Automation and workflow in logistics

Opportunities and risks

Machines that do all the heavy and/or unpleasant work have been a dream of man since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 18th century. In the early 1920s, it even gave rise to its own genre: science fiction. Space travel, the developments of a distant future and alien civilizations were suddenly topics in art and culture, and thanks to the Internet, artificial intelligence and quantum computers, those topics are more hyped today than ever before.

Have fun scrolling!

Index

Editorial

Dear customers, partners and friends of LIS AG,...

Automation is not science fiction

The digitalisation of logistics processes has never been so easy.

Expert interview

Automotive - the pinnacle of logistics?

Lissy's Column

Digital - safe and secure!

Workflow manager defines and automates workflows

New WinSped module for routine workflow

Workflows at Schnellecke Transportlogistik

WinSped as a building block of a long-term automation and digitalisation strategy.

LIS Employee portrait

A chat with Lucas Weckermann.

LIS-LCP-Kursraum

A lifetime to learn!

LIS Workshops

LIS-LCP-Kursraum

Tips and tricks

Useful tips and tricks for the use of WinSped®.

Socialstream: #Workflowmanagement

Twitter, LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok: What is being said on social media?

Our references

An selection of our customers.

Editorial

Dear customers, partners and friends of the LIS AG,

The unholy synergy of pandemic, war and staff shortages is hurting global supply chains extremely. The multi-week lockdown in Shanghai, the lack of sea containers that are piling up in Russian ports due to the sanctions, and the lack of truck drivers everywhere have brought supplies to a standstill in many areas. Some components and parts were and are even not available at all for an indefinite period.

The situation in the economy, especially in logistics, is therefore – to put it mildly – complicated. Companies that succeed in fully utilizing their capacities in this situation without loosing any potential have a clear advantage. In this context, the automation of workflows and processes is of growing importance. That is why we at LIS AG have devoted a lot of attention to this topic in recent months and developed a workflow manager for our TMS Winsped. With it, many routine tasks can be automated easily and without much effort. Thanks to our new development, the employees in the dispatching departments of forwarding agencies and transport companies gain time that they can spend on more important tasks, such as communication with the customer.

However, automating workflows not only saves time. It also helps to sustainably reduce the error rate, improve the flow of orders and increase the overall speed of processes. As a result, this means nothing less than a noticeable and measurable increase in quality.

As you would expect from products from our company, our new Workflow Manager is also designed to be as user-friendly as possible. We have developed a graphical interface that allows users to design and define the relevant processes themselves, individually and without any programming knowledge. The best thing is to try it out for yourself. From now on, the Workflow Manager is an integral part of WinSped. We are sure: You will be thrilled!

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If you now scroll down, you will find an overview of the multimedia articles we have compiled for you in this issue on the topic of automation and workflow.

We hope you enjoy clicking through! And of course: stay healthy!

Automation is not science fiction

Digitizing logistics processes has never been simpler

Machines that do all the heavy and/or unpleasant work have been a dream of man since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 18th century. In the early 1920s, it even gave rise to its own genre: science fiction. Space travel, the developments of a distant future and alien civilizations were suddenly topics in art and culture, and thanks to the Internet, artificial intelligence and quantum computers, those topics are more hyped today than ever before.

In fact, one can only wonder at times how accurate some authors’ and filmmakers’ imagination of the future was. Much of what was still considered a crazy idea of a presumably overstimulated contemporary  yesterday is now everyday life. For many people, the morning coffee of their choice has long since come from a vending machine, lunch is served by a Thermomix, the lawn is kept to length by a robot, the dust is vacuumed off the floor by robot vacuum cleaners , and the laundry is washed and dried by machine. Entire houses can now be operated remotely by smartphone – from heating to the front door, and from anywhere in the world. And the next step in technological evolution is already on the horizon: cars that autonomously maneuver their passengers through traffic, and virtual worlds in which people can move around with a few technical aids just like in real life.

