A Big Step For Rail As A Mode Of Transport
In order to achieve its goals of being able to act sovereignly and flexibly and to free itself from dependencies on individual rail transport companies [RUs] and empty wagon suppliers, K+S decided, among other things, to acquire its own wagon fleet. For the realignment, i.e. the monitoring and control of all rail-bound logistics processes, K+S needed an effective fleet management system. K+S wanted to digitalize wagon planning and optimize wagon and RU deployment with a custom-fit, SAP-based IT solution.
Since the realignment, the planning process for the goods has been based on the following principle:
- After the orders entered in SAP ERP are sent to SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM), the system determines the appropriate RU, taking planning specifications into account. In the collaborative planning of leogistics Rail, which is used in addition to SAP TM, order managers, fleet managers and dispatch departments at the various locations carry out detailed planning for the coming period.
- Operational train departures and arrivals are recorded in leogistics Rail. The integration of telematics data and geofences enables real-time monitoring of wagon stocks and locations.
- The connection of the RU to the planning and dispatching system increases the degree of automation and improves communication between the process participants.
- By using appropriate monitoring and reporting dashboards for wagons and trains, all movements can be monitored. This leads to fast response times in exceptional situations.
K + S
K+S AG is a supplier of mineral products for the agricultural, industrial, consumer and municipal sectors. K+S serves the growing demand from production sites in Europe, North and South America as well as a global distribution network. The transport and logistics sector is of particular importance: The Group transports more than 50 million tons of goods per year.
Approach In The Project
The project was preceded by an analysis of the current situation. In order to counteract impending bottlenecks in the availability of transport space, investments were made in the acquisition of a dedicated wagon fleet. Wagons were built to special specifications and additional RUs were selected. However, new requirements also go hand in hand with the company’s own fleet: Wagons must be used optimally and empty runs must be avoided!
Solutions for new requirements
To meet the new challenges of the company’s own fleet, a large number of new processes had to be defined and integrated into the existing IT architecture:
Planning trains for the coming period requires a great deal of coordination between customer service, fleet management, dispatch at the individual sites, and external partners. In the collaborative planning process, the many parties involved can plan and interact together. Planning is transparent at all times and is adjusted, completed and checked step by step.
Empty Trolley Planning
The use of own wagons offers a lot of flexibility and at the same time brings with it the complex task of scheduling them as best as possible for subsequent processes after unloading at the destination as well as reducing downtimes.
Empty wagon planning in leogistics Rail provides K+S with a graphical overview of the actual and forecast stock of wagons per location. Surplus and shortages are visible to the user at a glance. The system automatically suggests to which location the empty wagons should be returned.
Trolley Management And Tracking
In addition to tabular overviews and wagon inventories, each individual wagon can also be monitored via a map-based application. The current location and other information from the telematics units installed on the wagons can thus be viewed transparently and conveniently by fleet management at any time. With the help of geofences and the current location information, arrivals and departures of wagons are automatically booked for the respective location. Train arrivals and departures are also automatically recorded in this way. Damaged wagons can be recorded directly on the track via a mobile app and damage can be documented.
Added Value Through Integration
In addition to the internal process participants, one focus was on the integration of external players. DB Cargo and other RUs, telematics service providers and the wagon keeper were connected to the system.
- DB Cargo reports empty wagon additions to the locations, the train status and receives empty wagon orders in addition to freight orders.
- RUs receive weekly schedules and rail freight orders.
- Customers receive information about scheduled trains.
- The wagon owner sends master data records for new wagons and data for upcoming revisions.
- The telematics service provider supplies K+S with GPS and important status information of the individual wagons.