Nolte Küchen solves logistical bottleneck with AS2 gateway

In search of a solution to eliminate the poor coordination between truck deliveries from the region and the much later electronic receipt of delivery bills, Nolte Küchen came across the EDIINT AS2 Internet protocol and the new communication module of the EDI solution i‑effect®.

Germany's second largest kitchen brand, whose roots go back to the 1930s, is exported to 42 countries worldwide. Design and production take place at the sites in Löhne, the so-called "world city of kitchens", and in Melle, 30 km away. This is also where purchased items such as electrical appliances are delivered just-in-time. In order to bring together the produced and supplied items for loading, the logistics center in Melle is equipped with technology that is considered leading in Germany. Nolte Küchen communicates with 200 suppliers, including well-known companies such as Bosch and Siemens Hausgeräte, Blum, Egger, Hettich and Kesseböhmer. Every month, around 1500 orders are sent to the trading partners as EDIFACT and around 1000 as PDFs. In turn, an order comprises up to 100 order items. All the more impressive was the idea that trucks with shorter travel distances waited outside the gates until the delivery notifications, which are used for posting incoming goods, had arrived.

AS2 communication directly on the iSeries

System administrator Herbert Czerwonka attributes the delay to the limited transmission capacity of Businessmail X.400, which is used to exchange ORDERS, order confirmations, payment and delivery notifications, among other things, with 25 partners. "Since high-volume data transmission via ISDN is much slower, DESADV often arrived half an hour after the trucks." However, the solution to the problem was to include the weighty advantages of X.400: "The telebox enjoys a good reputation among our partners and is considered a secure transmission path." The IT representative came across EDIINT AS2 just at the time when menten GmbH approached him and presented the module i‑effect® *AS2. The Internet protocol transmits in real time at any volume: "The data is now no longer provided by dial-up but via the AS2 gateway from T-Systems and reaches the telebox within 2-3 minutes," says Czerwonka.

To date, Nolte Küchen communicates directly via AS2 with three partners. The dedicated AS2 communication server is the iSeries 810. Nolte Küchen switched from a lower-performance PC application to the server-based Telebox and EDIFACT modules of the i‑effect® predecessor products back in 2001. "We wanted a solution at the point where the data is generated. Our critical business processes run directly on the iSeries. The conversion or communication software should do the same" Herbert Czerwonka explains the switch to the native standard solution at that time. The tip from an independent IT consultancy to look at the products of menten GmbH proved to be spot on for system administrator Czerwonka: "The price-performance ratio was the most attractive among the competitors. Others offered total packages that had functions that were not needed and were therefore too expensive".

Enterprise resource planning with data conversion

In addition to the classic EDI workflow, Nolte Küchen also uses i‑effect® to map other document-related processes in the area of materials management: On the i5 550, i‑effect® converts spool order data into PDF documents in order to then send them to approx. 75 suppliers via e-mail. By the way, this is the only process that Mr. Czerwonka does not have automated by i‑effect®, because the dispatcher triggers the dispatch only after the personal quality assurance or, in individual cases, prints out the PDF first. The module i‑effect® *DBEXPORT exports production data directly from DB2 and converts them into the editable formats TXT, XLS, or CSV, so that they can be further processed by the partners directly in digital form. The production data is compressed in ZIP for the provision of i‑effect®.

menten support: "Fast and straightforward!"

Herbert Czerwonka attests to smooth operation of i‑effect® and its predecessors. The initial implementation was "quick and easy", outstanding mapping units were "quickly taken care of" by menten. The switch to i‑effect® and the upgrade to AS2, on the other hand, resulted in a few typical customization problems. While i‑effect® did not adopt configuration data during the upgrade, a missing PTF from IBM caused problems with telebox dial-up when AS2 was added. "A few hacking tricks had to be used to keep the processes running," Czerwonka said. But since the initial hurdles were removed and thanks to the always timely good support from menten GmbH, "everything is running very well again".

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