An interview with the EU’s leading insulation manufacturer
Europe’s leading insulation manufacturer, Saint-Gobain Isover G+H, sends hundreds of trucks across Germany every working day, and all belong to externally contracted carriers.
Yet until 2019 Saint-Gobain Isover didn’t know the location of any individual transport and couldn’t provide its customers with this information. We invited two of the company’s senior logistics professionals to explain how they resolved this challenge: Martin Krumhaar, Director of Supply Chain Management, and Ralf Klobes, Head of Transport Planning at Saint-Gobain Isover.
Q: When did you start your journey with Transporeon?
Martin Krumhaar: Our sister company Saint-Gobain Rigips became a Transporeon customer in 2005 and, after its merger with Saint-Gobain Isover, we started to use Transporeon solutions in 2006. Under a global master agreement with Transporeon, a lot of other Saint-Gobain companies are now using Transporeon around the world.
We use Transporeon’s fully automated ‘no-touch’ transport assignment and, to make savings on the spot market, ‘best carrier’ transport assignment – solutions that integrate directly in our SAP and ERP systems. We have very good communication via EDI with our carriers and we have reduced our workload thanks to Transporeon. Overall we have had a great experience with Transporeon over many years, and this was a reason why we wanted a single platform that also provides better transport visibility.
Q: Why did you decide to improve transport visibility?
Martin Krumhaar: The distribution of building materials has long been a 'black box' for us. The last reliable status report for us and our customers was when the vehicle was loaded at the factory or at the temporary storage facility. After that, a lot of things got lost in the fog, until the truck actually arrived at the agreed unloading point which was unsatisfactory for all parties.
Ralf Klobes: We faced a worsening shortage of transport capacity last year along with growing traffic congestion and other delivery obstacles which made our planning much more complicated. We were also challenged by complex communication between customers, sales, logistics and our pool of carriers. This was why we started to search for a real-time visibility solution to fully monitor truck status and provide our customers with reliable delivery updates.
Q: How did you initially try to improve visibility?
Ralf Klobes: With three of our biggest carriers, we launched a pilot implementation of Transporeon’s app solution last year. Technically this ran very well but there was some resistance from drivers – they were unaccustomed to using mobile devices and using different apps for different customers. This was a key reason why our carriers ultimately refused this solution.
Martin Krumhaar: For us it was important to secure a rapidly scalable solution from a reliable partner – a real-time visibility solution that would closely link to our existing Transporeon system and integrate seamlessly into our SAP environment.
Q: After the pilot, what did you try next?
Ralf Klobes: We searched for an independent solution capable of providing maximum coverage of our trucks in a short space of time. We also wanted web-based visualisation to enable easy delivery tracking for sales and our customers. We decided to go with a proven real-time visibility solution from Sixfold, a long-term strategic partner of Transporeon.
Before implementation, all of our contracted carriers were already connected to the Transporeon platform and 38% were already connected to Sixfold. So from outset, these carrier transports could be displayed in our system without any effort and, of course, integration on the Transporeon platform gives us even greater visibility of available carriers.
Q: Did carriers start using the Sixfold solution right away?
Ralf Klobes: We had coverage of 50% four weeks after go live, so this was very successful, and we are hoping to achieve 80-90% coverage by the end of 2020. It was very easy to implement, and we didn’t have anything to do. We just sent an invitation to the carriers to contact Sixfold and everything else was between Sixfold and the carrier.
We are using a telematics system and all carriers are currently installing this; it gives us permanent access to truck geodata so there’s no need to interact with the truck driver. This is the most important point – it works fully automatically and, for us, it´s quite easy and user-friendly.
Q: When you think about Real Time Visibility by Sixfold, what are the key advantages?
Ralf Klobes: In my opinion, a huge advantage is that the driver doesn´t have to interact in any way, so we don´t have to rely on this human factor. We just connect to the telematics system and then everything works automatically. Also we don´t have to build any new interfaces because we have all the data in the Transporeon system – this makes implementation very easy.
Martin Krumhaar: The solution runs more automatically than we had expected it. And this was a big surprise for us. Another key advantage is online tracking – to keep sales and our customers informed of the truck location, we simply send them a link. The solution was really successful in short space of time and it works fine.
Q: What future prospects do you see for the use of Real Time Visibility by Sixfold?
Ralf Klobes: We plan to implement web access for our customers so they can actively track the status of their deliveries with a kind of pull functionality. This is because some customers said they fear a flood of notifications and information overload. They only want to track a truck if it´s really needed. Another idea is that we want to develop an electronic delivery note – we had this with Transporeon’s app solution but at the moment this isn’t available with the Sixfold solution, so that’s a plan for the future too.
Q: Is the partnership between Sixfold and Transporeon useful to you?
Martin Krumhaar: In peak season, there is higher demand on trucks. That means we need a way to identify available truck capacity. The Sixfold solution enables further automation steps together with Transporeon, such as dynamic time slot management, capacity matching and predictive transport assignment.
For further insights:
Click to our recent webcast recording – – presented by Wolfgang Woerner, CEO of Sixfold, and Sarah Naber, Customer Success Lead at Sixfold.