The automotive industry, with its far-reaching and highly specialized networks of suppliers, forms an essential backbone of the economy and economic prosperity in Central Europe. It is a prime example of international collaboration and dynamic growth.
And the significance of the suppliers in the automotive industry is continuing to grow. The OEMs are concentrating more and more on their key competencies and are shifting entire system components onto their upstream suppliers. In the development, production and service phases, this requires intensive collaboration between the OEM and system partners and their suppliers.
This collaboration places demands on all partners for high reliability and the ability to respond quickly in the event of problems. In order to master these critical processes reliably, a series of technical standards and best practices have developed, some of which apply to the entire industry and some of which apply only to certain OEMs and their dedicated suppliers.
Optimum utilization and linking the resulting information streams is no longer conceivable without the qualified use of specialized IT systems. That makes the automotive industry an absolute pioneer in the implementation of IT-supported customer and supplier relationships as well as cross-company business processes (EDI, Collaborative Commerce).
The specific requirements automotive suppliers have for their IT systems are, however, not simply limited to correct transmission of delivery schedules, shipping orders and shipping notifications. Beyond this, suppliers in the automotive industry also place very high demands on the planning accuracy and documentation of their production processes. The ability to respond to altered quantity and deadline requirements with flexibility is of primary importance. This is because the reported needs are constantly being subjected to broader fluctuation ranges with ever lower lead times.
Moreover, the traceability of delivered products is highly important for certain product statuses or the raw materials in use. Compliance with defined quality assurance procedures and cycles as well as the documentation of their results also place high demands on suppliers. In addition, extremely high transparency in the cost structures is in high demand. That is the only way to ensure that, despite the constant price pressure, money is still earned. With a range of functions just right for mid-sized companies, APplus fully covers these demands based on state-of-the-art technologies. The special function modules for automotive suppliers enable appropriate handling for all specific processes for the automotive industry, regardless of whether the processes involve manufacturing individual parts or delivering complete system components.
The state-of-the-art software architecture of APplus (XML Web services) pays off particularly where state-of-the-art EDI processes are to be implemented — an essential contribution to reducing costs. APplus for automotive suppliers links widely varying company departments and functional areas, coordinates processes in a targeted manner and controls them across companies. The result is integrated information processing.
The benefit quickly becomes clear: Shorter cycle times, increased productivity and more speed thanks to the smooth exchange of information in the process chain. And not least of all, this efficiency contributes to improved supplier evaluations.
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A general contract is agreed on for each article from the product range. The validity period for the contract and the type of packaging required are specified here in addition to the cost and agreed-upon total number of parts. A forwarding agent and unloading point for the customer are also clearly identified by assigning an EDI partner. The current delivery progress as well as all completed and planned delivery schedules can be viewed at any time on the general contract screen.
In delivery schedules, the customer keeps the supplier informed about the next deliveries planned for a certain article. The supplier determines its own production plans based on this information. Additional information assists with materials resource planning for the products to be delivered, the packaging to be used and the quantities delivered thus far (cumulative quantities). Difference analyses between the individual schedules provide support when adapting materials resource planning to fluctuating needs.
In just-in-time delivery schedules, the OEM informs its suppliers about the final times and quantities for deliveries. The individual schedules are then quickly assembled for transport and prepared for shipping.
All of these business processes between customer and supplier are implemented based on standardized Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) processes. Different manufacturers and countries, however, prefer different standards, such as VDA, ODETTE or EDIFACT. These standard also frequently modified and supplemented for a particular manufacturer. In order to be able to reliably portray all possible variants of electronic communication in series production and the automotive industry, you need a lot of experience with the various EDI standards and the different communication processes.
For this APplus relies on the tried-and-tested XML-based Business Integration Server (BIS) from SEEBURGER AG. Alternatively, the myOpenFactory platform is available. Thanks to its comprehensive functionality, the solution provides greater transparency, faster response times and greater process reliability. The result is a reduction down to essential content. Another big advantage of myOpenFactory is the ability to reach all business partners with just a single interface.
Naturally, APplus Automotive also supports sophisticated transport logistics, which ensures timely delivery of the quantity needed by the customer. Forwarding agents or other shipping methods require specially prepared information to enable seamless tracking of the logistic chain.
In addition to the products to be delivered, the packaging or shipping containers used have to be precisely defined and kept in stock. Moreover, a special document (shipping order, goods receipt, transport label, etc.) has to be produced and sent both as a hard copy and in electronic form. The delivered products also have to be invoiced using special procedures.
Container management in APplus includes packaging material management that covers all the requirements of container management in the automotive industry. This immediately leads to substantially lower personnel costs for tracking containers as well as a significant reduction in container costs, since container inventories that were previously needed can be reduced.
For parts that are stocked in the customer's warehouse, consignment warehouses can be furnished and allocated to the pertinent location. Multiple consignment warehouses can be allocated to one article. These consignment inventories can be accounted for separately from the rest of the inventory and for different customers.
APplus supports reading and processing electronically transmitted credit notices in accordance with VDA4908. The credit procedure intends for the consignee to appraise material deliveries at the agreed-upon costs and prepare credit notices for the supplier. For each delivery of goods, the consignee electronically receives transmitted delivery note data / transport data from the supplier in accordance with VDA4913 or EDIFACT DESADV.
This can be used to prepare credit notices using a largely automated process. The supplier reads in the credit notice data and compares it to the sent delivery note data. After the comparison, the credit notice data can be transferred to the financial accounting department and the associated bills can be drawn up.