CASE STUDY ROSENBERGER

Rosenberger: Efficient and secure shipping from the Alpine foothills

The connector manufacturer's smooth and secure global distribution network relies on AEB solutions for shipping, compliance screening, monitoring, and export.

High-frequency technology from the Alpine foothills

 “Connect the mouse and power cable to the laptop, and you’re good to go.” In our personal lives, the number of connectors we need on a daily basis to work and communicate is relatively modest. But behind the scenes, connectors touch many areas of our lives by allowing energy to flow and news and information to spread. Connectors and adapters transmit signals through cellular base stations and satellite receivers and make it possible for our cars to have on-board GPS and navigation systems.

They are a critical element in the power transmission of electric and hybrid vehicles, electric bicycles, and power scooters. They play a role in mechanical engineering, telecommunications, medical technology, and the automotive industry. Rosenberger manufactures over 6,000 different types of plugs and connectors. With over 730 patents, it is among the top innovators in the world of high-frequency technology.

Ninety percent of its European production is manufactured at its Fridolfing headquarters, nestled in the Alpine foothills of Bavaria. Among Rosenberger’s 19 manufacturing and assembly plants worldwide, the plant in Hungary plays a central role: Jászárokszállás, 75 km east of Budapest, is where the individual parts are assembled and packaged for direct supply of the eastern EU countries. The rest of Europe and all non-EU countries are supplied from Fridolfing.

Taking export responsibilities seriously

Rosenberger has applied for certification as a “Known Consignor” and meets the criteria set by Germany’s Federal Aviation Office. One such criterion was to secure the perimeter of its entire 1,000 square meter shipping area, which includes three packing stations and goods issue zone. Once a package in this controlled area is marked as air freight, it is “secure.”

In 2009, when the handwriting for mandatory electronic export processing in Germany was on the wall, Rosenberger not only began searching for a local electronic customs solution, it specifically looked for software that would automate logistics as well. The global trade and logistics suite from Stuttgart-based software developer AEB fit the bill, so Rosenberger began implementing the suite one module at a time.

Precision from the factory floor to the loading dock

Rosenberger products are lightweights: the individual parts that are milled, punched, and coated from brass, copper, and stainless steel in the Fridolfing factory weigh only a few grams before they are assembled into connectors. But the total volume of consignments tipped the scales at 3,400 metric tons in 2012 – with some 15 tons in anywhere from 100 to 300 consignments shipped from Fridolfing each day. “About half of that stays within the EU, while the other half is exported to other countries,” explains Martin Motz, head of Customs and Export Controls.

In Germany, Rosenberger uses ASSIST4 at its Fridolfing headquarters. Some 40 percent of shipments go to other Rosenberger sites around the world such as the plants in India and Brazil, while the other 60 percent goes directly to customers – network operators and telecommunications suppliers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, all the big-name auto companies in Germany, and automotive suppliers such as Bosch, Blaupunkt, Panasonic, and Siemens. Rosenberger’s clientele even extends to the aerospace industry.

Martin Motz explains: “In the old days – before 2008 – we prepared an average of 50 to 100 consignments a month for export. Today, we average 500 Export Filing declarations a month. We never could have handled that workload with the same level of personnel. We did end up hiring more personnel and shifting some of the workload to Hungary, but the main benefit from the introduction of AEB solutions has been in the improved quality of our Shipping processes.”

Flawless shipping and delivery

The entire process of packaging the goods and generating the shipping papers has been streamlined and accelerated. “We used to need seven or eight minutes for one export declaration. Now the data is much better and we can complete one declaration in one or two minutes,” says Motz.

AEB’s Shipping software also manages the logistics in Hungary. Shipping was phased in gradually here in 2011. Six employees work in shifts at three packing stations and in the shipping office using AEB’s Shipping. Fridolfing also has three packing stations running the software. The six employees working in import/export management also rely on AEB’s Shipping. The warehouse team is especially fond of the AEB software, because it lets them perform all the various work steps at once. The old process involved tediously creating documents in Microsoft Word and Excel and printing the labels separately on different systems. Now, one employee can print all the necessary labels and paperwork such as the packing list and waybill right from the packing station and immediately place them on or into the packages.

