CASE STUDY MACDERMID ENTHONE

MacDermid Enthone: Integrated customs management with AEB software

MacDermid Enthone, specialist in surface coating and finishing, reaps the many benefits of international customs management and optimized transport & freight management with AEB software.

Björn Helmke 22.02.2017

For the MacDermid Group, which has its roots in the United States, globalized production and distribution has been a way of life for many years. The same is true for MacDermid Enthone, the division specializing in surface coating and finishing. In Europe alone, MacDermid Enthone has manufacturing facilities in five countries that export its specialized chemicals by road, air, and sea to customers on every continent. Success here depends not only on high-quality products but on an efficient and reliable supply chain: The global customer base counts on fast, on-time delivery.

Physical shipping processes are best supported by a standardized IT infrastructure. With a standardized ERP system from JD Edwards and the AEB Transport & Freight Management solution deployed at several sites, MacDermid Enthone had already made great strides toward standardization. The exception until recently had been the software used to manage export customs. Such a solution must be able to cope with a host of country-specific regulations. For this reason, the company has been working with different providers in the various countries. But MacDermid Enthone recently passed a milestone here as well.

Synergies across sites

The company introduced AEB's Customs Management as its customs solution for the Netherlands. They’re also using an AEB customs solution in their facility in Germany. As a result, the German and Dutch companies – which had already been working together closely – are now aligning more closely through their customs solutions and tapping into new synergies in the process. MacDermid Enthone is also enhancing the flexibility and efficiency with which it manages customs processes. 

“AEB's Customs Management allows us to respond quickly to new challenges – such as when we want to augment our exports with new destination countries or products. The solution gives us freedom and independence in how we work,” says Project Manager Patricia Zutz, tasked with implementing the new customs solution at MacDermid Enthone.

Transport management and customs IT from a single source

A bit of background: MacDermid Enthone felt that its former customs solution provider in the Netherlands was no longer developing its software adequately. Users were also annoyed that when problems arose, they needed to clarify who was responsible for support: the customs IT provider or AEB, whose freight management solution was integrated upstream from the customs solution. “That slowed us down,” relates Technical Manager Dirk Zutz, responsible for the ERP system at MacDermid Enthone and for integration of the freight and customs solution throughout Europe. “It was clear to us that it’s best to get both the transport management system and customs IT from a single source,” he continues.

But that is often easier said than done. Many details of what customs authorities require from businesses vary by country, even within the European Union. And so you can never assume that an IT provider knows how to manage customs in multiple countries. “That’s why we were so pleased that AEB was able to offer us a solution for our Dutch sites in ’s-Hertogenbosch and Naarden,” adds Patricia Zutz. Another bonus is that MacDermid Enthone has been successfully partnering with AEB on its customs management in Germany for many years now.

The logistics professionals in the Dutch sites were a bit more skeptical. “We weren’t sure whether software from another country would be able to cope with all the Dutch regulations,” admits Ruud de Bresser, a logistics expert atthe site in ’s-Hertogenbosch. But the skeptics were won over as the project unfolded. It definitely helped build trust that AEB has a dedicated office in the Netherlands with expertise in Dutch customs processes.

On AEB’s end, work was split between the Düsseldorf branch office, which supports MacDermid Enthone, and the Customs International Competence Center operating out of Stuttgart.

“We already offer customs management solutions for Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, Sweden, and Switzerland. And we’re actively planning rollouts for other countries, including France,” promises Uwe Henning, Director of International Business Development at AEB.

No changes to ERP system required

The project was launched in October 2015, and by March 2016, MacDermid Enthone was able to go live with AEB's Customs Management. It helped that the company did not have to adapt its ERP system in any way. “We still transfer the shipping data from the ERP system to AEB's Transport & Freight Management,” explains Dirk Zutz. AEB Customs Management is fully integrated with AEB Transport & Freight Management. “That made our job a lot easier, of course,” notes Robin Kaufmann, who headed the project for AEB. But even if this had not been the case, it still would’ve been okay.

“Because AEB's Customs Management can easily be integrated with all business systems such as Microsoft Dynamics, proAlpha, IFS, and Infor. We even offer a standardized plug-in for SAP®-based systems,” Henning emphasizes.

High-level automation

One important link that had to be established was to AGS – the IT system of Dutch customs. AGS plays the same role in the Netherlands as ATLAS in Germany, for example – it automates communications between the customs office and individual companies. “Thanks to AEB's Customs Management, we’re enjoying high-level automation for all our export processes in the Netherlands,” says Patricia Zutz with evident pleasure. A look at the process chain for export consignments makes this clear. The incoming orders are captured in the ERP system – including the shipping address, shipping date, and the pick date that is calculated from that data. When the orders are due, the ERP system generates a delivery note and the customs calculation needed for export, then transmits these documents to the transport management system.

AEB's Transport & Freight Management uses the data imported from the ERP system to generate other important documents such as the CMR consignment note and accompanying documents for dangerous goods. In the case of export consignments, AEB's Customs Management is also involved. The system receives the necessary data from AEB Transport & Freight Management, fills in the missing data, generates an export declaration for customs, and then automatically checks to make sure it’s complete and plausible. 

Templates and consignment profiles are used so that data from recurring export transactions can be automatically completed. “Our export professionals only need to input data manually in rare instances,” boasts Kathrin Abele from AEB’s Customs International Competence Center. The resulting export declaration is transmitted to the Dutch customs office’s AGS system, where it is checked and approved. AEB's Customs Management receives and processes the incoming messages from the AGS system.

The export accompanying documents are printed out in the logistics department of MacDermid Enthone – and the goods can be on their way. It was important to MacDermid Enthone that the software also be able to accommodate the company’s unique requirements. Due to how the company is structured, there are three different declarants at the two sites in the Netherlands. Thanks to the multiclient capability of AEB's Customs Management, this was no problem.

After the system was up and running for a couple of months, both the users and the IT experts at MacDermid Enthone were very pleased. “Our new customs solution is fast and easy to use,” enthused Ruud de Bresser from the logistics department. Patricia Zutz appreciates that the system can be easily adapted to new requirements. “We can define our own text modules, which allows us to work more freely and independently,” the project manager adds. IT specialist Dirk Zutz also found what he was looking for:

IT solutions for Transport & Freight Management and Customs Management from a single source – with clearly delineated responsibilities and easy for his company to maintain and manage.

Björn Helmke
About the author
Björn Helmke
Björn Helmke earned his degree in business administration and has worked as an editor in the fields of transport and logistics for over 20 years. For the past two years, he has written with growing enthusiasm about the issues of global trade in practice. His goal is to make business content both fun and informative.

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