- Case Studies
The company: Beverage-logistics business and -maker Winkels
With four logistics centers and 171 trucks traveling some 6.65 million miles a year, Winkels is the leading beverage logistics business in southwestern Germany. The company achieved a high profile through its own brands such as alwa, Aqua Vitale, Griesbacher, Fontanis and Rietenauer Mineralquelle. Its entire portfolio consists of over 6,300 products with which Winkels supplies retail chains, gas stations, beverage wholesalers, beverage retailers, canteens and restaurants. Each year, around 375.9 million bottles are filled directly at the source at four production sites with a total of seven bottling lines.
Winkels’s core business lies in classic transport logistics. The Winkels Group employs 907 people and generated revenues of around EUR 385.3 million (approx. USD 318.4 million) in fiscal 2019.
Commercial Director and project sponsor in the Winkels management team
”We chose valantic because of their broad expertise in the beverage sector and are very pleased with this decision.“
SAP Project Manager at Winkels
”The introduction of SAP was a huge challenge, especially in terms of the logistics. Enhancements were needed across all fields.“
The aim was to fully replace the legacy DOGAS system and map the entire value-added and logistics chain – from production, warehousing, distribution and transport to the return of empties – in SAP. Particularly challenging was the complex interplay between the SAP applications and central warehouse system and a number of subsystems such as EDI, pre-orders or the online store. The new solution also had to be integrated into the existing SAP FI and controlling processes.
One of the key demands was that the Winkels Group’s seasonal business, which experiences strong demand during the summer months, should not be impacted by the SAP project. The migration had to proceed largely interruption-free.
The Winkels Group consists of three business units: (i) The core business of classic beverage logistics which Winkels – as the leading beverage logistics organization in southwestern Germany – provides with four logistics centers and a fleet of 171 trucks; (ii) its private label business with seven bottling facilities at four production sites, and (iii) its catering business in which Winkels’s subsidiary GGS supplies over 2,500 catering businesses as market leader in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan area.
The legacy DOGAS system was no longer able to meet the stringent demands or offer holistic process coverage. The company therefore decided to migrate the entire value-added and logistics chain for all locations to SAP R/3.
“Winkels already has many years’ experience in working with the SAP modules FI, CO and HCM. It was therefore only logical to migrate the entire ERP system to SAP in order to minimize the number of interfaces. We chose valantic because of their broad expertise in the beverage sector and are very pleased with this decision,” recalls Dr. Alexander Granget, Commercial Director and project sponsor in the Winkels management team.
In 2016, valantic and the Winkels Group jointly finalized and signed off a Business Blueprint within just seven months. After this, a step-by-step plan for realizing the functions specified in the Business Blueprint was approved and the two-stage project realization kicked off with a short delay. The first phase involved rolling out the processes in strategic purchasing and production at the four manufacturing sites.
The first three production sites went live within a few months in 2017. The fourth production site in Rietenau (“Rietenauer Mineralquellen”), which is also a key logistics site for the Winkels Group, was switched over to SAP in a “big bang” migration. SAP fully replaced the legacy system, together with its logistics functions in sales, warehousing and transport, in one go.
valantic and Winkels succeeded in implementing the requirements of the four production facilities as far as possible using the SAP standard portfolio which was then enhanced with further functions developed by valantic. Together, the two companies drew up the cutover plans for the individual locations and made the necessary preparations in production for the rollout.
At three of the Winkels Group’s logistics centers, core business operations were not migrated from the legacy system to SAP in a “big bang” process but successively as part of a rollout process; in this way, it was intended to reduce any interruptions to business operations to an absolute minimum. SAP models the entire logistics handling and all of the catering functions here.
“The introduction of SAP was a huge challenge, especially in terms of the logistics. Considerable effort was needed to teach SAP the particularities of the beverage industry with empties and deposit flows in all directions and the return of reusable glass or PET bottles. Enhancements were needed across all fields for this,” stresses Michael Schwalbe, project manager at Winkels.
Preparations for the rollout at the largest and most important logistics center in Sachsenheim, which is also the headquarters of the Winkels Group, began in 2018 and are now complete. The logistics at the largest and most important production site in Sersheim were also migrated to SAP in parallel. “Automated interfaces facilitate the phased introduction of SAP at the sites to avoid duplicate maintenance overheads. The specialist departments have acquired enormous know-how and a innate understanding of the processes. The decisive go-lives were successfully implemented with valantic as a strong SAP partner at our side,” says project manager Michael Schwalbe. This huge project will culminate with the migration of the Winkels Group’s last two production and logistics sites to SAP.
The Winkels Group placed particular importance on demand-monitoring and availability-control solutions, and also wanted the ability to consolidate deliveries for optimizing its picking activities. This would allow it to flexibly control and efficiently handle its goods throughput. Further tools included special ramp and cross-docking functionalities for large retail chains such as EDEKA and cockpits for accessing key functions such as orders, route planning and returns. “The goal of the SAP R/3 implementation was to integrate all of the subsystems as stably and securely as possible, while maximizing performance. We can proudly say that we have largely achieved this goal thanks to our competent partner valantic,” sums up Dieter Ennenbach, IT and Business Process Manager at Winkels Group.