Linfox drives business development with virtual smart board

Getting staff across multiple sites to contribute in business development meetings has become easier for Melbourne-based logistics firm, Linfox, following its trial of an iPhone application called Innoboard.

Linfox, which has offices in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, wanted staff in disparate locations working closely on team projects, while at the same time reducing travel costs. The company has a stated goal of cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2015, based on 2007 levels.

Using an iPhone connected to a projector, the application can be projected on to a flat surface, creating what is known as a virtual smart board. Staff can use the smartphone to take photos of drawings and notes on the board and e-mail them to other sites via a secure broadband connection.

The application, developed by SAP, integrates with the vendor’s document sharing software as a service (SaaS) offering, StreamWork, which means the notes can be saved for review.

At present, the application is only available for the iPhone but Linfox also uses Windows 7 and Android smartphones and there are plans to roll out the application on these platforms in the future.

Linfox chief information officer, John Ansley, says that prior to the development of Innoboard, it had used Cisco’s WebEx online conferencing system for meetings.

Now, the company has been able to work together in what Ansley calls a “more dynamic and interactive” way. However, the company will continue to use WebEx for some meetings. “We have a team of four users within Linfox assisting with the research and development phase,” he says. “The application itself has been impressive and the work the SAP research team is putting into it is showing incremental development on a fortnightly basis.”

In addition to using the application for strategy meetings, the company is planning what is known as value stream mapping for projects that run across sites in Australia.

Ansley explains that value stream mapping is part of the ‘Lean’ toolset developed by car manufacturer, Toyota, to improve the quality of its cars. “This relies on the first line process workers being involved in process improvement projects that enhance quality, productivity and the speed to market of products,” he says.

The application was developed in April 2011 by SAP Research at the Future Logistics Living Lab, a facility at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. Linfox is a founding partner of the lab.

“Innoboard is the first project Linfox has been involved with, but we are currently in discussions with SAP about two other projects that will be announced in the near future,” Ansley says. The company has worked with SAP for 12 years and uses the vendor’s software in administration, human resources, distribution centres and transport operations.

It is currently undertaking a pilot project for SAP’s extended Warehouse Management and Transport Management 8 offerings — a project the organisation expects to be completed by December 2011.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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