

Teaming up between Yellowstar and HOYER went well. According to Pfeiffer there was a basis of trust and both parties agreed on a common way forward. “Going through this project together had a positive effect on both companies and for Oracle APEX, too. In 2015, the project was presented to many visitors but also important Oracle APEX managers at the APEX World Conference in Rotterdam as being the world biggest APEX application.” HOYER is ready for the future, the Logistics Service Provider can adjust the solution by itself and add modules if needed.