LBASE from Imtech ICT Logistics Software is giving European logistics service provider Emons Group clear visibility of its complex transport operations, helping to enhance operational efficiency and customer service.
When Emons' existing TMS (Transport Management System) came to the end of its useful life, the European logistics service provider sought a new system to give it new opportunities for optimising its internal processes as well as improving communications with its customers. It chose the LBASE TMS system, now available from Imtech ICT Logistics Software, which since its implementation five years ago has continued to prove its great success in giving Emons complete visibility and improved control of its complex operational process. This means LBASE is playing a key role in Emons' class-leading customer service.
Based in Milsbeek in The Netherlands, Emons Group is a 100 million Euro turnover company, which comprises four divisions to serve the Glass, Recycling, Chemicals and general cargo sectors. Major customers include leading brands in food, FMCG and consumer electronics. With hubs in many European countries, transport plans for local execution are generated from the Central HQ in Milsbeek, where all order entry, customer relations and accounting are also carried out.
Emons' 2WIN Cargo division, which specialises in transporting non-stackable goods with pallet heights up to 1.80 metres, is the most intensive LBASE user. It offers a high quality one-way service throughout Europe and one of the division's biggest markets is the UK.
The division is named after its 150 strong fleet of 2WIN trailers. These innovative, double-deck units are ideal for large volumes of relatively lightweight and non-stackable pallets. Thanks to their 54 Euro pallet capacity compared to a traditional trailer's 33 Euro pallets, two of Emons' 2WIN units can replace three conventional trailers.
Seeking similar innovation from its software suppliers Emons selected LBASE according to two key criteria: it needed to be flexible to support its processes and would need to interface with the company's other IT systems. This is because Emons has a group strategy of buying and integrating best of breed software for finance, payroll and despatching rather than installing a single enterprise system. LBASE's ability to integrate seamlessly with these other tools gave it a fundamental advantage while the flexibility provided by the system's Logic Interpreter, which allows LBASE to be easily tailored to meet Emons needs, would be the key to managing Emons process.
Integration is particularly important for Emons because it uses LBASE with a twist. While the company uses the system to manage order receipt, execution, paperwork, pricing and costs of its orders, the company operates its planning and optimisation via an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system called Quintiq. So ensuring that all shipments are transferred to this despatch software and that status updates are then transferred back into LBASE is critical.
"This is carried out with great success," says Sylvester van de Logt, Concern Controller at Emons Group. "We can very easily see the status and what happened during the process, which is a big benefit and LBASE also gives us a real track and trace capability by allowing us to see exactly what happened, at what time and with whom."
Orders arrive either via EDI, for which Emons interfaces with its customers to allow them to send orders directly into the system, or manually through email, phone or fax. Once logged into the system and accepted, LBASE exports an order to Emons' despatching software, which allocates the shipment to a truck. Shipments will often get transferred from one truck to another within Emons' broad and complex transport network but all of that data is stored in LBASE to give Emons, and its customers, a clear account of everything that happened to the shipment.
LBASE also communicates the order details to the truck's Transics onboard computer system to give the driver full visibility also. The driver updates his onboard computer with events such as when he has arrived at the destination and when he is loading and unloading. All of these status updates are uploaded to LBASE, allowing Emons to generate performance reports for its customers as well as analyse its own fleet. With status updates tracking the order's progress also transferred by LBASE to Emons' Coda financial software, Emons customer service department can invoice the shipment as soon as the driver has unloaded.
This seamless integration of LBASE as a key component of a best of breed IT system typifies Emons innovative approach to its operations. A further example is the company cutting CO2 emissions, through the capacity of its 2Win trailers, which produce a 33 per cent saving over conventional trailers while their aerodynamic shape gives better fuel consumption, leading to a 40 per cent reduction of CO2.
LBASE allows Emons to provide its customers with monthly reports on CO2 emission savings, generating information such as which movements were performed for which customer, which origin for which destination and distances covered. Carbon emission reporting is becoming increasingly important with more companies conducting Life Cycle Assessments and requiring partners to meet carbon footprint KPIs.
"The other important advantages we have found with LBASE are its reliability, scalability and robustness," says van de Logt. "There is great cooperation between Imtech and Emons, especially through Imtech's Customer Care Centre, which works brilliantly. We have a single contact that makes sure that all of our needs are fulfilled and ensures superb uptime. Imtech makes developments according to our requirements and delivers them within very acceptable timeframes: when something has to be done quickly they listen, understand and sort it out quickly. That's good cooperation. In fact it is not just a customer-supplier relationship but more like a partnership."
In terms of scalability, Imtech's size is a further advantage for Emons as van de Logt concludes: "To have a financially secure supplier of software that is crucial for our main process is very important to us. Imtech's size also enables faster development, which means more advanced possibilities will be released in shorter time frames. That's a big benefit because we consider ourselves a high-tech company in our field and we want to embrace new technology and developments. So it's very important for us is that Imtech is a big company and stable enough for the future development of LBASE."