ELI WMS: Reinventing logistics with App Engine and Google APIs

About ELI WMS

Originally developed in 2017 for Saccheria Fratelli Franceschetti, ELI WMS is an independent SaaS warehouse management solution that makes industrial logistics simple. With minimal overheads, ELI integrates with existing hardware to make shipping more efficient. More about ELI WMS at www.eliwms.com

Industries: Technology
Location: Italy

About Noovle

Noovle is a strategic ICT and Cloud consultancy based in Italy, France, Switzerland and Slovakia with more than 1,000 clients and with a team of over 100 people. Founded in 2013, the company is one of the top 50 Google Cloud premier partners in the world. A reliable partner and a Digital System Integrator, Noovle supports enterprises throughout the whole process, from initial planning to Change Management. Figures and valuable partnerships closed over the years witness its capabilities.

Using Google Cloud Platform and some inspired lateral thinking, a small team at a mid-size Italian company created a groundbreaking warehouse management system with uses far beyond their original goals.

Google Cloud Results

  • Created a warehouse management system that integrates with legacy hardware
  • Adapts to local working practices with translation and voice picking options thanks to Google APIs
  • Scales to meet demand with no need for hardware investment with App Engine and autoscaling

In 1939, in the north Italian town of Provaglio d’Iseo, Luigi Franceschetti set up a small business producing burlap sacks. More than seven decades later, Saccheria Fratelli Franceschetti, the family firm he created, is the third-largest manufacturer of industrial bags in Europe, with a global distribution network from Holland and Italy to Turkey, China, and Vietnam.

Three years ago, Luigi Franceschetti’s grandchildren, Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti and Luisa Franceschetti began looking at the company’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) that controls this global network. “We uncovered an IT setup that was less than adequate,” explains Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti, co-founder at ELI WMS. “The IT was old, and there were so many opportunities to be more efficient in collaboration and stock management that were simply being wasted. We needed a new WMS, and because we wanted to keep hardware costs down, we looked for a fully cloud solution that would connect with our legacy services. Unfortunately, the one company we found that could offer that was not prepared to work in Italy.”

According to Saccheria Franceschetti, transportation efficiencies created by ELI resulted in an almost 9% increase in revenue in 2016

That’s when Luigi and Luisa teamed up with engineer Ignazio Ingenito to build their own warehouse solution, designed to be flexible, cloud-based, multilingual, and based on Google Cloud Platform products. ELI WMS was born.

“We designed ELI as a full cloud system from the start, so our customers don’t have to install new servers or any infrastructure. All they need is a web browser, or, if a company uses RFID, an RFID gun.”

Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti, co-founder, ELI WMS

“We had worked with G Suite for two years with our partner Noovle, and had come to love the way Google develops things, always three steps ahead of the rest. When we started writing ELI WMS in Python, we knew we wanted to build it in Google App Engine,” says Luigi.

High efficiency, low overheads

International logistics networks rely on accurate information being sent to individual shippers, warehouses and companies. ELI WMS has been created to make creating, conveying and keeping track of that information much easier for all parties. That means companies can explore efficiencies that were previously impossible. “Instead of buying individual transport spaces from agencies, we can pay half as much by renting an entire vehicle and organising the transport ourselves,” explains Luigi. Better communications mean companies can even sell goods in transit, then shift them directly from one vehicle to another, minimising the amount they spend on warehouse space.

Introducing new IT can be hard, however, as Luigi explains. “Unfortunately in Italy, legacy systems are very bad, so if you come up with a solution that asks people to change their ERP or install new hardware, most companies, including almost all small- to medium-sized enterprises, will not make the investment to get that done.”

That’s why the ELI team chose Google Cloud Platform. “ELI is built on App Engine,” says Ignazio. “So all our forklift operators can access the app from their tablets in HTML without installing anything.” Now thanks to Google’s cloud infrastructure, all that’s required to set up a warehouse with ELI is a tablet and an RFID gun, while autoscaling means the system can maximise efficiency and availability. Ignazio continues: “We anticipated that integrating App Engine, which is the latest in innovation and technology, with the oldest legacy systems would be very difficult. Google Cloud Platform allows us to speak with legacy, so people can use ELI without changing their infrastructure or their ERP.”

“We developed this for Saccheria, but it can be used to plan the transportation of any material. With App Engine we can set up and demonstrate our solution for anyone, wherever they need it. All that’s required is a tablet and a cheap RFID gun. And thanks to Google, our solution is very fast to deploy and very cheap to operate," says Luigi.

“Google Cloud Platform’s pricing and compatibility make our product much more affordable than its alternatives. We make no hardware demands, can scale almost instantly with App Engine, offer fast worldwide coverage, make use of brilliant Google APIs, and integrate with legacy systems, all at a fraction of the cost of other warehouse management services.”

Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti, co-founder, ELI WMS

Discovering APIs

Google’s APIs give us so many ideas,” says Luigi. Connecting the Google Maps API to ELI helps managers arrange shipments based on urgency, location and traffic conditions. Using the Google Cloud Translation API, ELI is made available to warehouse teams worldwide, by automatically translating the UI to match local preferences. And soon the ELI team plans to use the Google Cloud Natural Language API to enable voice picking in warehouses for workers with headsets. “If we were to enable voice picking through other available services, we would have to pay a lot for that extra feature and work to integrate it in our application,” says Luigi. “With Google’s APIs, the technology is immediately available, affordable, and integrates perfectly with our existing system."

“Noovle have introduced us to a range of Google’s APIs. They are a fantastic partner. Firstly, they close support tickets very fast, so we know they’re always on hand. Secondly, we know that whenever Noovle see something that could help us, they come in to show us a hands-on demonstration of the new tool. They’re honest about information, so we always feel they’re trying to help us, not make a sale,” says Luisa Franceschetti, co-founder, at ELI WMS.

Becoming a business

According to Luigi, Saccheria Franceschetti’s earnings increased by almost 9% last year, “not due to higher sales, but from transport savings, thanks to ELI.” In the wake of ELI’s success at Saccheria, other companies, moving everything from textiles, to car parts, to alcohol, are signing up for the new SaaS warehouse management system.

“People came to visit our company, saw ELI, asked where it came from, and we had to tell them we made it ourselves. Straight away, they would ask if it was for sale. As strange as it sounds, that’s how ELI became a business in itself. We saw Google’s Cloud Platform tools and we found a way to use them. That’s it.”

About ELI WMS

Originally developed in 2017 for Saccheria Fratelli Franceschetti, ELI WMS is an independent SaaS warehouse management solution that makes industrial logistics simple. With minimal overheads, ELI integrates with existing hardware to make shipping more efficient. More about ELI WMS at www.eliwms.com

Industries: Technology
Location: Italy

About Noovle

Noovle is a strategic ICT and Cloud consultancy based in Italy, France, Switzerland and Slovakia with more than 1,000 clients and with a team of over 100 people. Founded in 2013, the company is one of the top 50 Google Cloud premier partners in the world. A reliable partner and a Digital System Integrator, Noovle supports enterprises throughout the whole process, from initial planning to Change Management. Figures and valuable partnerships closed over the years witness its capabilities.

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