The VOIGT group is undertaking an ambitious project in an effort to set the right course for the future. For expanding their site in Niederbipp, VOIGT chose SAP® EWM in line with their SAP® IT strategy, with KNAPP as their implementation partner.
For over 100 years, the VOIGT group has been a reliable partner in healthcare. With three subsidiaries, VOIGT AG Pharma Großhandel (pharmaceutical wholesale), VOIGT Industrie Service AG and VOIGT International AG, VOIGT offers individual customer solutions in many areas of the pharmaceutical sector.
Lukas Röbl, Head of Process Management and Project Manager for SAP® EWM at Voigt and Gerald Lassau, Managing Director of KNAPP IT Solutions, discuss the challenges involved in a project of this calibre, the expectations placed on an IT partner and software trends.
Lukas Röbl: As a family-run company, reliable and lasting partnerships with our customers and long-term goals are particularly important to us. To achieve both these things, we have to be able to impress our customers with tailor-made and often individual solutions.
Our main strength is our great understanding of the pharmaceutical sector. This comes into play when supplying pharmacies, drug stores and suppliers of doctors’ surgeries as part of our wholesale business, as well as when supporting our industrial customers through our pre-wholesale subsidiary. Another factor behind our success is the fact that for the most part, we manage and develop our system landscape independently. As result, we don’t rely on external resources to integrate new customers or to fulfil customer-specific requirements and we can respond flexibly to market demands.
Lukas Röbl: The principle challenge in the pharmaceutical sector is the combination of declining margins and increasing process and quality requirements. The cost pressure is primarily shaped by the price reductions enacted by the state. By contrast, the increasing process requirements can be seen in connection with the current issue of serialization and product traceability (FMD). We are raising the degree of automation to deal with the growing cost pressure, which also makes the complexity of our internal processes and the demands placed on our system landscape considerably greater.
Over the last few years, VOIGT’s pre-wholesale business grew so rapidly that we needed external storage capacities to handle most of it. The expansion of the Niederbipp site will centralize the activities in the Swiss midlands. This will provide extra space for further growth and a solid basis for reducing our logistics costs in the long term. The primary task will be to successfully putting the newly created capacities into operation without compromising production.
Lukas Röbl: The optimum integration in the existing system landscape (SAP® ERP) and the possibility of Voigt operating and developing the system in the long run were pivotal deciding factors.
In terms of KNAPP acting as our implementation partner, we expect optimum mapping of all processes in line with our requirements, which includes the sub-systems in use. Furthermore, we are counting on intensive support and sharing of knowledge from the development phases through to the test phases and successful startup.
Lukas Röbl: After taking comprehensive actual recordings of our storage and distribution processes at both of our sites in the Swiss midlands, KNAPP had acquired knowledge and understanding for our processes early on in the project engineering phase. These recordings were then complemented by the experiences of those responsible for the various processes at Voigt during several rounds of talks to enable KNAPP to depict them in SAP® EWM the best way possible. Regular reviews also took place during which KNAPP presented in detail the functionalities and input dialogues that had already been developed. Together with VOIGT, they were scrutinized and finalized.
Lukas Röbl: It makes it possible to implement a material flow system that is already integrated in EWM. This reduces the effort involved in functional and integration tests for the systems and installations. The same applies to connecting SAP® ERP to EWM using standard interfaces – they are easy to expand for individual projects.
Gerald Lassau: KNAPP’s customers who have an SAP® strategy benefit from the best of both worlds – logistics and IT.
This enables KNAPP to provide a solution for the entire system and guarantee the functionality of the WMS and WCS, which is critical to success, using their own resources and the special, tried and tested EWM by KNAPP approach. The main focus is on truly understanding the customer’s business processes and the requirements of the material flow, as well as high usability, which is provided by KNAPP easyUse for work stations – whether they be goods-in, repacking, picking or packing. KNAPP knows its automation solutions and control concepts better than anyone and can reduce the time involved in startup and hypercare to a minimum by emulating sub-systems, while also providing a 24/7 Service Desk for the entire system, including SAP® EWM.
Lukas Röbl: The latest trends in information and communication technology will have a huge impact on our future business processes. Modern surveillance and control systems for example, will reduce the error rates in picking and delivery processes to almost zero. At the same time, customer requirements regarding data exchange, the provision of information on the outbound delivery status and last but not least, delivery flexibility, will increase considerably.
Gerald Lassau: Mapping all processes and material flow strategies in SAP® EWM guarantees maximum transparency and flexibility with regards related SAP® modules (ERP, TM, S4/HANA, etc.) all the way through to our customers’ business partners. This is complemented by KNAPP innovations such as KNAPP easyUse, which are then implemented in SAP® technology, or KiSoft developments such as KiSoft Pack Master or RedPilot, which are connected using interfaces. As a result, our EWM customers benefit from continual development of the SAP® standards on the one hand and on the other hand, from KNAPP innovations such as usability or swarm intelligence of the Open Shuttles, which can supplement EWM as and when required. Our aim is to achieve the maximum value in terms of logistics and to use SAP® as much as possible, including the EWM direct connection to the PLC / real-time control system.