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Modernizing Applications to the Cloud, Saving $188K Annually

West Fraser sets sight on cloud-based applications to increase their mill productivity, using technology to set themselves apart.

  • 5,000+ employees across Canada and the United States
  • West Fraser is a Quesnel, BC-based lumber producer setting pace across North America as one of the largest lumber producers
  • West Fraser owes their growth to their disciplined operational focus in their facilities and cost-conscious manufacturing approach

Challenge

  • Technology was no longer a competitive differentiator for West Fraser running on older, legacy platforms.

  • Processes and data issues were negatively impacting productivity and weakening their ability to respond to competitive pressures in their operations.

  • West Fraser was using Lotus Notes to manage emails, RFPs, customer & vendor quotes was challenged in finding people to work on the high-maintenance software already costing them CAD$200,000 on sustainment costs alone.

  • With such volatile changes in lumber markets, West Fraser’s need to adapt quickly to keep their mills running and employees working, calling for an infrastructure system that would scale up-and-down alongside.

Solution

  • Softlanding began with rolling up their sleeves by becoming heavily involved in working on the shop floors and mills to learn where West Fraser Mills’ digital transformation can begin.

  • Working with West Fraser’s stakeholders, Softlanding reviewed West Fraser’s legacy applications to identify areas of improvement including replacements to their: Root Cause Investigation for tracking and analyzing events that occur in their facilities, Capital Costs Management System for tracking projects and ensuring compliance is met and Sandbox Solutions to facilitate SharePoint Online sites.

  • Softlanding architected a new identity strategy to help engage thousands of hourly workers using a technology portal

  • Migrated dozens of on-premises, mission-critical applications like Lotus Notes into SharePoint Online and Azure

The Results

No Maintenance of Platforms and Hardware

Working with Softlanding, West Fraser was able to reduce their sustainment costs for Lotus Notes alone from CAD $200,000/year to less than $1,000/month

Customized Azure-based Applications

Mindful of West Fraser’s dynamic workforce and specific needs, Softlanding was able to customize their cloud-based apps to meet the needs of their mill workers and internal staff’s needs

Reduced Financial Risk

Switching from capital expense to an operating expense was an attractive option for West Fraser when looking to test the viability of a custom-built application. With no upfront investment in hardware and no commitment, Azure proposed a lower financial risk that the lumber producer could stomach.

Agility and Scale

With their applications now based on Azure, West Fraser is able to scale up or down their applications based on needs and cycles in their business. 

"Our cost management is critical to our success. When lumber markets change, it means we can adapt quickly to keep our mills running and our employees working."
Ray Ferris
Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, West Fraser

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