Making Light Work of Heavyweight Orders

Feature Article | July 17, 2009 by Michael Müller

Business is booming at AGCO/Fendt. In its first decade, some 75 years ago, Fendt shipped 100 of its Dieselross tractors. Last year, orders for the trademark brand broke the 15,000 mark. A tractor manufacturer with a long tradition, Fendt has been part of the global agricultural machinery group AGCO Corporation since 1997. Fendt is positioned as the group’s high-tech brand – equipped to meet the very highest of demands. Unlike the Dieselross tractors of the past, today’s high-tech machines are highly developed industrial goods, made to measure according to precise customer requirements.

More demand – more faxes

Build-to-order manufacturing requires a communications architecture that is durable, flexible, and reliable. All modules and components – from the power transmission to the smallest screw – have to be ordered from different suppliers, and delivered, at exactly the right time. To help it meet this tight schedule, AGCO/Fendt has been using SAP for many years at its three German sites in Marktoberdorf, Asbach-Bäumenheim, and Kempten.
At Fendt, a total of twelve SAP production systems generate customer orders, delivery schedules, and order confirmations, alongside numerous other processes. An increasingly differentiated value chain has brought a dramatic rise in the number of workflows. Just a few years ago, a monthly load of up to 10,000 processes were being generated by fax in the SAP systems. Today this number amounts to some 50,000.

This increase to tens of thousand of faxes every month soon took its toll on the company’s existing fax server solution. AGCO/Fendt had to decide – and fast – whether their in-house solution was worth saving. In the search for a more economical and powerful alternative, the company made the bold decision to outsource its entire fax facility for SAP business documents to messaging specialist Retarus.

Unlimited faxing – swift and sure

Three key criteria prompted AGCO/Fendt to choose a managed fax service from Retarus:

  1. Instant processing of large fax volumes
  2. Transmission of automatically generated fax confirmations to the SAP systems
  3. Rapid return on investment (ROI)

After a short test phase, it was only a matter of days before the company’s SAP production systems were fully connected to the Retarus solution.

With no need to free up capacity for a fax connection or server, AGCO/Fendt’s SAP systems can now transfer fax orders directly to the fax infrastructure at the Retarus data center. There, faxes are processed quickly and securely 24/7 – all without bottlenecks. An encrypted connection protects sensitive business data, while detailed delivery reports and process confirmations, sent to the SAP systems, make all transactions and subsequent workflows fully transparent.

The service is also “Unicode-ready”. Business documents with different character sets are sent and received directly from the SAP systems, as well as being integrated with cross-company and international business processes.

Managed services

With this type of partial outsourcing, individual IT services – primarily from the areas of information or communication – are outsourced to external providers. Customers can access services as and when they need them.

The main drive of the project for AGCO/Fendt was a rapid return on investment. The company didn’t have to wait long – with costs for its fax infrastructure, personnel, and maintenance transferred to its external provider. AGCO/Fendt now also enjoys greater stability in its planning and a higher level of cost transparency – all thanks to an attractive “pay-per-use” pricing model, whereby the company only pays literally for what it uses.

Always at the ready

High flexibility and scalability are an added plus of a managed fax service. Retarus takes care of the necessary capacities and monitoring, while ensuring the permanent availability of the service at its data center. Increases in the volume of faxes or sudden peaks in demand are no longer an issue.

The integration of the AGCO/Fendt’s entire supplier base into the supply chain makes for a peaceful production process and a constant readiness to supply – literally on demand. The company is armed and ready for the coming business year, in which more than 17,000 tractors are set to roll off the assembly line.

AGCO/Fendt

The AGCO Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tractors and agricultural equipment, including combine harvesters, hay tools, sprayers, forage and tillage equipment. The company works with more than 3,000 independent dealers, distributors, and license owners in over 140 countries around the world.

Within the AGCO group, long-standing German manufacturer Fendt, headquartered in Marktoberdorf, has been positioned as the corporation’s high-tech brand since 1997. As the Fendt brand has grown, so has the number of employees. By the end of 2008, employee numbers had reached 3,321 – some 241 more than the previous year.

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