Digital workflow and central interface for more efficient processes
What is the challenge?
EHL AG specialises in the production of concrete components for landscaping and is part of the CRH Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of building materials. It transports its products to numerous customers nationwide from 28 locations across Germany. Its destinations include DIY stores as well as construction sites, where all too often there is no one on site to sign for the delivery. All 20 logistics service providers have to document their deliveries at pre-defined locations in a legally watertight manner. “We work with different contract freight forwarders and so faced the challenge of harmonising and digitising the heterogeneous and sometimes very paper-heavy documentation as well as exchanging data with the forwarding companies’ different transport management systems,” said Michael Craemer, Project Manager Logistics at EHL AG.
EHL was looking for a data hub that could bidirectionally connect all contract forwarders over a single interface. As well as a mobile application that could support the entire process, from the order to the digital proof of delivery. The key requirements for the new system were:
- Drivers are guided through a transparent, customisable digital workflow.
- The workflow includes securing the load and checking all personal protective equipment.
- Exact status messages and a reliable ETA forecast:
- When is a vehicle’s expected and actual arrival at the shipping plant
- When was loading started, when was it finished?
- When did the vehicle leave the shipping plant and when will it arrive at the customer’s location?
- Photo documentation for:
- Load securing
- Delivery of a load at a construction site if no one there can sign for the delivery
- Real-time documentation through digital status updates
- Pallet exchange can be tracked in the system; employees can digitally post credit notes right in the system
As it turned out, EHL AG’s requirements were a perfect fit for the conizi data hub and the HABBL app, which offers extensive flexibility. “We can optimally connect every freight forwarder with this digitalisation platform,” said Thomas Brommont, Business Solutions Architect at EHL AG. “We can deliver the data to each freight forwarder over its web- or file-based interface and in the data formats it requires. The solution supports everything, from purely textual data to XML to JSON.” As an additional service, Fleetboard Logistics GmbH also offered to map the solution to the formats needed by the contract freight forwarders’ TMS providers.
In the first project phase, all contract freight forwarders were connected to EHL AG’s ERP system via conizi. HABBL was rolled out in the second phase, which started in the third quarter of 2020. Twelve freight forwarders are currently using the app, with more to follow. “We want HABBL to be used on a total of 85 per cent of our contract freight forwarder trips in 2021,” said Michael Craemer. One of the smallest logistics service providers, Spedition Krause, was an early adopter of the all-digital workflow. “We were really pleased – partly because of our close, long-standing relationship and partly because it shows that this kind of system not only helps large logistics groups, but also enables small forwarding companies to optimise their workflows,” said Michael Craemer. Companies can add 50 vehicles – or 100 vehicles: Either way, Fleetboard allows IT resource scaling on the fly. Widespread use of the application ensures transparent status updates and precise customer notifications. Freight forwarders can now tell their customers with greater accuracy when specific deliveries will come in, where they will arrive and whether they will be spread across multiple lorries. In addition, the contract freight forwarders can plan and schedule with more confidence because they see the contents of the shipment as soon as EHL places the order. “We are very satisfied with the result,” said Michael Craemer. “It was also the right decision strategically because, should we change our ERP system, we will not have to recreate 20 bilateral connections but simply make one adjustment on our side of the interface – which will save us an enormous amount of time and effort.” The logistics project manager also sees a business benefit for the freight forwarders: “They obviously benefit from the optimised processes. However, HABBL also gives them access to shippers from other sectors who also use this application.” Thomas Brommont summarised: “We decided to go with a very stable, scalable application that can be rolled out across Europe.”
EHL AG is a building materials company focusing on the sustainable production of concrete elements. A member of the CRH Group, EHL has been active in the German market since 1976. It serves private, commercial and government customers and generates annual sales of around EUR 200 million at 28 locations with around 1,000 employees. EHL concrete products for landscaping include pavers and curbstones, slabs, walls, palisades, step systems, support angles and street furniture. The products are sold exclusively through the sales organisations of selected distribution partners. EHL AG keeps its logistics processes running smoothly throughout Germany and across all locations, relying on sustainable transport. EHL lives up to this promise by working closely with long-standing, reliable logistics partners.