Process Automation Drives Productivity and Insight for Koopman Logistics Group
Koopman Logistics Group is the largest logistics service provider for the automotive industry in Benelux. Time is money in this business, but the company still used several inefficient manual processes instead of process automation. Their IT team turned to OutSystems low-code development platform to quickly build apps to automate paper processes, streamline operations, and provide necessary data for executives. Low-code development saved time, and the apps provided insight to give Koopman a competitive edge.
Low-code Platform Offers a Smooth Ride Into Digital Transformation
For Koopman Logistics Group, an automotive dealership logistics service provider, IT systems are a critical component that help keep logistics operations running smoothly. Just imagine: from the Car Terminal at the Port of Amsterdam, about 220,000 cars are distributed annually across this area of Europe (Benelux, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia). As many as 4,000 new cars can arrive on a single day. It is Koopman’s job to transport the cars to its massive parking lot, and then take specific cars to its dealership customers.
"It is a massive logistical operation that is particularly tight," explains Paul Wortelboer, Managing Director of Koopman Car Terminal. "Our logistics processes are aimed at bringing the cars to the dealers as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, if we transport a car to the dealer in 10 days instead of 12 days, it means the car can be put on sale two days earlier. That is a win for us and for our customers."
Since Koopman still used several inefficient manual processes, their IT team turned to OutSystems low-code platform to replace paper with mobile apps that integrated with their legacy systems.
Low-code Platform Accelerates Legacy System Integration
"We chose a low-code platform for strategic reasons. Within Koopman, we discussed whether we were going to support our logistics processes with standard software, or build our own software. We ended up choosing the latter because IT really touches the heart of our organization. IT systems make a difference over the competition, and we wanted to have control over that.”
The first great app came from the test case used to determine which low-code development platform would be chosen. "At Koopman’s workplace we also prepare cars for the dealer’s showroom (cleaned, washed, photographed, etc.). The employees write down their preparation activities on paper forms which become the basis for timesheets. It was always a hugely labor-intensive job to manage. The question for all potential suppliers was: can you build an application that is easy to use and does not require a computer system to run?” explains Oosterhoff.
The OutSystems solution built by the IT service provider, Transfer Solutions, came out as a winner. Employees can scan an order form with a scanner and the time starts running immediately. Everything revolves around a simple Raspberry Pi tablet supported by a touchscreen. "Transfer Solutions built the application with an agile approach, in sprints. A key success factor was the enthusiastic involvement of employees at Koopman itself, both from IT and from the business, " says Albert Leenders, technical director, Transfer Solutions.
The test app was so successful that it was immediately implemented, saving 4-6 administrative hours per day. Wortelboer and Oosterhoff are enthusiastic. “We collect a lot of data. And now it will be more fun, because by doing so we will gain direct insight into time-consuming activities. If, for example, the showroom preparation of a van turns out to take double the amount of time, we can immediately communicate this to clients” - especially helpful during contract negotiations.
Another simple yet efficient mobile app is the ‘hiker app.’ Drivers had to go into the office to get a paper list of cars they had to take from the lot. Using the Koopman-developed hiker app, the drivers now get the locations and the best driving routes digitally delivered and displayed on a tablet. It makes the process much faster.
There were several reasons for Koopman to opt for OutSystems, but versatility of the platform and legacy system integration were the deciding factors. "OutSystems can build applications that talk directly to our back-end legacy IBM systems. Others needed an extra transformation layer to do it. In addition, with OutSystems you can actually retrieve the code from the platform. So you have no vendor lock-in, " says Oosterhoff.
OutSystems low-code platform enables Koopman to model applications visually and generate code, allowing IT to quickly develop applications that enhance logistical processes.
Innovative Apps Will Turn Customer Relationships Into True Partnerships
Koopman plans to develop more innovative applications to to further process automation and competitive advantage. Wortelboer says, “We are thinking about the creation of a dealer portal. The dealer could see if a car has arrived and immediately promote it on the dealership website.”
With the ease and speed of low-code development, “we can actively offer these kinds of services and develop them as an extra service. It will mean that you are having an entirely different conversation: from a service provider/customer relationship to a partner relationship.”
Major productivity gains:
- 4-6 hours saved per day
- 24 weeks to build Timesheet App
- 3 weeks to build Hiker App
- Timesheet app saves 4-6 hours per day in administrative work.
- Timesheet app built in 1/3 of the time, compared to traditional development.
- Hiker app took 1/6 of the time to build compared to traditional development.