Hamburg, 07.12.2020-K+S AG has decided to acquire its own fleet of wagons. In digitizing its fleet management, the internationally oriented raw materials company with production sites in Europe, North and South America received support from leogistics GmbH, a leading global partner in the design and implementation of digital software solutions for logistics and supply chain management. The goal was to be able to act confidently and flexibly and to break free from dependencies on individual rail transport companies (RUs) and empty wagon suppliers. K+S needed an effective fleet management system to monitor and control all rail-based logistics processes. With a custom-fit IT solution consisting of SAP TM and leogistics Rail, wagon planning was digitalized and wagon deployment optimized. Wagons are now available at the right time and in the right place. While SAP TM focuses on strategic planning and accounting, leogistics Rail, as part of the leogistics digital supply chain (d.s.c.), additionally enables the operational planning, execution and evaluation of transports by rail. After going live at a pilot site, the system was rolled out to other K+S sites in Germany in the near future. Plans are currently underway to also connect sites in Europe and North America to the new system.
“In the area of factory rail and rail logistics, we have built up strong expertise over the past few years and offer process knowledge and experience with the SAP standard tool TM in combination with our own solution leogistics Rail. We are pleased that we were able to successfully support K+S in this project. The potential of the company’s own wagon fleet will now be fully unleashed through the introduction of customized software,” expresses André Käber, CEO of leogistics GmbH.
“Thanks to the digitalization of our fleet management, we have been able to significantly reduce the operating costs for the rail mode of transport. The transparency and flexibility gained by using leogistics Rail has meant that we can plan and deploy our wagon fleet effectively. The wagons are now steered just in time to the respective locations where they are needed. This allows us to minimize downtimes and keep a better eye on turnaround times,” adds Agnes Schneider, Head of Logistics Execution at K+S AG.
Independence through own fleet of wagons and the challenges
By building up its own wagon fleet, K+S responded to the general decline in wagon availability and the associated transport bottlenecks on the market. The use of various RUs also makes it possible to serve freight transport points that are located in regions outside the main hubs for rail transport. Thus, wagons were built according to special specifications of K+S and additional RUs were sought. Since then, the respective journeys have been put out to tender by K+S and awarded according to its own specifications. The challenge was to make optimum use of all the wagons and to avoid empty runs. To achieve this, a large number of new processes had to be defined at the start of the project and integrated into the existing IT architecture. These included transport demand planning, weekly planning, empty wagon planning and wagon management. The specially developed wagons are equipped with a telematics system. By means of the new software, a precise location determination can be carried out at any time.
Integration of external actors
In addition to the internal process participants, one focus was on the integration of external players. In addition to DB Cargo, other RUs, the telematics system and the wagon keeper were connected to the system. DB Cargo reports empty wagon shipments and train status and receives weekly schedules and rail freight orders. Other RUs also receive their rail freight orders and weekly schedules via the new system. Customers, in turn, are informed about scheduled trains at an early stage. The wagon keeper sends master data records for new wagons and data for upcoming revisions, while the telematics service provider supplies K+S with GPS information and important status information of the individual wagons.
In a follow-up project, the new solution will be rolled out step by step. In parallel, the functionalities will be expanded and optimized on the basis of the experience gained. The use of the company’s own wagon fleet is already paying off and K+S is planning to add additional wagon types to the fleet.
By using further leogistics Rail standard functionalities for digital track management and shunting scheduling, the use of tracks and loading points is also to be optimized and capacity created for additional, environmentally friendly rail transport. In addition, K+S and leogistics Standard Development continue to work together on innovation topics relating to rail as a mode of transport.