Digitisation – BPW Innovation Lab Siegburg

New methods for new solutions.

The Innovation Lab in Siegburg opened by BPW is a digital ideas factory that is outside conventional company structures. The logistics industry continues to bump along – and not because of the condition of the roads. Many tradtional retailers and logistics companies struggle with digitisation, among other things because the interfaces of different systems continue to block intelligent and networked solutions. Everything could be so much easier – BPW was sure of this early on and took digitisation into its own hands. In establishing the Innovation Lab in Siegburg at the end of last year, BPW set up a framework for new developments and creative solutions regarding digitisation. BPW is bringing everybodytogether in the Innovation Lab, from logistics and vehicle experts to ERP specialists and software developers.

Digitisation – BPW Innovation Lab Siegburg
Marcus Sassenrath, Head of IT and digital strategy at BPW

Marcus Sassenrath is responsible for the IT and digital strategy of BPW and launched the new think tank together with the board of management: “The Innovation Lab gives us the freedom to think laterally. At the same time, we work in shifting constellations, which provides us with a great deal of input from a variety of disciplines. We work very closely with mechatronics and our subsidiary idem telematics. If we want to develop new digital products, we first need to determine what exactly the customer problem is. That’s the starting point. Then, we examine which technologies can solve the problem better than in the past.” Agile development methods and the open atmosphere of the Innovation Lab support this way of working and create scope for developments that will define the markets of tomorrow.

Focus on the interfaces

The Innovation Lab sees itself both as a competence centre and as an incubator for innovation, with a view to migrating logistical processes to a digital future. To make efficient headway on this path, BPW has also brought experts from SAP as well as customers on board, alongside its own technical and logistical specialists. The example of the ‘black hole of transport’ problem, as it is referred to by Sassenrath, demonstrates the practicality of this approach: logistics and ERP are already interconnected, but only within a company. Having left the loading ramp, transported goods disappear from the consignor’s view. Until the delivery reaches its destination and the incoming goods are scanned, it is practically invisible. This no longer reflects contemporary needs. That is why the Innovation Lab, together with customers, looked into how the process can be made more transparent. The objective was to create transparency for consignors and recipients by means of universally connected transport processes. It is simply not enough to know that the goods are “in transit”. Anybody looking to expand their scope for action, and in this way gain flexibility in the tightly scheduled world of production and logistics, must have a fuller picture of transport movements.

DIGITISATION – BPW Innovation Lab Siegburg
Creativity is nothing other than leaving a well-built road to search for new pathways.

Closing gaps with gains

With this in mind, the focus of developments in Siegburg was not only on the trailer but on the entire flow of goods. The team is thinking from the perspective of the forwarder. “Making the flow of goods more transparent will enable dispatchers as well as hauliers to design new offers with which to stand out from the competition. This could range from service enhancements for product recipients to the utilisation of synergy effects in dispatching.” Added value for the customer is important to Marcus Sassenrath, as he explains, “We are not developing haphazardly, but creating genuine added value for our customers in a field that is changing extremely rapidly, namely digitisation.”

The future thinks digitally

The slogan “we think transport” describes the over arching ambition that we are bringing to life in Siegburg and Wiehl. At first sight, however, our way of working appears new to many of our customers and partners. “We don’t work with standard project management structures, but make use of agile innovation methods. That means that we are continuously reviewing our path – and sometimes even our goal – in the course of a project. Markets are changing at breakneck speed, and so are technology and logistics. Agile development approaches allow us to pick up on these changes. At the same time, we must always be mindful of the ultimate direction of such progress. We need good ideas, clear targets and fast solutions. Agile approaches enable us to implement these. We are re-imagining products and processes. This may sound fast and loose, but it is methodologically based and extremely target-oriented: we want to boost the digital added value of our customers,” explains Sassenrath.

Digitisation – BPW Innovation Lab Siegburg

Using transparency to cut costs

The interlinking of product and process is just one example of how digitisation can be quickly rendered usable. Increasingly precise evaluation of data on products and processes facilitates improved customisation of products and services. This calls for high-performance, affordable sensors – here, the price decline in sensor technology definitely motivates fresh thinking. Sophisticated track-andtrace systems not only fill the void that currently exists between the cargo’s loading and unloading, but also improve the utilisation of logistics capacities. For many consignors, it would be more cost-effective to use remaining capacity on existing routes than to launch a separate transport. When ERP systems and intelligent loading systems for trucks, forwarders and transport companies can exchange information digitally and transparently, everybody benefits. “For example, we are working with a new type of tracking system that can be easily integrated via SAP,” says Marcus Sassenrath, describing a current project. “We are already testing the first track-and-trace systems that can be fully integrated into existing systems. The aim is to offer our customers future-oriented solutions soon, and to develop these solutions systematically. Because nothing will be as constant as digital change.”

 

“We have the freedom to think laterally – we make use of it by designing solutions that allow us to deliver added value for our customers.”

David Huperzfounding member of BPW Innovation Lab

The BPW Innovation Lab – rethinking digital logistics processes.

The BPW Group as an international mobility partner for the transport industry and SAP as the market leader for business software bring their expertise together for pushing the transport industry's digitization process forward through a common data platform.

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