AEP-direkt GmbH (AEP) is a pharmaceutical wholesaler headquartered near Frankfurt, Germany that delivers drugs from one location to pharmacies at a discount. In exchange for a one-day turnaround on each delivery, AEP can save a pharmacy a considerable sum annually as compared to paying a premium for same-day, time-sensitive shipment.The company began operations on October 1, 2013.
Core to the company’s launch was the installation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, to help the firm manage its financial, logistics and workflow processes within the boundaries of strict, pharmaceutical industry compliance.
As a start-up in a highly competitive, low-margin industry, AEP needed a software solution that would not burden the company’s capital resources, while also providing a quick return on investment through efficient process handling. AEP chose IBS to provide the solution.
AEP’s only warehouse is situated next door to AEP’s logistics partner, trans-o-flex Logistics Group, a fullcoverage freight transportation company serving 34 European countries. As orders come in to AEP, product is picked and delivered next door to trans-o-flex where shipment is fulfilled.
Prior to start-up, AEP installed a warehouse management software to help facilitate its operations. According to the business plan, orders would be received via an online pharmacy program and captured in the WMS before being sent next door for delivery. Any ERP software selected would therefore have to integrate with the Knapp system, trans-o-flex and the pharmacy order system, and play well with AEP’s back office, logistics and banking partners, to ensure all were viewing the same information at the same time. In addition, as Germany’s first pharmaceutical wholesaler with a Webshop only for pharmacies, AEP would require a customized Internet store capability as part of the solution.
In late 2012, AEP issued a request for proposal to a short list of vendors, including IBS. Based on IBS’ track record in the pharmaceutical industry. In February of 2013, the implementation team assembled a plan to launch the solution by October. System deployment would occur in stages, first installing the purchasing module, then the distribution and warehouse module, followed by invoicing and so on, until the full ERP solution was in place. Detailed plans surrounded every module’s installation, mapping core business processes to the external interfaces and internal capabilities of the IBS software. Training would follow.
During the implementation, the team spent added time customizing the online pharmacy interface to ensure maximum uptime. IBS worked with AEP’s third party infrastructure partner to confirm the software’s efficacy on their remote equipment platform.The system was tested at the warehouse and at all partner locations, including its ability to accommodate mobile devices such as tablet computers, at each stage of development. By October 2013, the stated deliverables were in place, and the system went live.
Since operations launched in October, AEP has successfully integrated its warehouse, logistics and banking partners on the IBS Enterprise system.“We have one of the biggest warehouses in Europe,” said Jens Graefe, CEO AEP, “The fact that we reached every milestone we set within our stated timeframe was significant.”
As operations continue, AEP is continuing to work out some bugs with the help of IBS consultants on site.
“For a start-up company, we were able to get a very comprehensive solution installed at a reasonable cost, on time, and gained substantial competitive advantages through a system that is capable of handling our entire process, from inventory control and financing through warehouse and delivery.”