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Automotive industry: Nothing works without EDI

FINOBA Automotive Bavaria GmbH

Functioning EDI systems are essential for suppliers to the automotive industry, because they form the foundation of successful cooperation with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

Important documents such as delivery or JIT calls, delivery notes and invoices or credit notes are transmitted securely in this way – particularly relevant in JIT or JIS processes.

EDI-based transactions between suppliers and OEMs also help to secure supply chains. For most suppliers, secure and seamless communication with OEM customers is crucial to their existence.

High production criticality, high risk

This is also the case at Finoba Automotive Bavaria: as a manufacturer and refiner of magnesium and aluminium castings, the main focus here is on mechanical processing as well as the assembly of important standard and add-on parts. “Central to our business are not so much JIS delivery scenarios, but rather production criticality and the conformity of the data transmitted digitally to the customer with the physical processes,” explains Martin Pautzenberger, plant manager at Finoba Automotive Bavaria. “If the physical parts are not on site with the associated digital information, production stops and assembly comes to a standstill. That costs money as well as reputation; the supplier rating drops with all the consequences, and smaller companies like us can’t afford that at all.”

Finoba Automotive Bavaria in Rottenburg an der Laaber originally belonged to Finoba Automotive in Baunatal near Kassel and since 2015 has supplied a good two million castings to a German car manufacturer in the premium segment – always reliably and on time. “We acquired a very good position here over the years,” says Pautzenberger. But then Finoba Automotive was sold in 2020, and Finoba Automotive Bavaria was cut off from the previous IT infrastructure, including the ERP system and EDI solution, much sooner than expected. This created an extremely critical situation for the 30-person company, because without an EDI system it would no longer have been able to supply its OEM customer in line with requirements.

Source: FINOBA Automotive Bavaria GmbH

Becoming EDI-capable in the shortest possible time

Following the takeover of the parent company by Hanomag AG, Finoba Automotive Bavaria was only able to access the ERP system for a limited time and therefore the data previously used by the headquarters near Kassel from Hüngsberg’s EDI system, ediDAX. Despite Finoba Automotive Bavaria’s early reaction and purchase of its own ERP system, its delivery and implementation usually take several months. Since the licence expired earlier than agreed, a good two to three months had to be bridged. “Because it is not possible to set up a parallel ERP system in this time, we were dependent on a quick, practical alternative solution at extremely short notice in order to remain EDI-capable,” explains Matthias Heizmann, project manager at Finoba Automotive Bavaria.

The “helper in need”: The logDAX EDI system, smart and quickly ready for use

“There were considerations of using other clearing centres, but in the end we decided on HÜNGSBERG,” says Heizmann, “as its ediDAX system has already been successfully in use at Finoba Automotive for years.”

The EDI system provider HÜNGSBERG, which has been providing EDI solutions for the automotive industry for a good 40 years, was faced with an incredibly challenging task in light of the prerequisites and the tight deadline, namely to implement a functioning EDI solution within four weeks – especially since Finoba Automotive Bavaria delivers directly to the production in a tight cycle and all parts have to be on site exactly on time. That’s why HÜNGSBERG’s logDAX system appeared to be the optimal interim solution: a lean, highly functional, professional EDI system that is quickly implemented, immediately meets all requirements and is also easy and convenient to use.

“We immediately recognised Finoba Automotive Bavaria’s difficult situation and did everything we could to provide a functioning EDI solution as quickly as possible. This was not an entirely easy task, but our highly motivated, committed development and service team ensured a professional, effective and ultimately very satisfactory solution in a short time.” says Tania Hüngsberg-Cengil, second-generation Hüngsberg managing director since 2010.

Finoba Automotive Bavaria received training from Hüngsberg with the implementation. Due to the simply structured, intuitive user interface, the seven-member user team got along very well with the logDAX EDI system in a short time. There were no delays or even failures, all business processes with the customer continued to run seamlessly.

Quote Heizmann:

“Thanks to the fast and professional help from Hüngsberg: not one day were we without EDI. Our most important customer, a large OEM, would only have accepted very short-term shutdowns.”

Matthias Heizmann, project lead at Finoba Automotive Bavaria

OEM monitors system change

Every system change involves a critical moment. This affects “especially the departments of purchasing and internal risk”, says Pautzenberger, “because all suppliers are subject to close-meshed monitoring as soon as they install new interfaces. To safeguard the OEMs, we then receive very extensive questionnaires to minimise all risks.”

