Cool Chain Control

Customized TMS ensures smooth transport of medicines at Frigo-Trans

Fußgönheim, located west of Mannheim in the Rhein-Pfalz district, has a population of just under 2,500. Nevertheless, there is a good reason why Frigo-Trans GmbH has set up its headquarters precisely here in this rural idyll: the village is strategically located in an extremely favorable position for the logistics company not far from the Ludwigshafen freeway junction, where the A61 and A650 meet. Great importance is also attached to the topic of infrastructure at Frigo-Trans in another place, namely in IT.

The logistics specialist recognized years ago that the smooth exchange of data between all transport participants is becoming increasingly important – and invested accordingly. Among other things, the company purchased the WinSped transport management system from Logistische Informationssysteme AG (LIS) in Greven. Eleven years have passed and, in retrospect, it has proven to be the right decision. “The flexible application has proven itself very well and has been adapted again and again for us in the meantime, so that in the meantime it is actually our own Frigo-Trans variant specially designed for our needs,” reports Anke Huber from Frigo-Trans Project Management.

Complex requirements profile

The reason for this is primarily the complex requirements profile of the logistics provider, whose specialty is temperature-controlled transport. This obligates the company, for example, to provide seamless verifiable monitoring and documentation of the pharmaceutical cold chain. “Our customers naturally want to know whether we are complying with the specifications and expect a KPI report once a month, for example. We can create this automatically via WinSped,” explains Huber. In addition, the company works in the so-called hub-and-spoke system. This means that the drivers take the goods, mostly sensitive pharmaceutical products, from the customer and transport them in the specified temperature range to one of the Frigo Trans warehouses. There, the goods are re-picked for each customer and each recipient, and then distributed throughout Europe in the follow-up. Behind this is an immense flow of data. Christian Hubach, Import Team Leader at Frigo-Trans: “Mapping these processes in a system is complicated. That’s why we need a powerful application that allows individual customizations, and a manufacturer who is willing and able to make them for us.” When it came to supplementing the existing system with a software-as-a-service solution in line with technical developments and customer requirements, Frigo-Trans first took a closer look at the LIS product range – and quickly found what they were looking for. Because for some time now, the web-based TMS WebSped has complemented the portfolio of the Greven-based software manufacturer.

Every interface is a potential risk

The application’s large scope of services, the good experience the Rhineland-Palatinate company had had with WinSped in the past, and the high compatibility of the two systems were the decisive reasons why the selection process was over before it had really begun. Last but not least, an important criterion for the quick decision in favor of WebSped had been the interface problems. “Each interface not only means additional effort and thus additional costs, but also represents a potential risk for the data streams. That’s why we wanted a solution that would fit as seamlessly as possible into the existing WinSped configuration,” Hubach explains. And WebSped, which is built on top of WinSped, fulfills this requirement better than any other application on the market, he adds.

The next step was to install the LIS system on a Frigo Trans test environment. Without having to fear causing irreparable damage, the employees of the logistics specialist were able to put the system through its paces there, familiarize themselves with the processes and get used to the routines. It was an advantage that the handling essentially corresponds to that of WinSped. Lengthy training courses were therefore not necessary. Huber: “The introduction proceeded according to the ‘train the trainer’ principle, i.e. via Teamviewer with the experts at our company, who then in turn instructed their colleagues.”

Positive impact on quality

The company finally put the new system into operation last October. With it, Frigo-Trans customers equipped with a WebSped account can now independently submit orders to the logistics provider’s TMS in a matter of seconds using an order entry screen that has been reduced to the essential fields. After the order has been approved by an authorized Frigo-Trans employee, the order confirmation and the corresponding barcode labels are automatically sent to the parties involved via e-mail. From this moment on, the order is available to the dispatching department for scheduling. By labeling with the Frigo-Trans barcodes, the goods can then be scanned in the receiving department without the need for another manual labeling. “Of the 200 or so orders we receive every day, about 60 are already entered directly via WebSped,” Hubach describes. This not only saves work and time, but also has a positive effect on quality. Communicative misunderstandings are ruled out in this way.

Frigo-Trans customers can not only transmit orders independently via WebSped, but also track and trace their transports – soon including temperature evaluation. “This is important for us insofar as this option is increasingly being made a condition for the awarding of a contract by shippers,” explains Huber. As with WinSped, there have also been various adjustments to WebSped since its introduction in October 2018, which essentially resulted from daily work or following indications from shippers. At this point, they had benefited greatly from the good cooperation with the LIS project management, so that despite the numerous changes, there had been no serious downtime. “The system is running well and is stable,” concludes Hubach.