Infor has announced that it will implement its warehouse management solution at Ford-Werke in seven European countries. The solution will automate the operating processes that transfer goods between Fords ten cross-docking centers (ODC’s). Historically Ford has operated SAP solutions in both Europe and the rest of the World. A US based SAP implementation for logistics is rolling out across the rest of the world. In Europe a SAP SCM (Version 5.0) solution was only installed a few years ago.
Cloud is a key advantage
It is surprising Ford has elected not to go with the global SAP solution, following the One Ford strategy. However, consolidation onto one platform seems to have taken a backseat to “riding the technology curve” with Ford adopting a cloud solution from Infor. The advantage of the Infor cloud-based solution is that Ford can open it up to partners to securely access the system. These partners will include local logistics suppliers such as those operating between Cologne or Saarlouis. Hundreds of truck move parts between warehouses to ensure that there are consistent just-in-time supplies to the manufacturing plants that Ford operates across Europe.
Infor will implement the solution in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the United Kingdom. Ford will digitize all ten ODC’s. One of those partners include Caterpillar who also use GT Nexus for their global logistics platform. It seems likely that part of this deal includes the integration between Infor SCM and GT Nexus.
End to end logistics
This will create an end to end logistics solution for Ford and increase visibility of the supply chain. Part of the project includes the installation of scanning equipment. This will enable Ford to scan delivery notes, match against shipments and allow them to produce the subsequent distribution shipping orders. This also enables large shipments to be broken down and shipped to multiple warehouses across the continent, where the parts are needed most.
Exceptions will also be handled digitally. If goods are damaged the information is recorded digitally, including images. It will initiate not only the complaint procedure but also where necessary the replacement parts order. The aim is to reduce the storage time of parts so they are shipped more efficiently to final assembly destinations. Infor SCE is also available in those manufacturing plant so that workers there can identify when and how many components are arriving.
Real time analytics
The solution, once implemented should increase the efficiency of the logistics operation. Additionally, it will give Ford real-time visibility of the entire inbound supply chain. All data points will be stored in a single repository. Ford will use analytics to identify underlying performance trends in internal operations, logistics partners and suppliers. These insights will enable the identification of potential improvements, and these actioned.
Michael Weidel, Director of Supply Chain Management at Infor for the DACH region commented: “The automotive industry is in a state of change. Now it is important to further optimize the margin situation for the current car models in order to prepare for future developments in electronic mobility. It is therefore essential that car manufacturers efficiently integrate their suppliers and logistics service providers into logistics networks to gain further efficiency and alignment in the supply chain. Cloud applications such as Infor SCE enable this collaboration. Ford will soon be able to make the processes at its cross-docking centers across Europe more efficient, cost-effective and transparent.”
If Infor prove the solution is successful in Europe they will hope that the US will reconsider their use of SAP for warehouse management. The integration with GT Nexus is key to this decision. If Ford improves the efficiency of the European organisations significantly this could persuade Ford to take another look. It will be interesting to follow the implementation of this solution and the benefits that Ford gains as it progresses.