Paul Vahle: ERP-integrated export competence with AEB
Case study

Paul Vahle: ERP-integrated export competence with AEB

Global player Paul Vahle is highly dependent on smooth exports. That’s why they returned to AEB for efficient export management including ERP integration.

Customized energy and data transmission

The Vahle Group, based in Kamen, Germany, is a specialist for mobile power and data transmission. With its 12 global subsidiaries and many business representations, Vahle is active in 52 countries. In 2015, the company – which is owned by the Vahle family – celebrated its 103rd anniversary.

Worldwide, the Vahle Group generates revenues of over €130 million and has more than 700 employees. Some 540 of them work in Germany at the Kamen and Dortmund locations and at the 12 German sales offices.

Vahle supplies customized energy and data transmission for various application areas in materials handling, mechanical engineering, and electric mobility. The most important application areas are: crane technology, storage and sorting technology, manufacturing automation, and port technology.

The product portfolio ranges from conductor systems, cable festoon systems, spring-operated and motorized cable reels, battery-charging contacts, to digital data transmission, as well as the technological breakthrough of a contactless power transmission system (CPS®). Qualified personnel and more than 100 years of project experience enable Vahle to offer economical solutions based on customer needs as well as a comprehensive range of catalog products.

Interfaces are crucial

When Vahle introduced a new SAP® ERP system, the company intended to also handle its exports with it and replaced the AEB software – which had worked well until then – with SAP® GTS. Initially, this seemed a logical step from a global IT point of view. But soon processes in the responsible department became very complicated. Using the newly installed SAP® GTS turned out to be very complex and not really user-friendly. An example: Summarizing a collective consignment in one Export Accompanying Document (EAD) was not possible at the time – it could only be done with significant manual effort. Nor was it possible to optimize the configuration of interfaces between export software and ERP system.

Furthermore, costs for the software were very high. Vahle therefore decided to return to AEB’s Export Management to handle its customs declarations. “The automation of the data transfer from SAP® to the AEB software simply worked better. We had to make less manual adjustments,” admits Daniel Scheel, responsible for SAP® and Head of IT & Process Management. The implementation phase also proved that the change back to the new old export solution was the right decision. “While the project was carried out, competent AEB employees supported us who knew exactly where they needed to configure which interface,” explains Silke Lyon, Head of VE10, Customs, and Export Controls at Vahle.

Seamless integration into the ERP system

Since April 2014, the AEB software is being used again and is integrated seamlessly into the company’s SAP® ERP system with customized interfaces. This makes it possible to largely automate the handling of export processes. The solution collects all necessary data to create export documents directly from the SAP® system and transmits these to the customs authorities. Consignee information, consignment weight, or the goods value have already been stored in the individual delivery orders in the ERP system. Thanks to the interface between SAP® and the AEB solution, employees in the responsible department no longer need to transfer the data manually to the export software. This minimizes errors and increases data quality.

Export Filing from AEB also ensures that Vahle does not transmit any incomplete messages to the customs authorities, reporting any missing or incomplete export data or transmission errors. This ensures that under normal circumstances, the export process proceeds quickly and without manual intervention. If an error occurs, the employees of the department can complete and send the declaration with just a few clicks of the mouse. Shortly afterwards, the EAD is returned by the customs authorities. The document is handed over to the forwarder who picks up the consignment at the production facilities.

“The automated data transfer from the SAP® system to the AEB software means much less manual adjustments and therefore easier handling in the responsible department,” explains Daniel Scheel. “Our employees do not have to process each export declaration individually and are relieved from many routine tasks in their day-to-day operations. This results in a higher satisfaction of employees in general. Ultimately, there is more time for processing special cases,” says Silke Lyon.

More transparency directly in SAP®

Once the customs declaration has been completed successfully and the EAD has been provided by the customs authorities, the AEB solution retransmits the information to the SAP® system. The invoice and delivery numbers make it possible to trace if an EAD is available or not. It is also transparent if an endorsement of exit is available for the order, meaning that the goods have left the EU. Copying this information manually from the export software back to the SAP® system is not necessary anymore. All information relating to an order can be viewed and checked directly in the company’s ERP system. This leads to a high transparency and clarity in the export processes. As a result, Vahle is also well prepared for any external audits.

For some time, the AEB solution which is integrated into the SAP® ERP system has been supporting the company in sanctions list screening as well. Vahle Austria started with this in spring 2015. “The implementation was smooth and trouble-free. The system was accepted immediately as being particularly user-friendly,” says Silke Lyon. In the summer of 2015, the screening solution was introduced in Germany and Spain, at the beginning of 2016 in the Netherlands.

In 2015, another application area was also added. Vahle Germany now uses the solution for export restrictions and the extension of material master data in the area of export controls/US re-exports. This also includes automation of cross-divisional processes. However, the introduction of the software has not yet been completed.