More Quickly Delivered Than Ordered
The Westfalen Group controls the deliveries of its technical and medical gases using the transport management software OPHEO with the integrated telematics solution OPHEO Mobile. This software was extended in the course of the project to include a forecasting function that automatically predicts customers’ short-term needs. Therefore, Westfalen Group can supply its customers without them having to place an order and can always ensure a sufficient stock of goods.
In this industry, you cannot afford any supply bottlenecks: A large part of industrial production and, in some cases, even human lives depend on technical and medical gases. For that reason, errors in orders would have fatal consequences. With this in mind, major suppliers such as the Westfalen Group have developed efficient methods of predicting the needs of production plants and hospitals.
Most customer tanks now have sensors that measure the current fill level and send it directly to Westfalen via remote data transmission. “This technique will continue to become a market standard and requires innovative software solutions in the logistics chain”, Klaus Dieter Rose states, convinced. He is someone who certainly knows: at Westfalen, he is Head of Dispatching for bulk materials. Gas is not transported in cylinders, but in special tankers. The tankers are in operation around the clock, throughout Germany and several neighboring European countries.
A Significant Increase in Productivity
Since 2013, the Westfalen Group has been using initions AG’s transport management software OPHEO. During the selection process, this solution had prevailed against four competitors and was subsequently successfully introduced. “The key advantage of this solution was the high level of transparency and intelligent support for tour planning provided by the Dispatching Cockpit. But what was also an argument in favor of the system was the fact that OPHEO is a two-in-one solution that covers both transport management and telematics”, Rose recalls, adding: “It was, in any case, the right decision to make. Because by using this software, we were able to significantly reduce expenses compared to our previous dispatching system and further improve the quality of planning.”
The lower expenses result in higher productivity. “Since 2011, the number of tankers we are dispatching has increased significantly. Thanks to OPHEO, we were able to handle this additional workload with the existing staffing levels,” reports André Schneider, who heads Supply Chain Management at the Westfalen Group.
Besides its user-friendly operation, OPHEO also made a strong impression with the built-in telematics solution and the existing interface to the ERP system. And last, but not least, initions boasts great references from the industry. “OPHEO could fully map the dangerous goods requirements of the gases business”, Rose confirms.
Automatic Delivery Orders without Ordering
A forecasting feature added to OPHEO especially for Westfalen Group’s requirements extrapolates the stock in customers’ containers or tanks and thus determining the next delivery date. For this purpose, the current inventory data from the customer containers is collected several times a day and the further inventory development is forecast based on consumption calendars and previous data. At the end of the forecasting process, delivery orders for all customers with a short-term requirement are generated automatically. “This innovative function allows us to anticipate customer wishes and deliver the goods before a bottleneck can even arise. It really creates a tremendous advantage for us,” Rose explains.
OPHEO is therefore integrated in Westfalen’s ERP system via an interface. The ERP system provides OPHEO with the customer and article master data. Orders can be entered manually either in the ERP system or in OPHEO. The ERP checks the data, completes it by providing it with an order number and sends it back to OPHEO. This ensures an optimal interaction between the ERP system and OPHEO.
Mobile Dot Matrix Printers
Dispatchers plan their orders exclusively with OPHEO. The tours formed are transmitted to the vehicles equipped with mobile handhelds at the touch of a button. These devices feature the OPHEO-integrated telematics software OPHEO Mobile which allows for orders to be received and processed step by step.
One special feature is the connection to the dot-matrix printers carried in the vehicles which drivers can use on site to print out delivery notes with carbon copies, among other things. These printers are also used for creating shipping documents. Location data and each finalized order is sent to the central office via OPHEO Mobile. Afterwards, OPHEO exports the delivery note to the ERP system and triggers the following processes in quantity management and billing.
More Savings Potential
Speaking of: OPHEO is also used for billing. The same applies to the areas of workshop or container technology. All in all, many employees at Westfalen Group is already working with OPHEO, and more will follow. After all, there are still plenty of opportunities to be exploited. In a next step, the Westfalen Group wants to take advantage of further benefits of initions’ telematics solution. For example, Rose and want to sustainably reduce the trucks’ wear and tear as well as their diesel consumption, thus saving costs on diesel and repairs.
The Westfalen Group is confident with regard to the planned extensions. “initions’ project management is very professional and they are always committed—I haven’t experienced anything like that with other software companies,” André Schneider acknowledges. This is especially true for problem-solving during critical project phases. Klaus Dieter Rose expresses a similar opinion: “We have found the team at initions to be very solution-oriented and practical. Working with them is really fun!”
Background Information: Westfalen Group
As a technology company in the energy industry, the Westfalen Group operates internationally with a total of 22 subsidiaries and associated companies. More than 20 of its production sites are located in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Founded in 1923, the family-owned company operates in the fields of gases, energy supply and service stations and has its headquarters in Münster, Germany. With around 1,400 employees, the Westfalen Group generated sales of around € 1.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.
In the gases sector, Westfalen has grown from a regional supplier to a competence leader for technical gases on a European scale. Its products comprise several hundred gases and gas mixtures including medical gases, laboratory gases, industrial gases, welding and welding shield gases, food gases and refrigerants.
Background Information: initions AG
initions AG is a software development company based in Hamburg, Germany, specializing in intelligent, innovative solutions for planning and controlling. Its main focus is on transport management, optimization and business intelligence. “Innovative IT solutions” means that software solutions from initions are smart and think ahead: Mathematical algorithms analogous to nature are used to create optimized detailed plans. Intelligent routines check all changes to these plans for consistency and highlight errors and bottlenecks. This ensures optimal control of daily logistics planning. As early as 2001, the Founder’s Prize awarded by ZDF, McKinsey and Stern confirmed the uniqueness of this product idea.