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MMD (Shipping Services) Ltd

European IT Excellence Awards 2011 Winner LogoMMD is a leading importer of produce into the UK through Portsmouth, handling some 2000 product lines per week.  MMD are the Terminal Operators of the lo/lo facilities in the Port of Portsmouth.  The Company is vertically integrated and offers the full range of services to Importers, Exporters, Ship-owners and Reefer Operators.  Services include: Ships Agency, Customs Clearance & Forwarding, Stevedoring, Temperature Controlled Warehousing, Logistics and Transport.  MMD is working with all of the major importers of fruit and produce that service all of the major multiples.

Description: 05040-06The company was purchased by Portsmouth City Council and implemented a sophisticated integrated IT system to facilitate the efficient management of the port while attracting new business.

The Business Need

The business needed a fully integrated modern business management system designed to handle all of its operational practices. Legacy systems consisted of a mixture of electronic and manual processes. These were time consuming and expensive to manage while generating islands of data. This made it difficult for management to increase business efficiency.

With the legacy systems, by the time the invoice was raised, the goods were consumed. Men with clipboards monitored stock movements to minimise losses while providing some form of traceability. This was labour intensive, insecure, expensive, subject to transcription errors and provided no management trend information on key performance indicators.

Produce damaged in transit or of substandard quality were subject to tight supplier notification deadlines. Failure to adhere to deadlines meant rejected claims leaving MMD to settle with the Importers.

The new solution had to be robust and easy to use to achieve buy in by non-technical users, fast in operation to cope with the rapid discharge of vessels and accurate in directing put away operations to reduce waiting time charges.

The Solution

The Dynamics NAV based LINKFresh solution fully integrated the ships manifest information, inventory management, quality control, transport logistics, sales and purchase order processing and financial accounting into a single real-time management information system.

On quayside discharge, pallets are immediately scanned, verified against vessel manifests, checked for transit damage and directed into pre-allocated warehouse locations.

Product requiring quality inspection is pre-flagged prior to discharge.  Once this product has been scanned and identified it is immediately moved to the Quality Inspection Rooms.  Any discrepancies in received product against what is expected is flagged at the scan point and is immediately moved to the hospital area.  This gives the Importers immediate feedback on discharge and allows them to raise issues quickly with their suppliers to comply with tight notification deadlines.

MMD Shipping Goods Received ScreenshotFig 1. Screenshot from mobile device showing the recording of damage and shortages in received product.

Transport requests are automatically scheduled against quality released label checked produce while invoices are system generated on despatch of the goods.

The combination of Dynamics NAV, LINKFresh and innovative .NET mobility applications ideally meet the needs of MMD. From EDI to delivery, information is electronically captured and reused throughout the system. Irrespective of where transactions take place, the core system is updated within seconds in real time. Moreover, all transactions are costed at the time they occur which means MMD are able to efficiently raise the required customer invoicing.  The data is also used to actively monitor and report against Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) providing the management team with a real time window on how the business is performing.

The LINKFresh solution now provides immediate availability of business information on events as they happen.  With LINKFresh, management are provided with an unprecedented level of transparency coupled with triggered alerts on unusual events. Moreover, the system user interfaces are designed to be used with minimal training by non IT personnel.  The system helps MMD to reduce waste, eliminate unproductive administrative tasks while optimising labour and transport resources. This helps to protect profitability and reduce the company’s carbon footprint while using dynamic information as a competitive aid.

MMD Shipping Mobile Screenshot

Mark Willcox, Director at MMD comments; “The system now installed at the MMD Terminal in Portsmouth incorporates many innovative and creative technologies that precisely matched our needs. It provides us and our customers with real time information on all aspects of the produce moving through our supply chain. This is a significant and unique commercial advantage in what is becoming a highly competitive port sector.”

Fig 2. Screenshot showing the mobile application for management of pallet movements in the warehouse

The Benefits

The solution enables MMD to make substantial savings by ensuring accurate and correct stock rotation and correct product distribution across over 2000 product lines.  Real time stock position and outturns are electronically sent to customers, thereby reducing claims. It also helped to improve customer service by advising of potential product shortfalls. The speed and accuracy of invoice production also reduced credit note demands thus improving cash-flow.

The scanning on receipt moved from the clipboard users to the forklift drivers responsible for storing goods in the warehouse. This was a massive labour cost saving as it allowed the redeployment of four people per shift. In addition, all goods scanned into a racked pallet location, and are now fully traceable in real time. This has significantly reduced produce going missing as physical manual checks are reconciled with the electronic data.

“The impressive aspect of the implementation has been the excellent collaboration between the Anglia and MMD teams throughout the project”, reports MMD Consultant Janet Martin. “We have been able to benefit from their extensive expertise in the deployment of supply chain solutions in the fresh produce sector. The system has helped us to improve our efficiency by tightening up on our claims procedures and inventory management. It has also enabled us to reduce costs through the redeployment of staff to more productive activities.”

MMD customers, whether they are importers in the UK or suppliers/growers, are also seeing the benefits. They can nominate required pallets prior to discharge. This enables them to select their shipments to meet their priorities. They previously had to send people to meet dockside arrivals to schedule these.  Their stocks in the Port are available in real time; they can see throughout 24 hours their distribution, tracing the product through the supply chain.

The return on investment to date has been significant. However, the business now invites potential new clients to visit Portsmouth docks. The IT system is flagged as a key service differentiator in attracting new opportunities using dynamic access to customer data as an aid to productivity.

As MMD Director Martin Putman summarises, “The solution now matches our preferred working practices. Our processes are now more efficient, administrative costs have been reduced, customer service and staff morale improved and we have sharpened our competitive edge. The combination of timely claims processes, resource redeployment and improved cash flow has already produced annual savings of over £300,000 per annum.”   

“This totally integrated dynamic solution will enable us to use modern information technology as a future business aid. This, together with our other investments has already enabled us to attract new customers thus protecting the future of the Port. The recently announced Del Monte contract is an excellent example where linking our systems has already produced significant mutually beneficial efficiencies”.  

Technology Description

The MMD software solution is based on the total Microsoft Technology Stack. The products include Microsoft Office, SQL, Reporting Services, Windows Server, SharePoint Server, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and LINKFresh. Extensive use is made of Web Services while the advanced mobility applications were developed using the Windows .NET Framework. 

For Further information contact:
Anglia Business Solutions Ltd
Harston Mill
CB22 7GG

Tel: +44 (0)1223 873400
Fax: +44 (0)1223 873401


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