Delivery note with digital pen and paper
maxit building materials GmbH
In 2011, the company maxit Baustoffwerke GmbH from Krölpa was looking for a solution to manage the increasing quantity of delivery notes and at the same time to be able to better serve its customers. In addition, a uniform and central solution had to be found for the five plants concerned. This was solved with a digital pen, which writes on normal paper and at the same time digitizes the written text. After the delivery note is filled out on site, the data is sent via mobile phone to the central office for immediate further processing.
maxit Baustoffwerke GmbH is an internationally operating company with over 500 employees at 8 locations. In addition to dry mortar, maxit has developed an extensive product range for carcassing, finishing and facades.
Over 200,000 delivery notes per year
At the five locations Krölpa plant, Dresden plant, Thörey plant, Leupan plant and the Reinsdorf collection warehouse, a total of approx. 200,000 delivery notes are issued each year. Building materials are supplied in the form of bagged goods on pallets or as loose goods in silos. For the delivery of the goods maxit uses 45 of its own vehicles and drivers as well as approx. 25 subcontractors. In addition, each plant also offers the possibility of collecting the building materials on site.
“If a customer calls us and asks about the delivery, we have not been able to provide any information so far. We had to try to reach the driver by phone and ask him to fax the delivery note. The effort involved was enormous and the customer was dissatisfied,” says Anke Adler, IT manager of maxit Baustoffwerke GmbH. Maxit was faced with the challenge of promptly getting back the approx. 700 delivery notes that were generated daily, signed by the drivers with the customer’s signature, in order to record and archive them centrally in the Krölpa plant and to transfer the orders to the invoice. The following central problems demanded an innovative solution:
- The delivery notes took up to 3 weeks from the time of delivery to the customer until they were available in Krölpa for post-processing.
- Customers were often unable to provide information on a delivery if they had any queries, as the delivery documents were usually not yet available, but were still on the truck.
- Delivery notes were partially lost.
- The paper archive took on incredible proportions (due to the legal retention period of 10 years) and could no longer be managed. Older delivery notes could no longer be found there.
- The existing matrix printers were expensive to operate and maintain.
Functionality of the EasyPen
Together with the company Ontaris GmbH & Co KG from Wuppertal, maxit developed a solution which on the one hand took over the advantages of the existing paper process (performance of the customer signature, paper does not break and can sometimes get dirty, no special technical knowledge of the drivers is required), but on the other hand eliminated the disadvantages of the existing process.
“The entire solution is based on the “EasyPen-System” developed by us,” explains Martin Schüßler, Managing Director at Ontaris. This is a standardized solution that makes it possible to make forms filled out by hand available in electronic form at the same time. The heart of the solution is a ballpoint pen with integrated camera (EasyPen), which digitizes and stores the written information while writing. A special background pattern, which is automatically printed on the form, enables the pen to read the data and assign it uniquely.
“For the user, our solution hardly changes anything. He writes as usual with a pen on his paper form, with the small difference that the data is sent directly to the head office via a mobile phone,” Schüßler explains the system. The digital capture of the information takes place automatically without the user having to consider anything special. For the users, there is no need for extensive training or complicated and error-prone familiarization. The data is then transferred from the pen to a mobile phone via Bluetooth.
The mobile phone immediately and completely automatically transmits the received data via an encrypted Internet connection to a central server. There, the received data is automatically processed by means of a handwriting recognition system and is available in digital form for further processing by any computer system.
Implementation of the solution in practice
“We had been searching in vain for a long time for a suitable solution. We only became aware of the digital pen solution through our Vodafone system house V+S Kommunikationssysteme Leipzig GmbH, the company that supports us,” says Adler. “The demands on the solution sought were high. There should be as little change as possible for drivers and the connection to the existing IT infrastructure should be covered by standard interfaces with as little effort as possible. In addition, a central solution had to be found for all five locations”.
“During our first conversation it became clear to me very quickly that, in addition to finding the right and suitable solution, it would almost be more important to design the implementation at maxit in such a way that the ongoing operation would not be disturbed or interrupted”, explains Martin Schüßler.
The central backbone of the solution is the communication between the merchandise management system (IBM System I5) and the EasyPen server from Ontaris. These are located in the Krölpa plant. As before, the delivery notes are generated from the IBM System I5. But instead of printing them directly, these data are forwarded to the EasyPen server. There, each delivery note is either provided with an individual background pattern for use with the EasyPen, or a unique barcode is generated and inserted on the delivery note. The delivery notes are printed on standard 4-colour laser printers. Depending on which plant delivers the goods, the delivery notes are automatically printed on the corresponding printers of the five connected plants.
The insertion of barcodes on a part of the delivery notes was necessary because not all subcontractors use the EasyPen. A way had to be found to store the signed delivery notes automatically in the document management system anyway. This is now done via the barcode, which contains the delivery note number and the customer number and can thus be automatically digitized by a scanner and stored in the document management system.
The drivers now take the delivery notes for your tour in the morning as usual. When you have delivered the goods to the construction site, this is confirmed by signing the EasyPen on the delivery note. In addition, annotations can also be recorded, which are then transmitted via the driver’s mobile phone. The delivery note remains on the construction site as proof for the customer. Maxit already has the data digitally available as a PDF file at this moment, and the person in charge also receives an e-mail with the completed delivery note for invoicing and further processing.
Improved service and cost savings
A customer calls and wants to know from the clerk whether his order has already been delivered to the construction site and who has accepted it. With a few mouse clicks, the clerk opens the corresponding delivery note in the document management system and can inform the customer that the goods were delivered approx. 20 minutes ago. has been received by the site manager. This has now become practice and everyday life at maxit.
“I am happy with the solution!” Mrs. Adler is pleased. “The Ontaris team immediately understood what we wanted, the implementation was quick and easy, without downtime and the usual problems that IT projects often cause. The on-site support by V+S worked out wonderfully. Our customers benefit greatly from the system and of course the internal operating and administration costs have been reduced enormously.