Complete Overhaul of IT Profile

June 4, 2008 by Ralf M. Haaßengier

Mold construction at Reifen Ihle


Scarcely anyone else knows the tire market like Wolfgang Reif. The CEO of Günzburg-based Reifen Ihle has been in the business for over 46 years. His recipe for success is flexibility to ensure market needs can be responded to even at short notice. His many years of experience and committed customer service department help him meet demand without delay. For instance, the company’s own vehicle fleet supplies customers and branches with tires and accessories as and when they need them. Reifen Ihle also offers a mobile standby service that deals with haulage contractors’ vehicles on weekends. “Customers can come to one of our branches or we can go directly to them,” explains Reif. Also on offer in Germany’s Bavaria-Swabia region is a breakdown service. “We sell tires at the best possible price as well as offering a comprehensive service,” stresses Reif.

Customized industry software

The SAP Business All-in-One solution Tradesprint has been supporting the company’s business processes since 2007. The SAP industry software from cormeta ag is specially designed for the tire trade and contains key functions and processes. At Reifen Ihle, it replaced a heterogeneous IT landscape comprising several stand-alone solutions, whose numerous interfaces resulted in a high maintenance level.

In the words of Stefan März, head of controlling at Ihle, a key criterion for selecting the new software was that “we wanted a solution that supported our tire business at our head office in Günzburg and at our branches.” Reifen Ihle decided in favor of Tradesprint. One of the factors that impressed the company was that the solution had already proven itself in the sector. The integrated service cockpit was another attractive feature of Tradesprint.

The software’s high level of integration was a crucial factor for Wolfgang Reif: “This industry solution helps make our processes more efficient. We work more cost-effectively and save money. And that, in turn, has a positive effect on customers.” Among other things, Ihle can now process discounts and credit notes much more effectively. And ultimately, maintenance levels for software also fell thanks to integration.

“Control centers” for sales and service

At the heart of the tire trading software are two central user-specific “control centers”, or “cockpits”, that simplify working with the solution. While the sales cockpit is tailored to the processes in tire trading, the service cockpit covers customer service processes. Tradesprint therefore offers Ihle staff precisely targeted support for their respective operations. “Wholesale business is handled using the sales cockpit. Business with end users in the twelve branches is mapped via the service cockpit,” explains März.

The tire wholesale sales department at Ihle’s headquarters in Günzburg sees all relevant information on customers, products, and orders in a single mask. This makes “clicking” through various applications and screen masks a thing of the past. Key product data such as tire diameter, tire width, and speed index can also be displayed. For example, by using the cockpit it is possible to see at a glance how many tires of a particular type or size are in stock in Ihle’s warehouses.

The service cockpit integrates several processes from the service center into a single initial mask. Workshop orders and repairs can therefore be easily processed at the branches. The solution automatically produces a description of tasks for the engineer when a job is created. “Staff can now access their information about a job much faster,” remarks Reif happily. “The entire business process is clearly mapped in the Tradesprint service cockpit. Everything is included, from order acceptance to issuing an invoice to the end customer.” At Ihle’s suggestion, cormeta incorporated certain functions, e.g. integration of mobile service vehicles, into the cockpit. These are now available to customers as standard.

Overview at the touch of a button

Availability is of key importance at Ihle. The most popular tires are always in stock on the 30,000 square meters of storage space. The branches operate small consignment stores that are replenished as necessary. Stock control is performed in SAP by maintaining minimum stock levels. However, to ensure high inventory availability, these minimum stocks are generous. Ihle’s motto is: Better to have a tire too many than a dissatisfied customer.

Reif explains the benefits of the new solution for inventory management: “Tradesprint now enables us to calculate stock turnaround times much more effectively and efficiently. We know which products are running out and which ones are slow moving.” März adds that “in inventory management, we have a better overview of all branch warehouses – and can get this information at the touch of a button, too.” However, real-time range assessment offers Ihle yet another benefit. The in-house tire production team now knows exactly which stocks need replenishing and can plan production to optimum effect.

Tires on a roll

At the start of April, the online shop for B2B business was also opened using Tradesprint. Buyers at Ihle’s customers use the shop solution to check the availability of products and can order around the clock online. The advantage of SAP integration for Ihle is that job data for an order migrates directly into the SAP system. Here, too, nothing needs to be entered twice.

Everything is now running smoothly at Reifen Ihle and the software profile is a perfect fit. Yet revamping the IT environment is far from complete despite the introduction of SAP software in accounting, sales, and service. The company is already working on its next project – electronic data transfer with tire manufacturers. There are also plans to link production to the SAP system.

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