"Good IT is invisible"
Logwin processes up to 200 orders per day at its Heppenheim facility for the internationally active chemical company Huntsman. Branchmanager Jörg Salzer and Jens Emrich, Manager Information Technology Solutions at Logwin, spoke with Martin Moser, Warehousing & Transport Manager Europe at Huntsman Textile Effects, about logistics and IT solutions in Heppenheim.
Jörg Salzer: We’ve been working together with our customer Huntsman now for over three years with great success. Initially, there was a call for tenders for a logistics company to operate the European Distribution Centre and we were given the nod. We have been delivering contract logistics services to Huntsman in our multi-user warehouse in Heppenheim since July 2007.
Martin Moser: The call for tenders was preceded by research we commissioned on how to optimise our international distribution further. The result was a central warehouse in the Mannheim-Frankfurt region to operate as a hub for the Europe/Africa region. The aim was to give up having local warehouses and supply our customers in France, Germany, Switzerland, the Benelux countries, Austria, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe directly from the new central location.
- Huntsman is one of the largest chemical companies
in the world. The operating companies of the group,
which is headquartered in Salt Lake City (USA),
produce raw materials for the chemical, automotive,
aviation and pharmaceutical industries, to name just
some. The product portfolio of Huntsman Textile
Effects includes primarily colourings, dyes and
water/fire resistant chemicals for the textile industry.
Huntsman employs over 11,000 staff at 80 locations
worldwide. In 2009, the company generated sales
of around US$ 8 billion.
Jörg Salzer: Consequently, the location of the new Huntsman European Distribution Centre was virtually perfect. Then we needed to find the perfect logistics and IT solution. Specifically, it’s always about knowing a customer’s precise requirements and what is important to him.
Martin Moser: As a chemical company, safety is our utmost priority – and that's what we expect from our service providers as well. They need to guarantee the highest possible safety standards at all times by having the requisite technical means and well trained staff accordingly. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the operational side must run without a hitch. In a nutshell, the requisitioned goods must be loaded onto the correct truck with the correct labels at the correct time.
- Martin Moser, Warehousing & Transport Manager
Europe by Huntsman Textile Effects
Jörg Salzer: You mentioned the core aspect of safety. In the practical sense this involves safety standards for handling and storing goods, as recently confirmed by a very satisfying SQAS assessment. In another sense, it’s also about process reliability. And that's where IT comes into it.
Martin Moser: The bottom line in my opinion is that a good IT solution should be invisible to the customer. As long as everything is working well, I see the whole thing as a black box. We felt it was important to be interfaced with Logwin’s WMS, to be able to rely on an existing IT solution with a good track record.
Jens Emrich: Networking was a two-stage procedure: Initially in 2007, connecting to the ERP BPCS (Business Planning and Control System) used by Huntsman at that time, and then migrating to SAP in 2009.
Martin Moser: Some interfaces still hadn’t been installed while we were working with the BPCS. Consequently, some orders were also being entered into our ERP system via the Huntsman hardware in Heppenheim. Now that SAP has been implemented, we are sending all transaction and master data via a single interface, so these days Logwin has no direct access to Huntsman’s SAP. Our system’s seamless communication with Logwin’s WMS – that’s what matters. Ultimately, the orders we are sending need to arrive in Heppenheim for processing unchanged. Of course, we also benefit directly for example when the transit time of goods is cut thanks to lean processing architecture.
- Branch Manager Jörg Salzer and Jens Emrich,
Manager Information Technology Solutions at Logwin
Jens Emrich: We are able to achieve this thanks to the intricately networked IT infrastructure in Heppenheim. Our core IT system solution is the ICAM warehouse management system. One of its special functions is the ability to control our fully automatic hazardous materials high bay warehouse. We manage all inward goods notifications using complex stock placement strategies, with outbound goods messages being processed automatically via our internal EDI competence centre. A basic part of this process is to distinguish between normal orders and samples being prepared and/or picked. Huntsman receives notification of the dispatch of goods via CIDX standard RDT. These are complex processes that are all mapped by the information technology.
Martin Moser: I’m extremely satisfied with the project to date and the interfaces are all working almost faultlessly. And as long as Logwin’s IT remains invisible here at Huntsman, that's a good sign isn’t it?
Since July 2007 Logwin has been providing contract logistics services to Huntsman Textile Effects in Heppenheim in its fully automated multi-user warehouse. Every day in Heppenheim between 150 and 200 orders are communicated via a single interface linking Huntsman’s SAP and Logwin’s WMS and then processed. The warehouse serves Huntsman Textile Effects as a central distribution centre for the Europe/Africa region. Orders received before 2 p.m. are even dispatched the same day to France, Germany, Switzerland, the Benelux countries, Denmark or Austria. Logwin also provides Huntsman with a range of value added services, including product labelling, sampling and the management of promotional samples. Logwin processes around 30,000 consignments per year.