sudhoff technik increasing transparency with Tablet PCs

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Thanks to Document Management, the company sudhoff technik has greatly improved workflows in its warehouse. Employees in Quality Control are also using Tablet PCs to access the central document pool. Above all, this wholesaler of custom rubber, plastic and aluminum products has been able to significantly improve its customer service with the help of DocuWare.

We are definitely considered pretty unique as a dealer of production connection supplies, particularly in terms of the shipping and warehousing methods we use, admits Guenter Morschhauser, IT Director for sudhoff technik GmbH based in Ulm, Germany. Everything we ship to our customers first goes through our own Quality Control department. Smaller suppliers arent always able to provide the high level of quality expected by our customers, so we take over that controller role. As an additional service, we bundle together products in our warehouse from different suppliers to fulfill our customers very specific needs. We handle a large part of their logistics, vastly simplifying our customers manufacturing processes.

Providing these services helps fulfill the companys own goal of providing quality as well as a broader portfolio for its customers. We work with highly specialized, often very small vendors. Because of limited resources and experience, they might not be able to maintain the high level of quality required by our customers. So we add that extra step of quality control, explains Morschhauser. And to extend their services, he adds, based on a customers requirements, we bundle together all kinds of products that can come from all over right in our warehouse. This is only possible with a well-organized facility as well as intelligent electronic warehouse management and order processing.

Requirements and Organizational Framework

When the company decided to build a new logistics center based on modern warehousing principles, they approached it by dividing up storage from administration. We had to find new ways to handle our accounting records and booking processes in our Microsoft Axapta ERP System. Specifically, we looked at how to provide wider electronic access for Administration to shipping slips as well shipment status. At the same time, we wanted to get rid of our ineffective and space-robbing method of storing paper documents.

Connecting all of these concepts was the creation of a central DocuWare archive. Implementing this document management system (DMS) was handled in phases according to the different types of records processed, beginning with those generated in the Shipping area here the potential for quickly improving efficiencies in their processes was considered largest. Shipping slips for outgoing packages were previously pre-sorted by serial number and then placed in paper folders. Since the slips would return for filing at different times after a shipment was completed, the sorting process was tedious and ripe for errors. If a customer called to track a shipment, an employee in the warehouse would have to waste time to go through all of this documentation to find the answer.

The Solution

New Process

Today, outgoing shipping slips are stored right after a shipment leaves. Using a powerful Panasonic KV-S2026C Scanner, they are captured as a stack and stored in a central document pool. With a self-programmed software module, a message is automatically sent in real-time to their ERP system. To answer customer queries about a delivery date, employees can check within their Microsoft Axapta system with a few mouseclicks if their shipment has left the facility. More detailed information about the shipment can be accessed from the central document pool, such as information about the exact time a shipment left or the shipping method used.

Considering the approximately 70,000 outgoing shipping records and about 60,000 outgoing invoices (accounts payables), IT Specialist Morschhauser has said the economies of scale achieved through the new system has been enormous. Not only the huge mountain of paper has disappeared many of these outgoing documents had forms containing three copies! But because of the higher level of transparency throughout our warehousing processes, we are now saving at least 3.5 hours of precious work time per day.

Workflow with Tablet PCs

On the receiving side, they are also now scanning all records directly upon a shipments arrival. In a window set up in the ERP System, employees in Administration and Quality Control are informed when shipments are received. This electronic shipment is then electronically labeled with the status of Not Checked and may not be booked until it has been authorized by Quality Control. They may release the shipment by shifting the status to Ready for Booking or if the quality is questionable they can change the status to Remains Locked. Only when Quality Control releases the goods can they be booked and made available to sell and ship to customers. The entire process is guided by the status as it is recorded in DocuWare. The programs module CONTENT-FOLDER keeps the documents in the workflow together in virtual folders which are kept on the Windows Desktop. Depending on status, shipping records are then automatically moved into certain folders.

The standard products or those contained in the catalog of sudhoff technik form an exception to the process. They are directly booked in the ERP System upon receipt. Their shipping slips (like the custom products) are also scanned and electronically filed. These incoming deliveries are only checked for completeness. A pass through Quality Control is far more detailed. Using Acer Tablet PCs, employees are not only given cable-free access to the ERP system, they can also access the central document pool. Specific plans for analyzing each custom product are stored in electronic folders, some even with photographs and graphics. These checklists also contain notes regarding properties such as color or the look of various parts. All of the archived data, which includes the shipping documents from the warehouse and the checklists mentioned above, are stored on a central RAID system. In order to seamlessly backup the RAID data, file cabinets are set up in partitions suitable for DVD storage, another standard feature supported by DocuWare.

Result

Overall, Guenter Morschhausers experience has been very positive: Based on the significant increases in efficiency and savings made from eliminating a space-taking paper archive, we expect that the 57,000 Euro investment (software 37,000, hardware 13,000, consulting 7,500) that we made in our DMS will be amortized within two years.

The Task

Electronically store incoming documents and approx. 130,000 outgoing proof-of-shipping slips and invoices

Integrate Tablet PCs

Integrate Microsoft Axapta

Significantly improve processes

The Benefits

Paper archive eliminated

Time savings

Transparent workflows

Enhanced customer service

Appointed Modules

DocuWare

ACTIVE IMPORT

AUTOINDEX

CONTENT-FOLDER

RECOGNITION

"Not only has our mountain of paper disappeared, but the increased transparency of our warehousing processes are saving at least 3.5 hours of work time per day".  Guenter Morschhauser, IT/Organization Director,sudhoff technik.

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