Customer Stories / Transport & Logistics
SF Supply Chain China Offers Smart Supply Chain Solutions on Amazon Web Services
SF Supply Chain China (SFDSC) is a leading supply chain service provider co-branded by SF and DHL, covering the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao. In 2019, SFDSC deployed a standalone digital-intelligent portal on Amazon Web Services, and further leveraged Amazon Web Services' serverless solutions and launched the digital-intelligent portal as SaaS using Amazon EKS , allowing customers of all sizes from different industries to subscribe to its services. Amazon services used include Amazon EC2 , Amazon S3 , Amazon SQS , Amazon EKS, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon WAF, and Elastic Load Balancing.
SF Supply Chain China (SFDSC) is a leading supply chain service provider co-branded by SF and DHL, covering the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao. Headquartered in Shanghai, it has over 7,000 employees and offers high-caliber supply chain solutions to customers in the automotive, retailing, manufacturing and engineering, life science and health care, spare parts logistics, consumer goods, high technology, and transportation sectors. Over the past years, the company has been seeking to tap the synergy of technology, customer resources, transporting capacity, equipment, and infrastructure input, to equip customers with the integrated supply chain solutions empowered by the Internet, cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Opportunity | Rationalizing Logistics Campus Operation
Supply chain operation and management involve orchestrating en route transportation, in-campus flow, and ex-campus transportation. Any delay on one link may disrupt the entire supply chain. Logistics campus, as the pivot in a supply chain, requires refined management. For business management, unpredictable truck arrival times, long queues at the entrance, inexplicit indication of internal passages, and traffic congestion result in less efficient in-campus flow. This can be aggravated by rigid logistics scheduling, absence of data on transporting capacity, unscheduled loading/unloading duration, and poor quality of manual data entries. In addition, multi-industry corporate customers have complicated business structures, and supply chain solutions have to be tailored to their needs. These pose challenges in logistics campus management, including error-prone and inefficient manual processes.
In 2019, SFDSC deployed the standalone digital-intelligent portal on Amazon Web Services. This system addressed the problems ailing the supply chain by improving campus management efficiency. For example, the digital-intelligent portal offers an integrated management system, collecting data through front-end devices including cameras, IoT devices, geomagnetic detectors, and multi-mode radars, and uploading the data to the cloud. There, the service platform processes data based on business logic, and continuously optimizes vehicle scheduling and shift arrangement algorithms through cumulative learning of historical data, thus improving campus operation and efficiency.
As the project progressed, SFDSC hoped to transform the digital-intelligent portal into a SaaS, to rapidly meet the customization needs of different industry-leading customers. It could also attract long-tail customers with simpler demands and guide them to adopt best practices in supply chain management. However, the company’s IT & digital team faced two challenges: building business and function models and deciding which technical architecture is the best for tenant management and authentication functionalities.
Amazon Web Services, together with external partners and professional service providers, worked with the IT & digital team to structure the digital-intelligent port as SaaS using Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS). They abstracted and split the business modules to build the microservice-structured SaaS. This new architecture separates public modules like tenant management, authentication, message services, and middleware from the master multi-tenant module. The portal is capable of multi-tenant separation, superior data security, unified O&M, and rapid scaling. Xu Jiwei, Head of IT & Digital Innovation at SFDSC Greater China, says that “the SaaS-based construction of the digital-intelligent portal is more than an architectural innovation. It is about a new business model. From the traditional one-time delivery of standalone software to online service subscription, this transformation has increased user viscosity and empowered business innovation.”
“The portal is now useful in many scenarios, providing better services to SF Supply Chain China itself and a wide range of corporate customers,” adds Xu.
We have built the digital-intelligent portal as SaaS on Amazon Web Services. This system allows customers large and small from different industries to rapidly construct their own supply chain management systems by subscribing to online services. They are able to manage their supply chains more efficiently at lower cost.”
Head of IT & Digital Innovation, SFDSC Greater China
Solution | Enabling Digitalized and Smart Logistics Campus
The digital-intelligent system has smoothed the link between ex-campus transportation and in-campus flow, creating a digitalized and intelligent logistics campus. In 2020, SFDSC further leveraged Amazon Web Services’ serverless solutions and launched the digital-intelligent portal as SaaS using Amazon EKS, allowing customers of all sizes from different industries to subscribe to its services (Figure 1). Amazon Web Services used include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon EKS, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon WAF, and Elastic Load Balancing.
Figure 1 Digital-intelligent Portal SaaS Architecture on Amazon Web Services
“The rich combination of Amazon Web Services and tools and the superb support from the technical team let us rapidly develop, verify, and deploy solutions for different customer scenarios,” says Xu.
Outcome | Running as SaaS and Optimizing Costs
SFDSC has benefitted greatly in many aspects from working with Amazon Web Services. Technologically, SFDSC has rationalized its service flow and shortened the development of smart campus solutions and architecture from months to weeks. Also, Amazon Web Services’ secure and reliable platform and a wealth of readily applicable managed services helped optimize the deployment and management of IT resources.
The digital-intelligent portal as SaaS represents an innovation in SFDSC’s business model. The previous one-time development and delivery model is replaced by online service subscription, allowing different customers to choose and deploy functions that suit their actual needs. Also, customers may use standardized modules to build their own supply chain management system, improving management with a one-off investment.
According to Xu, “the increasing customer base of the digital-intelligent portal has promised a steady income flow, which in turn boosts our functionality development. The digital-intelligent portal runs as a SaaS platform for smart logistics campus management. It empowers many customers to achieve cost-efficiency with digitalized and smart solutions.”
Looking ahead, SFDSC will work with Amazon Web Services further to expand SaaS capacity and reduce the annual cost of each service. It will enhance the digital-intelligent portal with new services and functions, such as ARM-based computing, business intelligence, data lake, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to serve customers better.
About SF Supply Chain China
SF Supply Chain China is a leading supply chain solution provider co-branded by SF and DHL. Headquartered in Shanghai, it has more than 7,000 employees, providing services to customers in the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao.
Amazon Web Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) offers the broadest and deepest compute platform, with over 600 instances and choice of the latest processor, storage, networking, operating system, and purchase model to help you best match the needs of your workload.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
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Amazon EKS is a managed Kubernetes service to run Kubernetes in the Amazon cloud and on-premises data centers.
Amazon ElastiCache is a fully managed, Redis- and Memcached-compatible service delivering real-time, cost-optimized performance for modern applications.
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