For those in the logistics and IT departments, the primary benefit was to get rid of all the different standalone solutions and migrate to one central platform, with all the relevant rule bases stored right in the software. “That way, nothing is overlooked,” notes Martin Motz, saying that the AEB solution has also greatly improved the quality of the Shipping processes: “Automation not only accelerated our workflows, it also eliminated errors. Today, our error rate is measured in tenths of one percent. The only case I can recall is once when a label was affixed in the wrong place.”

Online consignment monitoring and alerting

The Rosenberger employees can also check the status of a consignment at any time through AEB’s Monitoring & Alerting overview. The sales team can run a proactive check on the status of a particular shipment or to see whether the goods have been packed or shipped yet. As soon as the goods reach the status of “documents complete,” the data is fed from AEB’s Monitoring & Alerting back to the ERP system proAlpha, and the invoice is printed.

Monitoring & Alerting also reports the tracking number back to proAlpha. Two colleagues in the shipping office receive proactive e-mail notifications if the carrier or parcel service reports a problem and the delivery is delayed. Rosenberger has also granted its branch offices in Brazil and the United States access to the online platform. The sales department of Rosenberger’s customer Huawei, a Chinese communications company based in Hungary, can also track its own consignments directly through Monitoring & Alerting and see whether an order it placed is already on the way.

There are plans to give all Rosenberger branch offices access to Monitoring & Alerting. The import department in Brazil already benefits from early access to the delivery note data, because good import management depends on knowing that only those goods listed on the import permit are actually shipped. Employees in Caçapava, São Paulo, can use Monitoring & Alerting to make sure in advance that everything matches, then complete their own paperwork.

Monitoring delivery scans: an alternative proof of exit

The software provides an extra benefit for Rosenberger: The delivery scan archived in Monitoring & Alerting is also considered a valid alternative proof of exit in case the endorsement of exit for a particular export consignment is not yet available.

“Implementing Monitoring & Alerting quickly paid for itself for this option alone,” confirms Martin Motz. “It would be frustrating to have to pay the tax retroactively if the endorsement of exit were missing.” It’s also helpful for situations in which a customer claims it did not receive a shipment. Motz can actually recall one such incident. The customer was in South Africa and the goods were valued at €16,000. Rosenberger was able to prove that the goods had actually been confirmed as received.

The advantage of the Monitoring & Alerting software over the systems of the parcel services is that the delivery confirmation is permanently archived. Many parcel services only make such data available for three to six months, says Motz. “We grant some of our customers a relatively long payment window, so it helps that even after twelve months, we can still demonstrate that the customer received the goods.”

Compliance screening: playing restricted party screening safe

In addition to Customs Management and Transport & Freight Management, Rosenberger also uses the Trade Compliance Management solution. AEB’s Compliance Screening has been installed to run restricted party screening and automatically checks all the addresses in real time against the official embargoes and the annexes of EU regulations 881/2002, 2580/2001, and 753/2011. Any matches trigger a transaction block in the Compliance Screening software. The complete ERP system data – some 30,000 addresses – is also sent each night to Compliance Screening for screening. Rosenberger OSI GmbH in Augsburg, which manufactures fiber-optic products, is also linked to the AEB’s Compliance Screening. Plans now call for connecting the US production sites as soon as a single ERP system is in place.

Better workflow thanks to centralized control

AEB solutions also lend a hand in the shipping office operations. The customs director and his colleagues set up pending tasks on the ToDos sheet, which the employees then take care of on their own. Rosenberger feels it is important to accommodate the specific wishes of its customers, so it appreciates the convenient option in that AEB solutions offer for saving customer-specific requirements.

“We used to list such requirements on the delivery note, which was less than optimal. Today I can define a rule base and note the customers’ special requests, which are then automatically applied when the shipment is processed.” Martin Motz sums it up this way: “Never before had I used software so intensely before we began using the AEB solution suite. Information technology has helped us streamline our processes and take our quality to an entirely new level. We are constantly evaluating which other functionalities we might use in the future. Currently, we are studying mobile control of the loading processes. Preparations are also underway to automate our Freight Cost Management. The underlying basis – integrating our quotes into the system – is already in place.”