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Digital spare parts management in practice

On August 9, 2022, the event “Opportunities and Risks in Digital Spare Parts Management” was held at the logistics center of Claas Service and Parts GmbH in Hamm-Uentrop. The VDMA flanked the event with current facts and data on service.

The logistics area of the agricultural machinery manufacturer provides spare parts and other parts at the right time and in the right quantity at the right place. Globally organized and efficient spare parts management is very important for the company’s customers. This is because the failure of a harvesting machine can result in very high losses for farmers. For this reason, Claas uses its worldwide dealer network and supplies it with spare parts from North Rhine-Westphalia. The aim here is to be able to better organize the constant availability of spare parts. With standardization and automation at the Hamm-Uentrop site, the agricultural machinery manufacturer has been able to further improve not only availability, but also the digitalization of service.

Claas wants to network both the end customer and the dealers with its own data world. This is made possible by the “CLAAS Connect” app, which is now available in 25 countries and 19 languages. Using this app, farmers can register their machines via a QR code and the machine number of a tractor or combine harvester. The customer can use the app to display maintenance intervals, spare parts catalogs or even operating instructions. Dealers also enjoy the benefits of the app: they can register their workshop and store contact details; they can then offer their services in the event of service.

Digitization of logistics

The agricultural machinery manufacturer’s digital spare parts management includes the digitization of procurement, storage and provision of parts. Scanners read tracking data of shipments for Claas and the customers and feed it into software. A visualization of transit times and costs brings more transparency to the supply chains. The key figures also create the basis for evaluating the quality of a spare parts shipment. The agricultural machinery manufacturer hopes to optimize logistics and reduce freight costs. What was needed for this was an update of the ERP system that integrates cloud-based functions into the corporate world.

At the end of the event, the group of participants was able to see the modern high-bay warehouse and the small parts warehouse (miniload) in operation during a one-hour tour of the logistics center. The maintenance and service parts for tractors and combine harvesters come in and out on wire mesh boxes or on Euro pallets. Claas stores almost 200,000 different spare parts at the site, spread over 58,000 storage spaces in the high-bay warehouse and 100,000 spaces in the small parts warehouse. During storage, the pallets are transferred via conveyor belts to a high-speed monorail overhead conveyor, which transports the parts further to the miniload or to the high-bay warehouse. The conveyor is designed for up to 500 pallet movements per hour and enables a perspective expansion of the storage capacities at the site.

Services are sales drivers

VDMA benchmarks show that services contribute several times the average company revenue. Services make a significant contribution of almost 20 percent to sales. Spare parts are the biggest sales and earnings driver in mechanical engineering and set the stage for other services. The number of companies offering spare parts via online portals has continued to rise, according to the presentation of the VDMA customer service benchmark. The share of service in mechanical engineering sales is also rising. The revenue share of orders placed via online spare parts portals is 28 percent for parts ordered by customers directly from the service department. The digitization of service and logistics processes is also accelerating spare parts availability and logistics, which remains a key competitive driver.

The information provided at the event stimulated ideas and discussions at some of the participating companies to further expand digitization measures in service.

Further information

The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is carried out by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform to connect, inform and market companies, institutions and networks among each other and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).