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
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 at the 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.
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