New possibilities – as well in logistics

Both developments offer new opportunities – also for logistics, be it order picking supported by augmented reality applications, delivery by drone or the use of autonomous warehouse vehicles. The prerequisite, however, is end-to-end digitization across the board. However, the industry is still a long way from this state. In many companies, communication is still paper-based or verbal via telephone. This inhibits the flow of information. We, LIS Logistische Informationssysteme AG, have been offering solutions to this problem for many years. As one of the pioneers in this field, our WinSped program range today covers almost every logistical process – from automotive to silo logistics. The special feature of WinSped is its modular architecture. The individual components are standardized, but consistently compatible with each other, so that an individual system can still be configured with little effort, adapted to the respective requirements.

Configure, automate and accelerate status-based workflows

Our two new developments Workflow Manager and Scripting Engine, which have recently become an integral part of WinSped, also promise to make the automation of forwarding processes even easier. With the Workflow Manager, all status-based processes can be freely configured, automated and thus considerably accelerated. For example, the new tool can be used to specify that Customer Service is notified immediately by e-mail as soon as acceptance of a shipment has been refused. The Workflow Manager now automatically initiates the next steps: Why was acceptance refused? What should happen next with the shipment? This routine runs until the process is completed.

Customize programming without programming knowledge – thanks to low-code technology

The Scripting Engine, which has been integrated in WinSped since recently, even allows the user to adapt the behavior of his WinSped himself and to adjust it individually to his needs. Programming knowledge or assistance from LIS support is not required for this, since the Scripting Engine has a graphical user interface and can be operated via drag-and-drop. In this way, users can easily change any values of their data, set warnings, send e-mails, automate printouts and calculate fields. A change request is not necessary, and there are no additional costs or waiting times.

Data always secure and available

By the way, we ensure the required security and availability of the data at all times by operating our own data center. In other words: It has never been easier to digitize and automate freight forwarding processes.

Expert interview

Automotive – the pinnacle of logistics?

Automotive logistics is demanding, prestigious and nerve-racking – in a way, the wonder and worry child of a logistics provider at the same time. One person who knows every wish and worry of these customers is Elmar Fiedeldey – our Automotive Department Head. We spoke with him.

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Digital – safe and secure!

Topics such as data and analytics, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are the new trendsetters.

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Workflow Manager defines and automates workflows

New WinSped module allows routine workflows

Routines and recurring processes can be found in abundance in logistics – be it in order entry, route planning, loading space optimization, route optimization in the warehouse or invoicing. Instead of going through the same workflow for each order individually, it makes sense to underlay it with a set of rules: If A happens, B follows. If, on the other hand, C happens, the next step must be D.

This is exactly what our new module, the Workflow Manager, which is now an integral part of WinSped, allows. With it, all status-based processes can be freely configured, automated and thus considerably accelerated. Users can freely define and create their own routines.

Workflow

Possible examples can be:

Refusal of a delivery

Acceptance of a delivery is refused. Customer Service is then notified immediately by e-mail. The Workflow Manager now automatically initiates the next steps: Why was acceptance refused? What should happen next with the shipment?
This routine runs until the process is completed.

  • Refusal of delivery → Assign new deliverey
    OR
  • Return order
    OR
  • Disposal order
    OR
  • Storage order
    OR
  • Sale of goods order

Incoming invoice

A new invoice has been received. The relevant clerk is then determined and checks the invoice. The Workflow Manager now automatically initiates the next steps: Is the invoice correct, can it be released and paid, or is it incorrect and must be rejected? Should a correction be requested?

  • Invoice receipt → Invoice verification → Payment authorization
    OR
  • Rejection → Correction request
    OR
  • Unjustified rejection → Unbooked documentation by financial accounting department

WinSped® as a building block of a long-term automation and digitization strategy

Hardly any manual workflows left in transport management at Schnellecke Transportlogistik

“In 2015, we were looking for a partner with whom we could implement our automation and digitization strategy in transport management as well,” says Mandy Beck, Head of Operational Excellence & Procurement Transport at Schnellecke Transportlogistik GmbH. The goal was to unify all transport processes in one software and to integrate additional systems. All 525 employees should be able to work with the same system instead of using different solutions.

