Export efficiencies: Dutch filter manufacturer automates export processes using enterprise-integrated documentation

Integrating QAD’s MFG/PRO enterprise application with theTRAXi3 transportation system from Precision Software—a vendor recently acquired by QAD—looked much too good to pass up for Dutch filters manufacturer Filtrair. And they were right.


Filtrair Finance Manager Johan Langius says thanks to smoother customs clearance enabled by a recent enterprise and transportation management systems integration project, the number of days that Filtrair’s goods spend in transit is significantly reduced.

Dutch manufacturer Filtrair specializes in making filters for demanding applications—automotive paint shops, medical facilities, and protecting sensitive manufacturing processes in food processing, pharmaceutical, and high-tech electronics plants. In business since 1965, filters from the company’s Heerenveen, Netherlands plant are shipped to more than 80 countries spread across Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
Yet when Filtrair Finance Manager Johan Langius joined the business three years ago, he recalls, the entire export documentation and shipping process ran on a small, antiquated DOS system supplemented by Microsoft Word and Excel templates.
“System proliferation was rife; there was a lot of double data entry; and a high level of errors,” Langius relates. It was difficult to interrogate the system, too, “which made it difficult to see where our income was coming from,” he adds.
It also was a time of change. In 2004, the business had been acquired by Joliet, Il.-headquartered Filtration Group, and a rollout of QAD ’s MFG/PRO enterprise application suite had been completed. And in 2006, as Langius began searching the marketplace for a better way of managing Filtrair’s export processes, QAD was changing, too—acquiring Dublin, Eire-based Precision Software , a vendor of the very capability that Langius was looking for.
The combined promise of improved functionality and tight integration with QAD was too good to miss, and Filtrair signed a contract to license Precision Software's TRAXi3 transportation management system.
The objectives were clear, explains Anne Jensen, European marketing manager for Precision. “TRAXi3 could cover Filtrair’s European and North American shipping requirements, as well as automate the production of Filtrair's export and shipping documentation,” she notes. “In addition, the ability to communicate electronically with Dutch Customs offered faster and more streamlined customs clearance.”
Going live in December 2006, the new system immediately delivered on its promise, reports Langius. The workflow engine ensured all the steps required to get a shipment out the door were made, with the correct documentation being produced promptly, leading to a smooth customs clearance and a timely delivery to the customer. In addition, the company’s distribution team was pleased that their process flows had been retained. Overall, notes Langius, thanks to faster and smoother customs clearance, there has been a reduction in the number of days that Filtrair’s goods spend in transit.
But in August, Filtrair made public some other metrics highlighting the scale of the improvements that the company has experienced, now that the system has “bedded in.” The tight integration with MFG/PRO, plus a configurable, rules-driven workflow, it turns out, eliminated completely the workload formerly associated with producing documentation such as customs declarations, bills of lading, and certificates of insurance.
In terms of employee numbers, explains Langius, “We’ve saved the equivalent of three full-time people.” What’s more, he adds, the level of errors was reduced by 90 percent, and customers complaints regarding incomplete and missing documents have fallen by 85 percent.”
Errors also were reduced in the submissions made to Dutch Customs: Previously subject to manual input, customs filings are now made electronically.
“It has saved time, reduced the possibility of mistakes being made during data entry, and improved our effectiveness,” Langius sums up.
It’s now the turn of North American plants within the group to benefit, with Filtrair in the Netherlands directly assisting them as they move more substantially onto the world stage, reports Langius.
“We’re delighted with the results we’ve seen here in Heerenveen,” he concludes. “We’re now rolling out to North America and our other facilities around the world, and anticipate similar gains.”

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.