Messer does it better: tours and billing optimized
Messer, the specialist for industrial, medical and specialty gases, optimizes its delivery logistics throughout Europe with the PraGas and PraCar route planning systems and the PraBord telematics solution from Wanko integrated into them. This reduces logistics costs by 3 to 5 percent and significantly speeds up billing.
A poached peach on vanilla ice cream: this is the obvious mental association when considering the Messer Group’s transport and fleet management system. This bears the internal name MELBA, which stands for “Messer European Logistics Bulk Application”. In fact, since 2004, the family-owned company has already been using the solution programmed by Wanko in 12 European countries to optimize gas transports in tank trailers and cylinders. The list ranges from Germany, Austria, Hungary, France and Switzerland to Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Poland and Benelux. Other states are to follow successively.
“We want to work with a central database and with comparable key figures throughout Europe”,
explains Markus Renner, who is in charge of the route planning system in Messer’s logistics department. The strategic importance of MELBA for the Messer Group is “very high, which requires a high availability of the solution. “If MELBA doesn’t work, then we have significant problems, especially if the shutdown lasts for days,” Maik Otto, who is responsible for process optimization at the Messer Group, puts it in a nutshell.
"We want to work across Europe with a central database and with comparable key figures"
Markus Renner | Supervisor Tour Planning System Messer
Thanks to central database: Messer optimizes delivery logistics during Corona
Each country makes its own arrangements, as there are specific regulations in each region for the transport of gases, many of which are classified as dangerous goods. Thanks to the central database, however, Renner has an overview of the vehicles in use at all times.
“During the Corona crisis, we were able to use it to make individual trucks available for other countries to avoid supply bottlenecks with medical oxygen,”
, Renner recalls.
MELBA not only optimizes the daily routes of more than 1,000 tank trailers, but also takes into account the assignment of orders to vehicles and their sequence when approaching them. This involves the use of sophisticated algorithms that have already proven their worth in various industries. The aim is to minimize not only the number of kilometers driven but also the time required, thus increasing the efficiency of delivery logistics. The situation is similar for the more than 300 trucks used to transport cylinder gas, which are controlled by the PraCar route planning system, also developed by Wanko. Maik Otto expects that logistics costs will be reduced by around 3 to 5 percent by optimizing bulk and bottle transports.
“Depending on the volume, several trucks can be saved in each new country,”
, reports Renner, who plans to establish the solution in Slovenia in 2023. There, 10 trucks are currently active In some national companies, much greater effects could often be achieved.
Seamlessly integrated vehicles
There, too, Messer works with transport companies, which are mostly paid on a per-kilometer basis under long-term contracts. While the tank trailers are generally provided by Messer, the tractor units belong to the contracted freight forwarders. In order to seamlessly integrate the vehicles into the digital delivery process, the drivers have been gradually equipped with the PraBord telematics app, also developed by Wanko, since 2015. PraBord is an integrated component of the MELBA transport planning system, which in turn is connected to the SAP enterprise resource planning system used at Messer.
The order data is transferred directly from MELBA to PraBord. The solution, programmed for Android devices, then guides drivers step by step through the delivery process, which only ends with the delivery receipt from the recipient. Only the measurement reports and the delivery bills for the customers still have to be printed out in the truck. To record the actual quantity delivered, the driver scans the barcode printed by the measurement report on the delivery bill, thus avoiding transmission errors.
"With Prabord, delivery data is transferred directly to SAP, which automatically generates invoices"
Maik Otto | Process Optimizer, Messer Group
Automatically generated invoices
“PraBord was a revolution for us. It gives us not only the current position data and the actual kilometers driven, but also the delivery data – and all of this without delays and almost completely paperless.”emphasizes Renner, who illustrates the advantages using the example of the national subsidiary in Poland with its approximately 120 trucks: “In Poland, drivers are often on the road for a whole week. When they return, they bring back stacks of delivery bills, which then have to be entered manually.” As in the other countries, this process will become obsolete with the introduction of PraBord.
“With PraBord, the delivery data is transferred directly to SAP, which automatically generates the invoices,”
Automatic gas supply thanks to smart tanks
However, MELBA and PraBord not only simplify and accelerate invoicing, but also the generation of orders. In the gas business, facilities and processes between customers and suppliers have always been intertwined. Many customers with large gas requirements rent the storage tanks that Messer installs at their sites. More than 10,000 of these tanks already exist throughout Europe. Around 70 percent of these tanks are so-called “smart tanks,” which are equipped with level measuring devices and a SIM card: This allows the current fill level to be automatically transmitted to the supplier. This function enables automated, efficient supply and optimized logistics.
Once a day, the current fill level is automatically transmitted to Messer via the mobile network. From the history of the fill level data, logistics knows the customer’s consumption profile, which can be evaluated for optimized supply. If the system recognizes on the basis of the integrated consumption forecast that the customer-individually defined minimum quantity in the tank will be undercut in the near future, MELBA automatically schedules the customer’s supply in good time.
Shortest possible route
The responsible dispatcher then organizes the delivery for one of the next days, with MELBA suggesting the optimal route. The tanker truck travels the various customers along the shortest possible route and with the most efficient distribution of the transported gas.
“In our supply chain, we always have a certain amount of flexibility for exceptional situations – for example, if unusually large quantities of gas have been consumed during an extra shift and replenishment is needed immediately,”
, Renner emphasizes. “However, we are most efficient when as many customers as possible are supplied automatically.”
Conclusion: Messer is already well on the way to the end-to-end digitization of all transports throughout Europe. Nevertheless, much remains to be done: around 3,000 remaining tanks need to be equipped with level indicators and some countries with the PraBord telematics solution. In addition, Spain, Bosnia, Albania, Bulgaria (and Ukraine) still operate without MELBA. So it won’t be boring for Markus Renner and Maik Otto in the next few years. Nevertheless, they are relaxed about the tasks ahead.
“We will continue to master all challenges together with Wanko in the future. Our cooperation is characterized by great trust.”
Messer was founded in 1898 and is now the world’s largest family-run specialist for industrial, medical and specialty gases with around 11,000 employees. Products and services are offered in Europe, Asia and America under the ‘Messer – Gases for Life’ brand. Today, the Messer family of shareholders is represented in the Group in the third generation by Stefan Messer, CEO, and by his son Marcel Messer, management consultant. The international activities are managed from Bad Soden near Frankfurt am Main.
Messer Group, together with CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (“CVC”), has acquired the majority of Linde AG’s gases business in North America and certain business activities of Linde and Praxair in South America through the joint venture Messer Industries GmbH with effect from March 1, 2019. In the next few years, the joint venture is to be integrated 100 percent into the family-owned Messer Group, creating a global gases group.
For more info, visit www.messergroup.com.
Press contact Wanko