STARTING SITUATION AT CLARIANT
The following scenario is standard for the logistics of the speciality chemical producer Clariant:
according to a customer order, a product must be delivered in three work days. The aim now is to appoint the most suitable logistics service provider for the relevant order to the right collection point at the right time. Once the provider has collected the shipment and delivered it to the customer, the shipment data and status notifications must be reported to Clariant.
In principle, this type of scenario involves time-consuming communication processes that require a large amount of man-power. But, thanks to the logistics platform for transport management developed by EURO-LOG, the chemicals group can flexibly integrate logistics companies into the in-house SAP system. The necessary communication steps then take place electronically and automatically on this basis. Thanks to EDI Clearing, investments in new technology are not necessary for the group and the carriers.
The solution can be flexibly expanded to any number of external service providers and Clariant subsidiaries worldwide.
LOGISTICS PLATFORM FOR TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT
The conversion of the data between the Clariant SAP system and the various carrier systems is performed in the EURO-LOG AG in-house EDI Clearing Center. The Clariant SAP system generates carrier orders from a pre-defined processing status. These are converted to XML format using SAP PI (Process Integration) and transferred to the EDI Clearing Center via the SAP Interface developed by EURO-LOG. The transfer takes place securely via https. In the EDI Clearing Center, the data are converted to the data format desired by the respective logistics service provider. The data formats include standards, such as EDIFACT and FORTRAS, as well as various proprietary individual systems.
The solution means that all data associated with the carrier orders are available in Clariant’s work environment as well as in the systems operated by the logistics service providers.
AUTOMATIC ORDER GENERATION
Thomas Dörr, from the Global Business Services department at the group headquarters of Clariant International Ltd in Muttenz (Switzerland), explains the automatic order generation: “The logistics platform for transport management allows the order data transmission to take place completely independently of the assigned service provider's system: our SAP system automatically generates and sends order data at defined milestones. The master data of the various transport service providers are stored in the relevant SAP module so that the orders are automatically assigned to a carrier.”
Clariant therefore still determines which logistician is used for the relevant order via the master data maintenance, as was previously the case.
“The selection criterion is the performance of the carriers taking into account the price, speed and the specification of the product to be transported”, continues Dörr. Additional selection criteria can be flexibly defined and added in the system.
INTEGRATION OF THE CARRIER SYSTEMS
Thanks to the integrated approach of the EURO-LOG solution, with the involvement of the EDI Clearing Center, the integration of the logistics service providers into the existing Clariant system can be easily implemented – no new investments in software are required for Clariant or the service provider. Thanks to the central conversion, the integration of the external carrier systems only requires adjustments to be made between the EDI Clearing Center and the carrier’s EDP system.
From Clariant’s perspective, the carrier can be integrated with a low amount of time and effort: besides a new master data definition in SAP as a criterion for automatic assignment, there is no further administrative expense.
Another benefit for Clariant: as the SAP Business Connector, which receives the SAP data, creates XML data, this solution is also future-proof from a technical perspective, as the XML data format is an open standard.
However, for Clariant, the automatic assignment from the SAP system was only part of the way towards an optimum transport management solution. Just as important for the chemicals group was the integration of the status announcements of the assigned carrier into the Clariant system.
This is another reason why the path via the EURO-LOG EDI Clearing Center was selected. Carriers forward the generated data, such as “shipment received” or “shipment delivered” from their system to the EDI Clearing Center. This is where the conversion to a standard XML takes place via the SAP Business Connector and the data is fed into the Clariant system via the SAP Interface developed by EURO-LOG. This ensures that order data, shipment information and status notifications are available in the Clariant SAP system in real time and that the interface remains stable.
SECURE AND RELIABLE DATA TRANSMISSION
Clariant sets strict quality requirements for its logisticians: if an order is entered into a logistics service provider’s system, this provider must accept the order – individual cancellation options are contractually excluded. It is therefore even more important that no data are lost on the way from the Clariant system, via the EDI Clearing Center, to the assigned carrier and back to Clariant's SAP system.
This is ensured by the highly available, redundant EURO-LOG AG data centre. The IT infrastructure of this data hub is always the latest state-of-the-art, which ensures that the data and information securely and reliably arrive at the opposite end. This complies with the highest information security requirements – certified in accordance with ISO 27001.
ABOUT CLARIANT INTERNATIONAL LTD
Industry: A global leader in speciality chemicals
Headquarters: Muttenz near Basel (Switzerland)
Divisions: Care Chemicals, Catalysis & Energy, Natural Resources, Plastics & Coatings
Employees: 18,099 (2013)
Sales: CHF 6.076 billion (2013)
EURO-LOG CONTACT FOR CLARIANT
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