Schnellecke Transportlogistik is a leading expert in area freight forwarding – other business areas include consumer goods, industry and retail. For customers such as VW, Daimler and MAN – but also Amazon and IKEA – the company puts around 800 tours on the road every day. Up to 405 tractor units and 490 towed units from the company’s own fleet, as well as additional vehicles from subcontractors, have to be dispatched.

Automated transport management and optimal workflows

For this purpose, the transport service provider has been using our transport management system (TMS) since July 2016. Beck: “All standard processes related to transport are 100 percent integrated in WinSped and are processed in an interlocking manner.” All modules required from order entry to damage and complaint processing are in use and connected to other departments of the company via various interfaces. Many once manual processes have now been automated. “Our workflows have improved significantly as a result,” says Beck.

Examples of automated processes:

Invoicing

Freight invoicing creates documents in WinSped that are automatically transferred to the SAP Finance program so that the financial data is available in both applications.

Vehicle data from the company’s own vehicles enters the TMS via an interface between WinSped and Telematics. Schnellecke Transportlogistik connects the telematics of around 110 third-party vehicles to WinSped via AppSped. In this way, the freight forwarder tracks non-self-driven tours in the automotive sector in order to provide OEMs with an ETA in accordance with the VDA (abbrevation for German Association of the Automotive Industry)  standard.

WebSped replaces the mail traffic between fixed subcontractors and Schnellecke Transportlogistik, where, for example, freight documents can be uploaded and credit notes can be retrieved.

We are currently working on an interface to a workshop software to be able to connect commercial vehicle workshops to the TMS.

The Automotive Center, which we developed with Schnellecke Transportlogistik in 2016, supports the VDA plant structures. Among other things, this means that VDA master data is integrated and VDA plant orders, time slot management, and demurrage billing are supported. This means that orders in the automotive sector can be recorded and scheduled completely digitally.

Cloud Service for optimal workflows

A major step forward for Schnellecke Transportlogistik was the switch to our cloud service. Since 2021, we have been hosting WinSped for the freight forwarding company and the employees use the software via the web client. The cloud service includes access to all modules of the TMS plus hosting on our servers in Greven, automatic updates, data backup and maintenance. Beck finds this optimal: “WinSped is completely the responsibility of LIS. This simplifies our internal workflows immensely.” If additional storage space is needed, Schnellecke Transportlogistik does not have to call in the internal IT experts; we take care of it. We also proactively monitor the performance of the hardware and automatically optimize it as needed without our customers noticing.

“Our automation and digitization strategy is a long-term project and we are not yet where we want to be, even with WinSped,” says Beck. “But we are convinced that we will get there with LIS.” Beck, who was there when we first got in touch back in 2015, particularly appreciates the collaborative partnership and the motivation to develop together. “We’ve never been told something can’t be done,” she says. If processes change, work is done to ensure that the modules can map the new work steps.

About Schnellecke Transportlogistik

Schnellecke Transportlogistik GmbH is part of Schnellecke Logistics SE. The company has made a name for itself worldwide as a service provider for automotive logistics and is an expert in area freight forwarding. The company employs 525 people at five locations, three of which are in Germany and one each in Spain and Slovakia. In addition to vehicle parts for car and commercial vehicle manufacturers, which account for by far the largest share of the total volume, the freight forwarder transports and stores dry freight, beverages and FMCG products. For this purpose, 405 towing and 490 towed units are available and 31,000 square meters of warehouse space is managed.
Schnellecke Transportlogistik has been a LIS customer since 2016 and has been using the software via our cloud since 2021. WinSped, AppSped and WebSped are in use. The Automotive Center module is used most frequently.

LIS employee portrait

A chat with Lucas Weckermann

Lucas Weckermann has been part of the LIS AG team since 2014. The 27-year-old native of Münster develops software in the field of billing, has a passion for geocaching and has been volunteering for the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) for many years. He travels to work by train and, of course, by bicycle. Because sustainability is important to him. We met Lucas Weckermann for a chat.

