How Adient digitized its international customs processes
Case study

How Adient digitized its international customs processes

Developing a hybrid international platform for imports, exports, and broker management – in four steps.

Adient: Global excellence

Adient serves customers around the world as a just-in-time supplier of car seats for 19 million vehicles annually. Today, Adient is part of the supply chain of all major car and truck manufacturers and a dominant player in the industry. 

Adient has achieved this success through an extremely customer-centric, service-oriented approach. More than 200 strategically placed manufacturing and assembly plants around the world ensure that Adient is never far from its customers. An Adient car seat in EMEA is rarely an export – even if its components come from around the globe. The critical factor in this success is the ability to ensure a smooth supply to production sites. And this in turn relies on smooth global trade processes.

Key: efficient customs processes

Adient’s customs processes in EMEA used to be largely decentralized, however. Each plant was responsible for itself. The seat maker engaged more than 80 brokers – and directly or indirectly over 150 authorized agents – for its customs activities.

“Adient hadn’t integrated any of these service providers into its system environment, communicating and placing orders instead using email and document attachments. The brokers and service providers always had to manually re-enter the information from these attachments into their IT systems,” explains Stephanie Schober, Senior Customs Specialist and Project Manager at Adient.

These manual data exchange processes were not only error-prone, they were also expensive. There was no centralized overview of customs activities – or the data to support this.

Solution: a hybrid system

The Adient team’s vision for new customs management: seamless customs and efficient trade compliance – in a digital age. The goal: to create seamless and efficient global trade processes through digitization and automation. 

This vision impressed Uwe Henning, Director of International Business Development at AEB. He shares Adient’s belief that digital solutions in customs management should be user-friendly, reduce costs, and create transparency.

“We designed a hybrid customs platform for Adient based on our standard solutions Import Filing, Export Filing, and Customs Broker Integration. The platform handles both direct communications with the customs authorities when filing directly and communications with the customs brokers when submitting customs declarations indirectly,” Henning explains.

Implementation: AEB customs solutions, fully integrated and seamlessly usable

Adient uses direct filing for its imports and exports in Germany. In other countries, Adient uses Customs Broker Integration, a solution that automates communication with customs brokers. Any other country where Adient starts doing business can easily be integrated into the AEB platform using either direct filing or Customs Broker Integration.

This means that the automotive supplier can use the services of customs brokers participating in the AEB Trusted Broker Partner Program virtually at the click of a mouse, without having to invest a lot of time in research, quality controls, contract negotiations, or systems links. “We’ve vetted these providers to ensure they meet key quality criteria and have already connected them to our solutions,” says Uwe Henning. The trusted brokers are distinguished by their technical expertise, financial stability, multilingual capabilities, and a good reputation with the relevant foreign customs authorities.

“We created a hybrid solution for Adient, tailored to their goals of efficiency and transparency, that combines direct filing and seamless collaboration with customs brokers on a single integrated platform.”

Uwe Henning, AEB

Result: more data and transparency, reduced errors and costs.

AEB software helped Adient reduce costs and broker fees in numerous countries. And more importantly: All customs declaration data is now available on a single platform. This boosts performance while minimizing risks. A dashboard offers complete visibility of every movement of goods. Whenever there’s a hiccup with customs at any border, Adient is immediately notified. Adient can also dig into the database for in-depth analyses and identify patterns for predictive planning – and ultimately make better decisions.

How the AEB customs platform at Adient works

  • Adient’s centralized customs platform runs in the Stuttgart data center of AEB.
  • In countries where Adient uses direct filing, the AEB software handles communication with the customs authorities directly.
  • The software automatically updates to reflect changes to the law.
  • In countries where Adient uses customs brokers, the AEB software compiles the appropriate data and transmits it to the brokers in the precise format they need.
Automated: Import and Export Filing
  • With customs declarations, the relevant shipping or order data is first transmitted from the Adient system to the AEB software.
  • If the Adient system does not provide all the data needed for the customs declaration, the AEB solution uses smart algorithms to automatically augment the incomplete data.
  • Once the customs declaration is complete, the AEB platform handles communications with the national customs authorities and transmits the data directly, taking country-specific requirements into account and checking to make sure the data is complete and plausible.
  • Once the customs office has issued its release, the solution generates the export accompanying document and other necessary documentation.
Seamless: Customs Broker Integration
  • When customs declarations are submitted indirectly, the AEB software prepares all the necessary data and transmits it to Adient’s customs brokers.
  • Brokers automatically import the customs declarations right into their system and can submit them directly from there.
  • When the declaration is complete, the broker automatically feeds the documents (EAD, etc.) and other data back to the customs platform, virtually in real time.
  • The AEB solution then transfers the necessary data to Adient’s ERP system.
  • Result: an end-to-end digital process that’s faster and more transparent with fewer errors.