The Raben Group has been operating throughout Europe for over 75 years – providing customers with logistics services of the highest quality in full logistics, warehousing, international and national distribution, full logistics service for fresh products (via Fresh Logistics), forwarding services for the automotive industry (via CJ International) and sea and air freight (via Raben Sea & Air). Operating within the Czech Republic, Estonia, Holland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine, Raben has almost 5,000 employees, 430,000 square metres of warehousing space and 3,700 transport means at its disposal.
From the beginning, Raben has focussed intensely on the provision of high quality services and is proudly certified with the ISO 9002 for Quality System Compliance in Holland (since 1996) and in Poland (since 1997). The modern IT infrastructure, including the software which manages the storage, transportation and forwarding of consignments is fundamental for the company to support its keen focus on providing high quality service levels to customers. For example, today Raben provides electronic tools to customers, which facilitate the preparation of documents, and freight labels that ensure that each consignment is given a unique bar code identification number, which can be scanned at each delivery stage – providing customers with visibility of where their goods are in the process.
To be able to continue to provide its customers with best of breed logistics services and to support the company’s expansion, Raben made the decision to implement an integrated and modern transport management system. As part of the search to find such a system, Raben invited 12 software suppliers to present their solutions in 2002. After six months from the initial presentations and following a rigorous selection process, Kewill was chosen to develop an integrated transport management system for all Raben’s business units. The key challenge was to remove complexity out of the supply chain through managing a best practice process and providing employees with access to the right information at the right stage in this process.
Kewill Transport is a multi-country, multi-language, multi-currency, multi-warehouse, multi-hub and spoke, multi-company system, offering the flexibility to optimise inter-company planning and settle financial arrangements between separate organisational units. All while staying focussed on maximising efficiency and minimising costs. The software provides a comprehensive tool set that helps manage and control the variables associated with operating a logistics service. From defining business processes to monitoring service level agreements, from optimising stock put-away to utilising transport capacity.
Slawomir Pawlak, CIO, at Raben explains: "In the beginning we weren’t able to find software that would fit 100% to our business model and it seemed that only a few vendors that we engaged with had the functionality in their software to manage the transport via transport networks (hubs). After testing we recognised that Kewill’s transport management software was the best fit to our requirements." Following the selection, the implementation of Kewill’s transport management software started in 2003, taking a phased implementation approach over three years. The biggest challenge for Raben and Kewill was to provide all seven of Raben’s business units with one integrated system, so the software needed to be phased in and rolled out step by step in every business unit individually.
Given the scope of the project, Raben required an industrial strength database to be able to support the effective running of the software. Whilst Kewill did have a database itself, it didn’t have the capability to deliver the performance that Raben required. As a result, Kewill turned to its partner, Oracle – who provided a best in class database to sit behind Kewill’s transport management software.
"The implementation took three years due to the complexity of the project, the phased approach and the detailed requirements and specifications we needed to be able to use the software to differentiate our service to customers," says Slawomir Pawlak. "In the beginning there was a big gap between what we required and what was available ‘off the shelf’ from Kewill. Kewill started by implementing the standard solution then started to add new functionalities based on our needs. That detailed development exercise took nine months, after which we began with the first roll-out."
"To keep pace with modern supply chains, Raben was looking for ways to streamline and automate processes. But, to gain swift access to the right stock – in the right place, capture costs more accurately and provide customers with the level of service they demand, you also need to gain transparency at every step," adds Ger Daalhuisen, Global Product Manager at Kewill.
"The strength of this solution is that you can set up many different configurations, it is so flexible," says Pawlak. The technology reflects real life, which allows Raben to handle many shipments and activities. Importantly, Raben now has one centralised and integrated (between all business units and other key business systems) transport management system that has replaced the multitude of disconnected systems – each previously installed separately in every location. This centralised approach allows Raben to decrease the number of errors in data transfers and to control reporting. "Having one central system gives us the easiest way in which we can maintain the software. You can keep the team in one place and you can discuss with suppliers more easily. From my point of view, as a result of working with Kewill we now have lower costs, easier maintenance and better security and back-up procedures in place. From the business point of view, Raben can offer more accurate information add additional services, and receive and use it faster than used to be the case. Of course nowadays, having fast, accurate information is a crucial requirement for Raben’s customers."
It was a large and ambitious project to connect different business units, across different countries, offering different types of services to customers. "Of course, we had some real challenges throughout the project, but the thing that has impressed me is how both Raben and Kewill were capable and had the strength to manage and solve them," added Pawlak.