Seattles Port Authority Turns To Provia

May 17, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — It’s getting so that accounts of the spread of Provia software are beginning to read like CNN reports on Northern Alliance progress in Afghanistan.

Provia’s latest victory site appears to be Seattle, bringing to more than 500 the number of major installations that its software serves in the western hemisphere.

In late October, the Grand Rapids-based software developer announced that its logistics software now is serving Port of Seattle, the port authority responsible for goods entering and leaving Seattle’s docks and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Provia reports that the port authority is using several products integrated in the company’s ViaWare software suite.

The firm lists those software products as WMS (warehouse management), OMS, (order management), YMS (yard management) and SPS (small parcel shipping).

The function of those programs, according to Provia, is to increase inventory accuracy, speed the passage of products through the facility, and to increase the overall efficiency of the port’s logistics operations.

Ken Lewis, Provia’s president and CEO, said the ViaWare suite enables the port authority “to offer customers better service, better value and increased visibility to inventory and order information.”

To give an idea of the Seattle operation’s scope, Provia says the port authority operates more than 1.5 million square feet of warehousing, and the movement through and storage in them of thousands of products.

The goods in question, according to Provia, range from machined products to clothing, toys to electronics and house wares, and recreational equipment up to and including motorcycles.

The port also is responsible for movement and storage of hundreds of varieties of perishable goods and foods, most of them requiring narrow degrees of refrigeration from chilling to rock-solid freezing.

The key to the operation is the way Provia’s ViaWare suite integrates not only within itself, but also within the systems that the port’s clients operate. The meshing of those disparate systems allows customers to send order information to Port of Seattle’s order management system.

Once reviewed, it’s directed to the warehouse management system, which assembles, labels and ships the orders while also sending the complete data back to OMS (order management), whence it is sent to the customer.

Centek Associates, a West Coast consultant and integrator of supply chain execution systems worked with the port authority to select and implement Provia’s software.

The firm told Provia that it was the only vendor able to provide the port the advanced levels of control required to fully integrate the management of the port’s waterfront and airport operations.

The Provia implementation is part of a larger three-business initiative for the port, which also is using IBM as a consultant.

Provia indicated speed of implementation was a concern because one of the port’s biggest customers — a large manufacturer of retail goods — depended upon having a smoothly flowing port operation up and running before the busy holiday season was in full swing.

The firm subsequently indicated that four weeks after Port of Seattle brought ViaWare into use that it was able to be a full production. “We’re accurately keeping track of critical inbound and outbound order information,” the firm acknowledged, “and we’re getting products out the door and to customers quickly.”

Among other prominent clients of Provia are third-party logistics firms such as Canadian National, Gillette, Spencer Gifts, Lanier Worldwide and Ferguson Enterprises.

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