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Ackermann Fahrzeugbau reached the era of e-business



November 2006 - IAS GmbH

Customers configure their products with CANIAS ERP Configurator on their own via a web portal

CANIAS ERP - Ackermann Fahrzeugbau For 155 years Ackermann Fahrzeugbau GmbH from Wolfhagen has been a well-known brand for sandwich plates, sandwich constructions and van body constructions. Since 1996 Ackermann is a subsidiary company of the principal shareholder GESCO AG. In former times and still today the company is known for its innovative ability and inventiveness in this sector. The willingness to use new materials and to develop intelligent constructions contributed to the fact that Ackermann owns nowadays the most modern installation for the production of CFC-free polyurethane sandwich plates. Also in future Ackermann Fahrzeugbau GmbH will call attention to itself by using innovative products.

Based on the highly modern standard software CANIAS ERP which is in use at Ackermann Fahrzeugbau already since 1998, Ackermann integrates its customers online in the business processes and starts the era of e-business in the own company. While the orders have been placed by fax or telephone so far which had to be transformed into bill of materials and work flow charts, Ackermann's customers nowadays access the extremely efficient product configurator via an online web portal called "Plan A" integrated in CANIAS ERP.

Thanks to the Java-based system architecture of CANIAS ERP all the applications can be operated via Internet without any costly additional software. Thus, two birds could be killed with one stone when the project "product configurator" was initiated at Ackermanns. The configurator was namely not only designed for the internal usage but also for being used via a portal on the homepage of Ackermann to which its customers have access with a password round the clock.

The basis of the configurator builds a maximum bill of materials, from which the customer choses and therefore designs its individual configuration. In the regulator, the centrepiece of the configurator, the respective attributes are stored in check tables and are linked with each other taking the corresponding logics into consideration. The plausibility control of valid and combinable options will be effected by the system at run time.

CANIAS ERP - Ackermanns
A pricing model stored in the regulator builds the basis for the quotation costing. To every option the respective price will be shown out of which the system will calculate the total customized price at the end of the configuration.

The electronically placed order produces automatically an offer in the central ERP-system. Apart from the general and type specific options the customer can add further options to its configuration which are not given in the maximum bill of materials but which are placed to the customer's disposal according to its expectations. Therefore, the system does not immediately create an order but at first an offer. Only after having checked the offer an confirmation of the order will be generated.

The aims of Ackermann to reduce the process time of orders, thus to raise the effectiveness and efficiency and at the same time to grant more flexibility to the customer and to achieve therefore, in turn, a higher customer loyalty could be highly fulfilled with the product configurator.

In the near future the integrated, highly functional MRP II in CANIAS ERP should also be involved so that the downstream processes for the providing of the depending requirements and for the production will also be automated. By pushing the integration further ahead this way, an even higher productivity of the business processes is expected.

The product configurator of CANIAS ERP is hardly considered as being beatable as regards flexibility and openness and brought Ackermann Fahrzeugbau again a step further in terms of innovation.

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