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iTracks has completely changed our way of working; the system has delivered visibility and control over our processes, which in turn has increased efficiency, improved productivity and enhanced our service to customers.
Wim Milder, Managing Director.
Broekman Corporate Division.
Part of the Broekman Group, Broekman Automotive operates an extensive Marine Terminal at the Port of Rotterdam. It is one of the largest vehicle importers and distributors in Europe, handling over ten different brands, many from the Far East, and processes volumes of up to 250,000 vehicles per annum. At the Terminal, Broekman Automotive offers a range of services from stevedoring to long term storage for around 40,000 cars. The company also provides PDI, damage inspection and rectification, homologation, specialist fitments and warranty work.
In such a complex and challenging environment, a sophisticated control system is essential, and as volumes grew, Broekman Automotive recognised that the system that had supported them for the previous fifteen years would not provide the necessary platform for the future.
We regularly audited the marketplace, looking at various systems available to us and this brought us to consider Vehent and iTracks, recalls Wim Milder, Managing Director of Broekman Corporate Division. Frankly, we were astonished when we saw what iTracks could do and within three to four months we had made the decision that it was time to change and agreed that iTracks was the right system for Broekman Automotive.
Broekman Automotives previous system was list based, providing user interfaces and handling a large volume of messaging from forwarding agents and suppliers. However, it was neither dynamic nor proactive, and was not designed to provide visibility across the entire operation. Accordingly, activities were not synchronised nor managed on a macro basis; each department operated as a separate silo, doing an excellent job in its own right, but independently of other activities. This in turn meant that use of time and resources were not optimised, resulting in reduced efficiency and higher costs.
To track individual vehicles would invariably mean phone calls around different departments, rather than instantly visible information, explains Steve Jones, Managing Director of Vehnet. Broekman Automotive personnel would only be able to see the whole picture as a snapshot once all data had been reconciled at the end of each day. This is actually a common way of working and a situation we encounter fairly often. Essentially, our brief was to move Broekman Automotive from an outdated, static and reactive system to a proactive, agile solution for the future.
Vehnets flexible, modular technology enabled them to build a configured solution for Broekman Automotive, effectively creating a management system for the operation that allows priorities to be set, using a screen based dynamic menu. The system has delivered visibility of every operation to all departments, so that supervisors are able to plan and schedule activity accordingly, significantly increasing operational efficiency.
Simply by highlighting and clicking on screen, managers can create movement requests for individual cars, rather than issuing instructions for mass movements, as previously. All activities, from complex specialist fitments to topping up fluids, is managed automatically, significantly improving efficiency in the deployment of manpower.
iTracks has given Broekman Automotive the ability to make decisions based on independent real time information, rather than responding to various pressures or requests as they arise, explains Ton van Ooijen, Managing Director of Broekman Automotive Division. Although the screen work lists are pre-sorted, grouped and prioritised to reflect customer requirements, the system is still sufficiently flexible to allow us to make changes, and when we do, everything is tracked and recorded, down to individual car level. This provides vital information to facilitate ongoing performance measurement and analysis of time and cost, which we never had before.
Crucially, iTracks interfaces with Wherenet, Broekmans RFID system. Initially, Broekmans plan was for the RFID system to record damage and track movements, however the iTracks suite already included a well proven damage recording system, therefore Vehnet could provide a robust solution, saving Broekman potentially substantial further investment.
Says Steve Jones, The interface with Wherenet was a major project the Broekman Automotive RFID implementation was probably the largest of its type in this environment, with 40,000 cars set to blink every 15 minutes, 24/7. This would have been a tremendous amount of data for iTracks to handle, but due to some skilful algorithms designed to filter out any non-moving vehicles, we were able to configure the system to see only the relevant information and so the interface between the two systems worked smoothly and was problem free from day one.
The sheer scale of the operation in implementing iTracks across ten different brands has dictated a phased approach, with the wish list from Broekman Automotive growing as the company moved across from its previous system and increasingly realised the potential of the iTracks system.
Our key aspiration was for visibility, states Wim Milder. We needed to be able to plan, organise and control resources, but also automate other operations, such as our back office function. Previously, all invoicing was done manually. With an operation of our size, there was clear potential for inaccuracy, but now when any vehicle is processed, iTracks automatically generates relevant paperwork.
The move to iTracks has allowed Broekman Automotive to react to the recent downturn without compromising customer service, and has equipped us for the future as we emerge from recession, Wim Milder confirms. iTracks has completely changed our way of working; the system has delivered visibility and control over our processes, which in turn has increased efficiency, improved productivity and will save costs. Undoubtedly, it has been a major step forward for us.