Farmers, drivers, planners, workers... All of these fulfil an important role in the day-to-day sugar production of manufacturer Pfeifer & Langen. Furthermore, they all depend on one another in order to fulfil their roles as effectively as possible. From now on, all the various parties can collaborate effectively via a collective cloud platform developed by EQUANS Thanks to a fully digital data flow from the field to the factory and back again.
In 2019, Pfeifer & Langen tasked EQUANS with harmonising the needs of the various stakeholders within the sugar manufacturer’s sugar production process more effectively. Marcel Grondelaers, business development manager for EQUANS: ‘The customer was clear on where the bottlenecks were occurring but did not know how to resolve the issues. So, we proposed our Logistics Management System; an all-in solution which allows information to be exchanged smoothly and ‘live’ between all of the parties concerned. The farmers, for instance, can outline the fields in order to set surface area, estimated yield, the right storage place and supply and exit routes. The production department, in turn, has a constant overview of stock, supply and the quality of the sugar beet. Drivers are closely monitored to ensure the appropriate rhythm in terms of loading and unloading. This digital data flow ultimately leads to improved collaboration and the very best logistical result.’
No paper required
In order to use as little paper as possible, communication now runs via tablets and smartphones. The tablets tell the operators of lifting and loading machines which fields to go to, which task to do and which route they must follow. The drivers all have a smartphone with Smart-ID which allows them to identify themselves and communicate with those who are loading the lorries. The device also contains information about the load; this can then easily be produced during customs checks. Grondelaers: ‘The smartphone identifies itself, allowing controls to be automated. Files can be eliminated and it also provides a substantial saving in terms of kilometres. In the case of Pfeifer & Langen, we think in terms of combination loads. After unloading at the factories, the drivers can stop at neighbouring farmers to supply the pulp from the beet, which is then used as animal feed. The transport companies can follow and direct them accurately using the LMS portal.’
Benefits for the whole chain
At Pfeifer & Langen, even the most critical employees and older lorry drivers, who were initially quite sceptical regarding the new working methods, are now convinced about the benefits that the collaboration platform offers. Grondelaers: ‘It’s no wonder, really, because each link in the chain benefits. If there are any unexpected problems, everyone is immediately aware of them. If a factory, for example, can unexpectedly process 30,000 instead of 20,000 tonnes, with one press of a button everyone instantly understands the consequences for his/her task in the supply chain.’
Rolled out further due to success
The task for Pfeifer & Langen was initially focused on one factory in Germany but, after a successful project, was further rolled out to four other German sites at the sugar factory. ‘Once the needs are defined and the platform has been developed, it is easy to expand towards the future. This makes it interesting for customers with numerous sites. We also, of course, ensure that our cloud solution is entirely integrated with the existing back-end systems, such as SAP, but also with the customer portal and factory systems used by our clients. Everything is set up to improve efficiency via a single platform’, says Grondelaers.
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