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100 Days to go – Nexus System Update

100 Days to Go until Nexus is Released

Nearing the end of a two-year project to upgrade the current system, the introduction of Nexus to the whole Pall-Ex network is fast approaching.

With 100 days to go until the next major upgrade in Pall-Ex’s software systems, Pall-Ex’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Dave Dunhill, answers some questions and provides some insight into the build of Nexus.

What will be the main benefits of changing to Nexus?

From my initial audit, it was evident that the Core Operating System (COS), called Twine, was a severe limitation within the business. It also had limitations for members and customers alike.

To get robust IT systems in place, we needed a solid system foundation to build on. Nexus is this secure foundation to allow us to build even further.

Previously, our IT foundation (Twine) was not sturdy, it fell over every now and again, and then everything around it fell. I associate it with a leaning tower, with more layers being added to the top, but at some point, you have to make a decision to rebuild the foundations.

With 100 days to go before launch, how do you feel about where Nexus is at the moment?

We are in a really good place considering the challenges we have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety and wellbeing of our staff was paramount, and we had to focus on the core operational side of the business.

The team have been outstanding throughout these past few months. We had to move the project launch to September, this is a relatively small set-back and I’m confident that after the initial UK launch, we shouldn’t see any further delays.

What has been the most challenging element of the Nexus project?

The global pandemic was a huge shock to everyone, and it was challenging throughout the initial weeks as we started to work from home and had to adjust to the new way of working together on the project.

Overall, Nexus took a year to scope out and a year to develop it. When you are on such a long project, it’s easy to get side-tracked with other business requirements. Remembering our overall goal is key because if we side-track, it’s going to take longer. This has involved constantly reminding people where we want to get to and what we can achieve.

What are the main changes compared to TWINE?

The changes that I believe will have the most impact are the business rules that have been inserted to control the flow of data.

For example, if you want to send a pallet from Leicester to the Outer Hebrides, within the current system the validation is weak. In the Nexus system we’ve spent a lot of time building in validation checks to improve service, therefore removing the possibility to enter any void services, improving accuracy.

The invoicing models are now very, very quick. The invoicing used to take hours on Twine, and it’ll now take 5-10 minutes on Nexus. This means significant time reductions in batch processes.

We’ve introduced some everyday functional features too, such as integration with Google Maps. The user interface means everything is on hand, in the current screen, in one place. You don’t have to go into multiple places for all the information you need.

How did the showcase go at the Pall-Ex Awards Event in February?

The amount of interest and engagement in the product was amazing to see. The footfall on the stand was in abundance. It’s fantastic to see people get excited about something you are creating.

What was your team's process/workflow for creating a market-leading system?

The success in this was the scoping phase, as well as the buy-in from the senior management team, partners and members around the timescales to achieve what was required. We also brought in a specialist role to bridge the gaps between IT and pallet networks, and not just at Pall-Ex. This role was to project manage and paint the picture between the developers and the business. Plus, regularly communicating with everyone and working extremely hard was key, we’re very fortunate to have a very good team.

Is there anyone else in the industry/competitors that are anywhere close to the level of technology Pall-Ex provides?

I don’t think we’re far off being leaders in the sector. Nexus will enable us to build upon our IT offering quickly, and fully excel in a way that others will struggle to keep up with.

Others are building on old legacy products, and we’ve made a bold decision to rebuild an incredible foundation from scratch.

What would the impact be on members and customers without Nexus?

We implemented MyNexus in November 2018, and just giving this small piece of the Nexus package to the network showed me that what we created would give all stakeholders the tools to enhance their businesses.

It’s been a key factor to member recruitment and has enabled our members and corporate sales team to secure new business both in the B2B and B2C markets.

What comes after Nexus? Any plans for the months following the launch?

As well as the European rollout of Nexus, additional modules are planned to be implemented over a period of time: NexusScan, NexusGo and NexusETA are among the first. This involves rewriting our scanning systems, designing, and implementing timed arrivals, which are the two things that will quickly add lots of value.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved so far and conscious that we need to keep our feet firmly on the floor until we’ve delivered the project!

You can keep up to date on the Nexus launch here or the monthly update videos which are on our YouTube Channel. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a shareholder member, simply get in touch and our team will be able to answer any queries you may have. Alternatively, check out our member case studies for more insight into what it’s like to be a member at Pall-Ex.