Every error increases the customer’s attention, which leads to negative supplier evaluations. “But Hüngsberg’s expertise and professionalism saved us from exactly that. More than that, we were even able to increase our performance. After switching to the new system, all processes ran smoothly, without failure or delay, and we were even able to take care of warehouse management with logDAX,” Heizmann explains. “For companies that are looking for an effective as well as inexpensive EDI solution that also offers additional ERP functionalities, logDAX is definitely an excellent choice.”

All good things come in threes: ediDAX, logDAX, clearDAX in use one after the other

In the end, with competent support from Hüngsberg, it was possible to manage the difficult and complex system transfer in three stages. Within one year, three Hüngsberg systems were used: the ediDAX solution at the beginning, when Finoba Automotive Bavaria was still connected to the parent company, then logDAX in the transition phase and finally with the start of the ERP system clearDAX in January 2022. Thus, in each phase, there was a flexible solution from Hüngsberg that could be implemented immediately and always functioned perfectly. And yet the time-critical and at the same time complex overall process “was a real test for our systems”, says Hüngsberg-Cengil.

From logDAX EDI system to hosting solution

In the logDAX phase, the system connection to the OEM took place, in the subsequent clearDAX phase, the connection of the new ERP system with the corresponding mappings. According to Hüngsberg-Cengil, the primary challenge was to develop and extensively test the mappings with only a few weeks’ notice and “over the turn of the year”, and this in close coordination with the new ERP partner. “But in the end, everything worked wonderfully.” Thanks to its comprehensive expertise and many years of experience – not only with regard to EDI, but also in ERP and message formats as well as the corresponding business processes – Hüngsberg was also able to provide the ERP integrator with valuable support in the process implementation, which provided additional strong support for the process.

In order to successfully connect the supplier Finoba Automotive Bavaria to the group-wide EDI system and to test the data exchange and the customer-specific mappings, various configurations had to be changed on the part of the OEM. This requires the right contact persons in the company, which can often take a long time to find. Thanks to its good contacts and networks, HÜNGSBERG was able to shorten this process considerably for Finoba Automotive Bavaria. After several successful customer tests, it was clear that the transition had been a success. After the logDAX system had been in use for a good nine months to the satisfaction of all parties, the decision was finally made to use HÜNGSBERG clearDAX as the hosting solution for the new ERP system. The new system has been successfully in use since January 2022.

Matthias Heizmann is impressed by the expertise and professionalism at Hüngsberg: “After the logDAX deployment, the clearDAX implementation also went completely smoothly, Hüngsberg actively supported and tested our ERP provider PZ Systeme, who was also very committed, so that the interface to the EDI system could be developed quickly and cleanly.” Heizmann continues: “For a smaller company like us, it is very advantageous to have a partner with so much experience and know-how. We don’t have that kind of IT capacity in-house.”

Tania Hüngsberg-Cengil: “We are very happy that everything worked out so well. You can only manage that if you understand the process flow and know exactly what is needed to implement a functioning interim solution.” Hüngsberg-Cengil continues: “In addition, everyone involved was very focused, committed and organised in their approach.”

Great partners, efficient, user-friendly systems

A functioning communication and business relationship with the customer was indeed crucial for the company’s existence. There were emergency strategies on the part of the OEM, such as browser solutions with which EDI data could be generated as a transitional solution, but not very convenient and without inventory management as with logDAX, which additionally ensures precise and correct deliveries.

At Hüngsberg, in addition to state-of-the-art software technology and excellent services, user-friendliness is a top priority, especially for EDI systems without a direct interface to an ERP system. Especially smaller companies with lower personnel capacities benefit from this. The user interface is efficient and quick to use; it does not require any specialised staff and has already proven itself many times over.

“I am proud of this really challenging project and that we were able to support Finoba Automotive Bavaria so well in this precarious situation. This was only possible because we know the delivery processes in the automotive industry from the ground up and have had our software development and service department in-house at the Hallbergmoos site from the very beginning,” explains Tania Hüngsberg-Cengil. “Only under these conditions is this high level of flexibility and responsiveness possible.”

Ready for the future: digital stability in the supply chain with Hüngsberg EDI systems

Many supply chains of numerous suppliers to the automotive industry are increasingly being comprehensively digitalised due to pressure from OEMs. Finoba Automotive Bavaria will therefore also connect its sub-suppliers digitally in the future so that they are also EDI-capable. In the process, the same message standards must be created and corresponding communication structures adapted for all levels – a considerable challenge, especially for small and medium-sized companies, because the IT environments of customers, partners and suppliers usually differ greatly. If partners have neither ERP nor EDI systems, special EDI solutions such as logDAX and webDAX are suitable. In any case, the decision of Finoba Automotive Bavaria is clear: “We will definitely continue to use and deploy Hüngsberg systems. This way we are well equipped for the digital future and can face it calmly, optimistically and proactively.”

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