Transparent and efficient organisation of information flows is the backbone of the high efficiency achieved by cold storage logistics company NORDFROST. From a very early stage electronic capture and processing of important operational documents was seen as a key to success.
IT management recently decided on further expansion of the electronic document management to ensure ready availability of all relevant information. Opting for InoTec SCAMAX® high-performance scanners facilitates swift digitisation of significantly increased document volumes and streamlining workflows.
The owner managed concern NORDFROST embarked on a bold expansion course. Having it’s origins in the cold storage sector, the enterprise operates a net of forty cold storage facilities, covering all of Germany and reaching into The Netherlands and Denmark. The wholly owned transport logistics branch has been significantly expanded during the last year. That allowed NORDFROST to become German market leader in full service cold storage logistics.
"As a logistics partner to the food industry and indeed food retailers we have always prided ourselves as being very flexible and able to react uncomplicated, reliable and quickly to the wishes of our customers. We have always been able to develop complete concepts for them and swiftly implement them", explains company founder Horst Bartels the recipe for success of the NORDFROST group of companies.
Without rigorous employment of up-to-date information technologies this high expectation could not be met, especially in the food industry.
Growth demands technological development
This fact is acknowledged by the cold storage service provider NORDFROST in bundling comprehensive information technology know-how into it’s own data processing centre.
Early on the development for an electronic document capture was initiated. It encompassed the implementation of a digital archive that is currently used for the storage of the so-called ‘Route Maps”.
These maps are carried by the delivery trucks, detailing cargo specific documents. Receivers in Germany and abroad sign delivery dockets, completed packet item dockets and other associated documents. At the completion of the delivery round these documents are captured decentralised at forty archiving stations in 29 logistics centres. They are then transferred to the central archive, being immediately available to all divisions in the group and at all locations.
In line with the dynamic corporate development the number of documents to be captured has immensely increased during the last year. "In 2010 alone the volume of documents has grown by more than twenty percent across the group. And we are talking about widely varying paper quality and at times low contrast documents. They really challenge the scan technology employed ", according to Dr. Falk Bartels, manager of the in-house IT facility.
During spring 2010 it was decided to further develop the electronic document processing and to prepare for future requirements at the same time. A decision that was aimed at strengthening the company’s competitiveness: On the one hand internally by increasing productivity and externally by further improving customer service.
This includes improved customer response times and the option for customers to access signed delivery dockets electronically, which would give them the ability to see, in almost real time, who in their facility signed for the delivery..
In-house practical test makes decision easy
During the evaluation process NORDFROST employees in the archiving department tested scanners from a variety of vendors in ‘real-life’ processing. The InoTec SCAMAX® 4x2 series was very convincing from the beginning of the tests. „Since we are not only capturing the documents, but also perform quite a part of the maintenance, simple operation and access were major test criteria“, explained Fleßner, in charge of the archive and all processes related to it.
Important day-to-day scanner components, like the contact feeder or it’s parts, can be easily replaced by the user. The integrated touch-screen facilitates intuitive operation of the machine. Easily understood pictograms and full-text messages further aid this process.
The decision in favour of InoTec has also proven itself in operational operation under practical conditions, particularly with regard to high scan quality and quantity. "Employee feedback in archiving and daily checks show that we have increased the proportion of documents that do not require processing to almost 100%. As a result, the scanning processes have become considerably more efficient", sums up Fleßner.
Building on a solid foundation
The planned implementation of a workflo controlled document management system at NORDFROST has the best possible foundation due to the new scanner infrastructure. The new digital archive will, apart from the delivery dockets cited above and other electronically generated data, also contain other documents currently kept in paper form. The digital capture of goods received documents has already been started.
The use of OCR-ICR technologies, which will allow a mostly automated document classification into the internal data base, is in the planning stage. A further step in the project planning is the digital processing of incoming invoices.
„Expansion of the NORDFROST group can be actually seen in the construction of various new distribution centres. These are seen as vital to meet customers’ demands in the long term. This growth is closely accompanied by the employment of state-of-the-art technologies to always keep one step ahead“, according to Dr. Falk Bartels.
About Nordfrost GmbH & Co. KG
The owner-managed NORDFROST group of companies has diverse areas of business activity. It was founded in 1975 by Horst Bartels providing warehousing services. About six years ago NORDFROST diversified into transport logistics, specialising in cold storage. Since then it has gained market leadership in that sector in Germany. Today, NORDFROST, who has its European headquarter in Schortens, Lower Saxony, is one of the leading cold storage logistics companies in Europe. More than forty cold store locations, both in Germany and abroad, service this business area, which includes distribution and dispersion. Total turnover for the group of companies, with six distinct business areas covering transport logistics, warehousing, stevedoring, import and export processing, brokerage and meat processing, will be around 400 million Euros. Due to several take-overs the number of employees climbed by about ten precent to around 2,200 during 2010,.