“We haven’t even begun to see all the potential of the iPhone for our business.”
Revolutionising the supply chain
When a Fortune 500 company calls D.W. Morgan swings into action, lining up whatever means of transportation necessary — trucks, planes, ships, rails and even dogsleds, once — to move critical goods anywhere in the world.
In their business, one thing is crucial: knowing where the goods are at all times. But before iPhone, tracking deliveries was a logistical challenge.
“We always gave customers the information”, says President Grant Opperman. “But it took a lot of phone calls and a lot of individual effort. And between the time the driver took the signature and the time it was uploaded, there could be a 24-hour delay”.
Founder and CEO David Morgan wasn’t satisfied. “For years, we’d been looking for a mobile device that would allow us to update shipment information, collect signatures and get GPS tracking on every individual box we deliver”, he says. “Ten years ago, it was available, but it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars”. And that was for a non-customisable solution.
Then came iPhone and an application they created that revolutionised D.W. Morgan’s business.
“For $199, we can get an iPhone and make it work exactly how we want”, Morgan says. “I can go to almost any country, give my driver an iPhone, and he’s up and running”.
“We introduce the ability to eliminate stress from your supply chain. All enabled by the iPhone.”
An application in six weeks
That’s thanks to ChainLinq Mobile, an application developed in just six weeks by Binh Ly, D.W. Morgan’s Lead Developer.
“It’s like magic to me”, Ly says. “Without any experience making iPhone apps, we read the documentation and six weeks later we delivered this system that does exactly what we wanted for ten years”.
D.W. Morgan’s 30 drivers carry iPhone loaded with ChainLinq Mobile. As they make their shipments, drivers use the app to record pickups and status updates. When they reach their destination, they collect a signature on the iPhone screen. At each point, all status data — including a date stamp and a time-stamped GPS location pinpointed on a Google map — is uploaded instantly to D.W. Morgan’s servers, so customers can view it within seconds on the company’s website.
“We move critical inventory for some of the most high-value, complex supply chains in the world”, Opperman says. “For our customers, the information is as important — or sometimes even more important — than the actual goods inside the boxes”.
That’s because D.W. Morgan serves factories that use just-in-time delivery, where raw materials are conveyed to production lines shortly before they’re needed. “If your line is about to go down in the next 60-90 minutes”, Morgan explains, “you need to know exactly where the truck is”.
iPhone has allowed Morgan to take the guesswork out of supply chain management. And the stress. “It’s no longer a question of not knowing”, he says. “The iPhone enables the customer relationship to be out there for everybody to see. And the customer interaction goes from 24 hours to real time, which is unheard of in our industry”.
“Without any experience making iPhone apps, we read the documentation and six weeks later we delivered this system that does exactly what we wanted for ten years.”
Outpacing the big guys
With seven offices on four continents (and a fifth in the works), D. W. Morgan is always online and often tasked with a novel location for pickup or delivery. With iPhone in hand, that’s never a problem.
“If a customer needs us in the Czech Republic tomorrow, we can begin making deliveries in 24 hours with an iPhone”, Opperman says. “Or if we need to open an office in Guadalajara we get a couple of iPhones, fly down, and our entire staff is up and running in about a day”. Before iPhone, it took D.W. Morgan two to six months to open a new office.
This agility has given D.W. Morgan a competitive edge. “Technology has allowed us, a small company, to move and compete with the big guys. If I want to communicate with my office in Penang, it’s as easy as an Internet connection and an iPhone”.
Developer Ly has been amazed by ChainLinq’s ability to catapult Morgan ahead of its competitors. “We’re delivering something that’s not only totally new, but better than other solutions that look somewhat like it. Our competitors usually take about 20 minutes to half a day to provide the proof of delivery. We’re doing it in real time. And we built this in six weeks, while they’ve had years and years of experience building their systems”.
For Morgan, “The iPhone is not a game changer. It’s an industry changer. It changes the way that you can interact with your customers. It changes the way that you can interact with your suppliers. And it moves the idea of real time from a piece of paper onto the Internet. And that’s huge. Everybody will need to do this or be left behind”.
- 100 employees
- 7 office locations
- Headquarters in Pleasanton, California
- A Cisco Systems’ Growing With Technology Award winner.
A gateway technology
One unanticipated benefit of iPhone: introducing technology to workers who used to resist it. “I can give an iPhone to someone who’s working on the dock or to a truck driver”, Opperman says. “And that guy doesn’t necessarily think of it as a computer that’s intimidating. He thinks of it as, ‘Oh, it’s a phone, and it’s really cool because I can put my music on it and pictures of my family, and I can send emails and text messages’. And while he’s thinking about all of the neat things he can do, he’s also learning a piece of equipment that helps me run my business. And now I’ve got that person embracing technology and helping me figure out how we can use it better for our customers”.
Greening the supply chain
“When you’re moving things around in the supply chain, you’re using a huge amount of carbon”, Opperman says. But with iPhone, he has helped his clients reduce their environmental impact. “We had a customer shipping huge items from China to California by air, because on the ocean they couldn’t get the day-to-day tracking, right? Wrong”, he says. “We put those huge items in ocean containers and we gave the customer end-to-end visibility. They can see what they’re getting and when. What a great contribution not just to our bottom line, but to feel like we’re doing something good in the world”.