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add*ONE Inventory Optimizer helps Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH + Co. KG sustain foresightful inventory management and optimal availability of spare parts

More than 50,000 different spare parts, delivery in 140 countries and replenishment lead times taking up to three months: these are the daily challenges Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH + Co. KG (febi bilstein) must face. Febi bilstein also strives to deliver even the largest batches to its customers within one day of the order being placed. Thanks to the inventory optimizing software, add*ONE by INFORM, the company is now capable of managing large stocks and guaranteeing the availability of spare parts around the clock. By analyzing transaction data from the ERP system and recognizing consumption patterns, the add-on solution delivers precise forecasts for product, customer and warehouse structures. The software thus reduces the amount of effort required in the planning process.

The long-standing enterprise has been continually growing ever since its foundation in 1844. Today, the company offers a wide portfolio of spare parts for all popular car and commercial vehicle manufacturers. Over 50,000 different wear parts are available in 140 countries across the globe. Long delivery times and volatile markets require the company to keep 32 million parts on hand for delivery at any time to destinations in Germany and abroad. Tie rods, oils and brake pads generate the biggest demand among customers at present, but wholesalers have also increasingly ordered electronics spare parts since 2012. ‘Everything we order today arrives, on average, in three months’ time. Due to volatile international procurement markets, delivery times may become very long. The transportation route by sea may take up to six weeks to travel,’ explains Jakob Schäfer, inventory manager at febi bilstein. While it may be the case that customer demand experiences a sudden drop, stocks cannot be reduced at the same pace. An unnecessary capital tie-up typically results from such situations. This is the very reason why precise forecast methods are an important factor preventing overstock.

Add-on Optimizes ERP

The ERP system used by febi bilstein up until 2011, IFAI, tended to plan inventory with low accuracy. It also did not provide sufficient forecast support. Managing 10,000 to 20,000 items in the system with IFAI alone proved to be an impossible task, even more so when the approximately 2,000 new items per year are taken into account. To contend with the challenge, febi bilstein deployed the inventory management software add*ONE by INFORM in 2002. Recently, febi bilstein also decided to upgrade its version of add*ONE, and has been additionally using the new Network Planning component ever since.

Today, add*ONE calculates and optimizes order suggestions at febi bilstein and displays these suggestions together with target and transaction data in a conclusive graph on the screen. This simplifies the workflow at febi bilstein to a large extent. The order suggestions can also be adjusted on time and considered by manufacturing even in sharp fluctuations of demand. Thanks to the add-on solution, spare parts are always available and orders can be carried out within 24 hours regardless of their size.

Optimizing Logistic Connections

The strong growth of febi bilstein’s international subsidiaries across the globe urged the company to optimize its inventory management on a world-wide scale. For example, the deployment of the Network Planning component in a French subsidiary in 2014 made the management of the corporate logistic dependencies seamless.


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