Efficient logistics, especially for transportation, is one of the key functions of any military organization, and it is also true for the Bundeswehr. Its involvement in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan is just one example. Within a very short period of time, in early 2002 the Bundeswehr deployed to Kabul troops and supplies for a contingent of 1,200 military personnel. During the course of that year, several thousand tons of supplies, including heavy material like mine-proof DINGO armored personnel carriers, were transported over distance of more than 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers).
In peacetime as in wartime, the Bundeswehr is continuously called upon to transport men and materiel from one place to another – usually under time constraints. A wide variety of goods – general cargo, personnel, domestic transportation, international transportation, overseas deployment of cargo, bulk goods, heavy cargo, or hazardous material of various classes – must be transported in various ways. This focus on the key strengths of the Bundeswehr should be seen in light of Bundeswehr reform in general and the new tasks that have been assigned to it.
Strategic focus on SAP
The decision to use SAP R/3 for materials handling did not come as a surprise because it is the Bundeswehr’s strategy to implement SAP software across the board in years to come. The convincing and comprehensive concept of Mummert Consulting AG and the cost transparency provided by the Hellmann Worldwide Logistics vendor consortium and Mummert have confirmed this strategy.
Transport and logistics management of the newly created Logistics Center of the Bundeswehr carried out the reorganization. “The core of our strategy was to achieve cost efficiency of the Bundeswehr’s transportation management within given parameters using SAP R/3,” says Colonel Thomas Schuck, department head of transport and transportation at the Logistics Center of the Bundeswehr. Another goal was to view across-the-board cost-effectiveness of the transportation capabilities of the three branches of the German Armed Forces – Army, Air Force, and Navy. Furthermore, civilian service providers were to be involved as much as possible. Therefore, the new solution contains interfaces to export data into third-party systems, as agreed upon with the civilian partners.
The project was divided into three parts. Phase 1 (from September 2001 to March 2002) dealt with as-is analysis and then a target concept. First, the processes of transportation in the Bundeswehr were identified, analyzed, and evaluated. In its initial plan for IT implementation, the Bundeswehr had originally favored SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization (SAP APO). However, “this tool was not able to model Bundeswehr-specific requirements, such as broken-down avenues of transportation with more than two delivery vehicles or reloading if capacity of the transportation vehicle is exceeded,” says Olaf Lehmann, sub-project manager at IT Mummert. For this reason, the Bundeswehr’s fallback decision was SAP R/3.
In Phase 2 (from April 2002 to March 2003), the plan was implemented organizationally and technically, initially for the German states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Bremen. Transportation for the three branches of the service is now being carried out by the Logistics Center of the Bundeswehr, which is located in Wilhelmshaven. Requirements for transportation are now combined in the Logistics Center. These applications run on SAP R/3 sales, logistics execution, and materials management components. Transportation order entry and road transport scheduling were the first to go live in October 2002, followed by transportation by air, rail, and sea. The last area, personnel transports by bus, was included in the SAP solution in March 2003.
The realization phase was concluded on time, and the functionality of the software was confirmed in very detailed tests. “As early as this phase, we were able to reduce costs by 15%, already reaching our first goal: improving cost-effectiveness,” says Matthias Martens, project manager at Mummert Consulting, in a preliminary report.
Phase 3 ran from April 2003 to April 2004. In this last phase, the functionality and performance of the solution was optimized further. With the exception of special situations, such as air transportation to areas of deployment, transportation is now carried out using the SAP solution.