Early practice makes the master

He developed a soft spot for computers while still in school. He taught himself how to program, still in Java at the time, with the help of video tutorials and lots of think books. One of his first projects, Weckermann remembers, was a plug-in for the server he and his brother used to play Minecraft – which, by the way, is still the best-selling computer game today.

The way to LIS

But Lucas Weckermann jokes and says he was not a real nerd, if we consider a nerd as someone who spends his days in a dark room in front of a blue monitor light. His three siblings had already protected him from that. Nevertheless, the advanced computer science course he later took at the Annette Gymnasium in Münster was no particular challenge for him. “Basically, I didn’t learn much new there.” In 2014, the now 27-year-old finally joined LIS AG, where he completed a dual study program in computer science with training as an IT specialist for application development. He then went on to complete a master’s degree in computer science from 2018 to 2021.

Taking the lead

At LIS today, he is not only responsible for programming in the invoicing area, but he is also mentoring a trainee. There is no doubt that he has the necessary soft skills for this. After all, as an instructor and examiner for basic training at the THW , he has years of experience in people management. As a squad leader, he is also responsible for a recovery group with which he has already been on numerous missions, such as the flooding in Swisttal in July 2021. “In such situations, the way to communicate with each other is elementary,” Lucas Weckermann reports.
The 27-year-old likes to spend his rare free time out in the fresh air – geocaching. He can’t do it without a computer, even if it’s a pocket calculator.

A lifetime to learn!

Software-workshops for WinSped®

If you would like to dig deeper into our products after reading LIS4U, we recommend the following training courses. After all, the software can only be used to its full potential if you know how to use it correctly.

You can register easily here.

LCP WinSped® Loading device management

When:
15. - 16. November 2022

Location:
Online

LIS-LCP-Kursraum

LCP WinSped® Basis

Wann:
05. - 09. Dezember 2022

Location:
Greven

LCP WinSped® DMS

When:
17. - 18. Januar 2023

Location:
Online

Live-Webinar LIS Warehouse Management®

When:
22. November 2022

Location:
Online

Tips and tricks

Useful hints for the use of WinSped®

You use WinSped on a daily basis? Then simplify your own work and have a look at the following tutorials. In them we show you how to use helpful keyboard shortcuts to speed up the processing of your daily tasks.

Do you have further questions? No problem! Just contact our support as usual.
We are also always open for ideas and suggestions for which workflow you would like to know more tricks. Just send us an e-mail to lis4u@lis.eu.

Open search masks

Do you already know the quick way to open our search masks? Simply move the cursor into a search field and press the F4 key.

TippF4

Tipp AltF4

Close search masks

Do you want to close a search mask without using the mouse? Just press Alt and the F4 key. The window will now be closed immediately.

Open search field configuration

Do you want to customize the contents of a search field, for example, to be able to search for additional database fields in the future? Then use our search field configuration. Simply place the cursor inside the respective search field and press “Ctrl” and F4.

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Socialstream: #Workflowmanagement

Twitter, LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok: What is being said on social media?

On our social stream, we collect posts from various social networks that deal with the cover topic of LIS4U.
This time: Workflow(management).

Instagram

The three steps of Workflowmanagements:

Twitter

Step 1 "Organize" is already difficult, isn't it? Process mining is the order of the day!

LinkedIn

What helps to clear the tangled mess of processes: A visualization of all paths. And this is the best way to do it:

LinkedIn

Ask yourself: Which workflow is so relevant that it represents the aorta of your business?

Facebook

A different kind of workflow diagram

Twitter

Automation is part of good workflow management - Drake agrees:

A selection of our customers

Neptun Freight Services GmbH

Schnellecke Logistics SE

Hammer GmbH & Co. KG

Elflein Holding GmbH

Transports Guyamier SARL

Logo of Morawiec Transport

Morawiec Transport Sp. z o.o

Logo of Morawiec Transport

Van Duuren Districenters B.V.