The COVID-19 pandemic has meant significant changes across all industries, with travel limited and person-to-person contact restricted almost completely. For Consafe Logistics, site visits for upgrades and implementations were the norm, so when the pandemic hit, the business quickly had to adapt to the new normal. This meant less travel, less face-to-face contact, and a new, innovative approach to remote implementation.

Communicating effectively online is easier than ever, with a wide range of apps available and an internet that is quicker and more reliable than ever. However, for Consafe Logistics it was the norm to visit sites in person to implement new functionalities and upgrades to Astro WMS, so doing these remotely is a significant change. For many customers, this change has worked surprisingly well.

“We’d planned the launch earlier,” says Leif Gustafsson, System Specialist for HKScan, “but circumstances made that a little more difficult. Initially, Consafe Logistics were going to visit our site, but the restrictions meant that wasn’t possible. However, we still wanted to make the upgrade as soon as possible, so we decided to go for a remote implementation.”

Remote implementation presents new challenges, but it can also be more convenient for both Consafe Logistics and the users, as long as the solution works well for both parties. Over this period, Consafe Logistics has carried out a number of remote implementations, and all of them varied in how the communications were handled, and how the meetings were organised.

When implementing in Rexel, for example, everything was mostly arranged like an ordinary face-to-face meeting.

“We wanted to recreate the feeling of sitting together in the warehouse or office,” says Thomas Grüner, project manager for logistics in Rexel. “We set up meetings in Microsoft teams and made sure everyone was using their cameras, and we had the room open so people could come and go as they pleased, just as in a physical meeting. It felt like a normal meeting in some ways.”

It wasn’t only communication that was a point to consider, but also how to handle systems access. This can be done a number of ways, one of which was to utilize VPN technology so that Consafe Logistics experts could access the full system of a customer from distance. All of this made the process of remote implementation more convenient than ever before, but the key to success is in the implementation itself.

Test for success

Remote implementations have been going smoothly, and much of that is because of preparation work carried out beforehand alongside thorough testing of new implementations in test environments.

“We were going to have people on site for the upgrade,” says Petra Karlsson, logistics development manager for Momentum Group Services, “but because of the foundations we had laid throughout the year we could carry out the upgrade more efficiently, which allowed for remote implementation. It was a very good workflow, and we had a schedule which detailed when each stakeholder needed to be involved, and what they needed to do. Everything went to plan and was implemented as scheduled.”

“You have to be prepared in advance for this to work,” Petra adds. “Testing is essential, and you need to be aware of issues that might occur at critical points in the integration. It’s important to do all of this in advance, and Arthur Rosa, our contact Application Consultant at Consafe Logistics, did a great job.”

For all customers who have opted for a remote implementation, testing has always result in an almost seamless integration. The installations have gone very smoothly, which paves the way for more remote work in the future.

“Both of our remote installations went very smoothly,” confirms Johan Petersson, CIO at AJ Products. “There are always a few small issues, but they’re fixed quickly. Whether we do remote implementations in the future will depend somewhat on the complexity, but I think being on site is not always as necessary now, as long as you have skilled people available.”

A growing trend

For many, remote working has become the new normal. It presents a different set of challenges, but with the right team and the right preparations it can actually be better for customers and Consafe Logistics alike.

“I think we’ll do more remote upgrades and implementations in the future, regardless of other factors,” adds Thomas. “Our remote implementations were such a success and I think we should try to do more in the future. We saw we become more flexible, and it’s better for the environment as there’s less travel and less emissions.”

New challenges always lead to new solutions, and together with its customers, Consafe Logistics has found optimal ways to ensure that Astro WMS users all over the world continue to benefit from all of the latest innovations and implementations.