Invisible. Essential. Underestimated. Software.Software – it’s invisible, essential and yet all too often completely underestimated. Though we are mostly unaware of it, software accompanies us everywhere in our daily lives and has us wrapped up in its digital network. Needless to say, software plays an important role in a logistics system as well, where it breathes intelligent life into the mechanical components. Mario Rauch, Head of Software Consulting at KNAPP, talks about why software should not be left to chance, why intelligent software processes are the foundation of successful warehouse operations and how software consulting at KNAPP really works.
Experience has shown that a considerably small share of the total investment in a logistics system goes into software – around 10 %. Software, however, is up to 90 % responsible for the intelligent and smooth operation of the system. That is why – analogous to the physical layout – it is crucial that the software layout has the right design
How do you explain software?Mario Rauch: To answer this question, I’d like to give a simple example. Picture two cars of the same model. The two cars are next to each other, and one has a suitable software while the other one does not. Can you which car as the software at first glance? No, you can’t. Only after turning the ignition can you tell which car has the software. One of the jobs that software fulfils is to ensure that the mechanical components do the right thing at the right moment. We never see the software itself – just its effects. At the same time, this illustrates the big problem in software that we encounter every day: software is invisible and intangible, and therefore its importance is often underestimated. At first glance can you tell which car has the software? Software may be invisible, but it’s not unimportant. Nevertheless, its significance is often underestimated.
Could you say that software has an image problem?Mario Rauch: (laughs) It’s a slight exaggeration, but yes. For investments that range in the tens of millions for an automated logistics system, the part that is invested in software usually plays a subordinate role. Based on experience, we’re talking about 10 percent of the total. So, software is not only invisible, but also inconspicuous as part of the total investment volume. It’s often an afterthought at the end of the solution’s development.
And that’s not a good idea – why?Mario Rauch: In a nutshell, you risk leaving the software solution to chance. Only when the system is first started can you see whether the software works or not. This can have potentially serious consequences, because in ongoing operation, software accounts for 90 percent of the effectiveness and profitability of a system. This means that if the software is not optimally aligned with the use cases, processes, goods flows and technologies, the system can never reach its full potential. The result is that the entire investment does not bring the desired profits.
Where does software consulting at KNAPP start?Mario Rauch: We’re in no doubt that the beginning of a project provides the most leverage for setting and keeping the entire project on the right track. This means we get started with our software consulting early on, and work with our customer from day one. Our springboard consists of the business cases, the concepts and the company goals of the individual customer. For us, it’s very important that we understand how our customer and their business tick because we don’t sell software off the rack. Our goal is to translate the individuality and peculiarities of each customer and each business into efficient logistics processes.
We’re in no doubt that the beginning of a project provides the most leverage for setting and keeping the entire project on the right track. For us, it’s very important that we understand how our customer and their business tick because we don’t sell software off the rack. Our goal is to translate the individuality and peculiarities of each customer and each business into efficient logistics processes. Mario Rauch, Head of Software Consulting, KNAPP AG
How does software consulting at KNAPP work?Mario Rauch: We have a methodological approach. Using this approach in close collaboration with the customer means that our software can be seen, explained, discussed and in the end, defined. The core of our approach is to think in terms of business cases and processes. This is where our in-house software experts come into play. They are called upon to be excellent logistics experts, communicators and translators under one hat, who ask the right questions, listen attentively and truly understand the customer’s requirements. In addition to these personal qualities, we also provide a comprehensive visual method for analyzing and describing logistical processes. Different perspectives and first impressions of processes facilitate the effective development of the required software solution, taking the topic, progress of the project and degree of elaboration into account. As a result, a harmoniously attuned software layout takes shape step by step from the first day onwards. The layout is then crossed over to our systems and technologies with as few losses as possible.
What are the advantages of this approach?In my view, what we are creating with this approach is the elementary foundation for the successful implementation of the entire project, and more importantly, for the long-term success of our customers. With our methodology applied, we know together with the customer how the logistical solution will look and function by the end of the project. This means that the investment risk is significantly reduced. The truth is, we can’t and don’t want to rely on the luck of the draw for a software solution. I am also very proud that through our work together with our customers, we have already celebrated many terrific successes.
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One success story for software consulting at KNAPP is with Victorinox, manufacturer of the legendary Swiss Army knife (with long-standing tradition). In our exclusive on-site interview, read about how Edgar Flecklin, Head of Logistics bei Victorinox was expecting an offer but was instead given a workshop, and why he is glad that it turned out that way