S. Abraham & Sons Stocks Up on SOA for Supply Chain Success

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S. Abraham & Sons Stocks Up on SOA for Supply Chain Success

NEW YORK -- S. Abraham & Sons Inc., a wholesale distributor specializing in the food industry, has chosen iWay SOA Middleware to deliver a strategic service-oriented integration infrastructure to meet increasingly demanding business needs. Innovative use of iWay's comprehensive enterprise integration product suite has enabled S. Abraham & Sons to make its entire IT infrastructure more open, flexible, and easily aligned with business requirements, helping the organization address the dynamic consumer market.

Thousands of convenience, grocery and drugstores throughout the Midwest rely on S. Abraham & Sons to keep their shelves well-stocked with a variety of consumer goods such as candy, chips and ice cream. To meet the needs of its growing customer base, S. Abraham & Sons built a modern warehouse facility to expand delivery-route capabilities and ensure on-time delivery of goods. Family owned and operated for more than 75 years, S. Abraham & Sons distributes consumer convenience products such as consumer foods, refrigerated and frozen foods, candy, tobacco, health and beauty care, general merchandise and store supplies. For three generations, S. Abraham & Sons has provided distribution services to convenience, grocery and drugstores in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

To stay ahead of the mounting competitive pressures, S. Abraham & Sons implemented a warehouse management solution (WMS) to increase productivity and simplify operations by transforming a manually intensive pick-and-pack operation into an efficient, automated distribution warehouse. To make sure long-standing legacy systems that ran day-to-day supply chain and business operations and the new Windows-based WMS system spoke the same language, S. Abraham & Sons chose iWay SOA Middleware to address critical infrastructure and business requirements.

"We had two very different systems in place and business executives knew that in order to continue to provide the exemplary service our customers are accustomed to, we needed a high-return, low-cost method to make the systems interoperate," said Kathy Beukema, IT project manager at S. Abraham & Sons. "iWay SOA Middleware allowed us to do just that without the typical complexity associated with SOA deployments. With iWay, we can now leverage existing IT assets and integrate them with new initiatives such as the warehouse project to create powerful, reusable business services and drive corporate performance to the next level."

Before iWay, S. Abraham was challenged with how to keep the inventory from each warehouse facility up to date in both systems and ensure proper coordination between disparate data sources and formats. Managing approximately 15,000 unique types of inventory in its warehouses for 6,000-plus customers at any point in time, S. Abraham & Sons previously handled all inbound and outbound orders manually and on an AS/400 system. Most customer orders came in handheld, wireless TELXON units and were then filtered through the AS/400 system to create the complete customer order for employees to pack, load, and ship -- resulting in human errors and process kinks that decreased productivity and efficiency. S. Abraham & Sons needed a way to solve the business problem without adding an intense IT headache -- resulting from custom coding and processing the translation of information between the old AS/400 system and the new Windows-based WMS software meant to streamline day-to-day operations.

Reducing integration complexity and eliminating the need for costly custom integration code, iWay enabled S. Abraham & Sons to rapidly uncover real business value. Now, iWay automatically handles the data cleansing, transformation, manipulation and mapping of the data with a user-friendly iWay Service Designer workbench for a hassle-free way to create service interfaces for all types of business processes. Errors have been significantly reduced through the seamless integration between the AS/400 system and the new WMS software package from Manhattan Associates, which handles both receiving and outbound order processing. S. Abraham & Sons now has confidence in the accurate and continuous information exchange between all three sites and all IT systems, including the company's long-time IBM systems and newly implemented WMS.

With iWay SOA Middleware, S. Abraham & Sons is able to significantly streamline processing operations to glean significant productivity and efficiency gains both on the road and in the back-office.

In the future, S. Abraham & Sons plans to roll out an Electronic Data Invoicing (EDI) integration project with iWay as the foundation. Customers and vendors already use EDI to exchange information and process order transactions through specialized VANs, but with iWay SOA Middleware S. Abraham & Sons plans to integrate the existing back-office systems and EDI to minimize maintenance and devolvement of EDI transactions and reduce the number of needed VANs.

"S. Abraham and Sons, Inc. is a true mid-size innovator with a long-standing history of implementing cutting-edge technology in anticipation of customer needs and competitive spirit," said John Senor, president of iWay Software. "With iWay as the foundation for their business freedom and flexibility, we hope to aggressively address their most complex integration challenges to help shape their IT and business processes for continued organizational growth."