Real-Time Visibility in Frans Maas Supply Chain

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Every second and every mile count in todays highly competitive world of logistics; which is why real-time visibility of the supply chain has become essential to the continuous optimisation of operational efficiency and service levels.

Frans Maas, a leading European transport and logistics operator, decided to fully automate this critically important part of its business processes and asked system integrator Zetes to deliver an integrated solution. Zetes implemented its reliable Track and Trace-system using Intermecs robust scanning equipment.

With the help of a total package of services and products, publicly listed logistics service provider Koninklijke Frans Maas Group N.V., delivers custom made solutions to every business customer. For local, pan-European and intercontinental enterprises, Frans Maas offers everything from a transport-only solution to a complete supply chain management service.

The company views itself as a specialist in the co-ordination and optimisation of services that provide added value for the customer. Infrastructure, expertise and high quality services are Frans Maas core values. The company possesses a lean and efficient network of 230 depots in 32 European countries.

Approximately 8,000 well-trained employees and an advanced IT backbone provide the basis for the realisation of Frans Maas ambition to grow significantly in various markets over the coming years, including automotive, chemicals and technology. Jrgen Kerpen, Co-Manager ICT Frans Maas and employed at the German head office stated: We already use a Transport Control System (TCS) in our daily work, which is applied mainly for logistics processes rather than transport. When one large car manufacturer came to us with some additional requirements, we decided to look for a new system to identify and follow freight and to control the whole logistics and transport process. We approached system integrator Zetes for delivery of an integrated solution. Zetes is a respected party in Europe. We have worked with them on other logistics projects before. That was a big advantage. This enabled them to come back quickly with a clear proposal: a database linked to Zetes standard Track and Trace system, customised so it could work seamlessly with the existing TCS. For the hardware the scanners we analysed the European market. After several tests the Intermec 760 handheld computer emerged as the best possible option.

 The large car manufacturer works on the principle of worldwide rolling stock, Kerpen continued. That was exactly why we needed a direct handle on all goods. They should be able to go straight from the supplier to the shop floor. Another important issue was the fact that the customer wanted the ability to have direct visibility of potential problems in the logistics and transport process, so they could act immediately if necessary. These have now been taken care of, thanks to Zetes Track and Trace-software. Goods are scanned in the depots and this information is sent via GPRS to the central Frans Maas track and trace-system, which is linked to the car manufacturers registration system. Live checkpoints are scattered along the entire transport line in our track and trace-system. All new data is imported into the database and matched with or added to existing information. If everything goes well, we dont hear anything. If not, the system warns us. Thus, all units, from the smallest car part to the complete pallet, can be traced in detail through the entire supply chain. The Intermec 760 GPRS handheld computer provides the complete solution.

Just like the Zetes system, the Intermec integrated handheld computer and scanner is essential, Kerpen continued. The handheld is able to scan from two to three metres distance. Via a GPRS connection the data is placed directly in the database and checked. This way of checking goods in and out is very reliable and fast. The Intermec 760 is a smart tool that enables us to fully customise the user interface in the touch screen. All menu options and functions are available in one screen. That makes it very easy for end users. It also minimises the chance of human errors. Not only does the scanner meet our expectations when it comes to its usability, it has an excellent quality to price ratio. Before deciding on the purchase of the Intermec 760, Zetes assisted us in testing and selecting the handhelds. They have a lot of experience in doing this.

The system has been in use by Frans Maas for over a year now and it is clear that both the company and its customer are highly satisfied. The supply chain can be traced exactly as the car manufacturer required. Purely from a cost efficiency perspective, it is a great advantage for them that they have a dedicated service provider for their transport and logistics. In addition to this they are assured of a constant and high level of service. Thanks to the success of this solution, other large customers are also interested in working in this way. Frans Maas and our customers gain business advantage from the combination of Zetes Track and Trace software and the Intermec 760.

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