Off-the-shelf digital processes: Wholesale meets Chemistry 4.0

Smart solutions for supply chain optimization through Chemicals-as-a-Service.

Digital transformation has now also become an important topic in the chemical industry. The optimization and automation of both internal and external processes is steadily advancing for the benefit of efficiency and customer service. With the new Häffner Smart Chemicals service portfolio, Häffner GmbH & Co. KG is setting new standards as a distributor of acids & alkalis, solvents and specialty chemicals.

With the support of the Dresden-based technology start-up Packwise and its smart solutions in the field of IBC monitoring for supply chain management, Häffner has developed new service models in order to be able to offer its customers even more digital added value in the future. High deposit costs, non-transparent supply chains, expensive warehouse space and no IT resources to expand automation processes. These are just a few of the well-known everyday concerns of chemical processing companies. Internal as well as external processes around the deposit return process, container management and the omnipresent need for cash flow optimization in times of highly uncertain procurement markets, are not only time-consuming but also anything but cost-effective. Häffner has addressed these problems and, under the name Häffner Smart Chemicals, offers intelligent, digital services that not only enable customer companies to open the door to digital transformation, but also simplify their everyday lives with automated standard processes.

The current solution portfolio includes three basic service models:

  • Track & Return: Automated control of empties management and container monitoring in relation to sensor data such as location, fill quantity and temperature
  • ChemAbo: Automation of replenishment control in the context of so-called “vendor-managed inventory” concepts
  • Chemical leasing: The model will be available in the course of the year and will also enable billing according to consumption (“pay-per-use”). This will give customers a decisive competitive advantage through increased liquidity for products with a high value content.
    high value content

How do the new service models work?

The Track & Return model serves to optimize empties and liquidity in the deposit return process for IBC containers. By attaching an intelligent tool, the so-called Smartcap, powered by Packwise, to the containers and then creating a “digital twin”, data such as fill level, temperature, location and much more can be digitally measured and mapped. The equipped containers can now be monitored and tracked in a web portal. By setting up automatic notifications for standard events, such as goods issue, shortly before the arrival of the supplier, when critical temperature thresholds are reached or when the fill level is critical, an automated pickup of the containers can be notified and thus help to free up expensive storage space in a timely manner – including the associated earlier return of the deposit fees!

The supply chain itself also becomes much more transparent and clearer for customers, as the location and all other sensor data are available to the customer at all times and the distributor and consignee can intervene in a controlling manner. Particularly in the current difficult times with increasing supply bottlenecks and poor plannability, long vacancies can be avoided in this way. Based on this, the so-called ChemAbo service also enables automated replenishment based on reported inventories of container groups. This part of the Häffner Smart Chemicals family not only gives customers security in terms of product availability, but also provides them with urgently needed manpower by streamlining purchasing processes. This saves time and money.

Better plannability through high security of supply

This is what happened in the successful pilot project with REC53 GmbH, a company in the Häffner Group. Within the group of companies, the services have already been able to prove how they can make everyday work easier. Since the beginning of the year, hydrochloric acid stocks have been monitored at container level as part of the ChemAbo service, and automatic replenishment deliveries and the collection of empties have been triggered.

“This allowed process costs to be reduced while at the same time increasing supply security, and the utilization of the regular shuttle transport between the sites could be significantly optimized”, says Marina Marlow from REC53. Leopold Meindl, Key Account Manager at Packwise, also sees the pilot phase as promising: “Häffner is one of the most innovative companies in the chemical trade with its claim to offer customers digital solutions. In the successful pilot phase, the great potential could be validated by very positive customer feedback as well as the operational feasibility. As a technology partner, we are firmly convinced that Häffner Smart Chemicals’ solutions will establish themselves in the market.”

Häffner Smart Chemicals are now available to interested parties. For personal consultation on individual implementation of the services, free demo appointments can be arranged.