Business Case: Caligen Europe

Caligen Europe is a foam manufacturer and has been a leading company since 1965 in the development of new types of foam. All their foams are produced in accordance with strong specifications by using the best raw materials of well-established suppliers. As a Dutch company, they naturally comply with all European environmental requirements.

Since 1979, Caligen has been part of the Vita Group – market leader in the production of a wide range of foams. Caligen supplies its products to different markets – automotive, comfort, industry, consumer, medical, etc.

Motivation

Because of the huge variation in supply and demand, orders are emailed manually to Caligen via a PDF-file. The production department then enters these orders into iScala – their ERP system. Caligen wants to be able to send back a confirmation automatically from iScala to its clients the moment the order is being shipped. This is done through a so-called Despatch Advice (DESADV). As its clients are active in a wide range of industries and are using different ERP systems, this requires a certain amount of data conversion.

They came to us for a solution. We had to make sure that the messages from iScala are transformed into a format that can be processed by the ERP systems of Caligen’s clients.

Analysis

We started out by making an inventory of all required information flows between Caligen and its clients. In this phase, we identified to what extent the systems involved are accessible to make a connection. For this project, we worked with the message formats XML, EDIFACT and VDA, and the communication protocols FTP and OFTP2.

The figure below shows a simplified overview of the different information flows. At its centre is our “Enterprise Service Bus”: the Niklas Integration Platform.

 

Caligen informationflow

Fig. 1 Information flows

 

From iScala, all input is collected in one FTP file. Here, partner identifiers are used to see which clients need to receive the specific input. After this, the input goes through a partner specific mapping and is transformed to output that complies with the format that is being requested by the ERP system of the client.

Development

When there was a clear view of all the necessary links, the development process was started. In this phase, mappings are made that read an incoming message or file and transform them to a required output format. This process also includes a certain amount of data enrichment.

As many of Caligen’s clients are active in the automotive industry, we use the OFTP2 protocol for this project. The OFTP was created in 1986 by the Organisation for Data Exchange by Tele-Transmission in Europe (ODETTE) for the electronic data interchange (EDI) within the European automotive industry. The latest version of the protocol is OFTP2. The improvements in this version are mainly aimed at the secure exchange of data over the public Internet.
OFTP2 communicatieprotocol

Implementation

When the mappings were concluded, we, in consultation with Caligen, started on the establishment of the information flows on our platform. The project is rolled out step-by-step per client. Before this is done, the links are tested extensively and the sent messages are validated. At this moment, the first two links are live.

Result

More and more companies require their clients to work with EDI. This also applies to Caligen. The fact that they are now using EDI, ensures a better competitive position and makes it more interesting for companies to collaborate with Caligen.

The transfer to EDI means that many actions that used to be done manually, are now executed automatically. This will raise the level of efficiency, and it reduces the number of errors. In addition, it has laid the groundwork for the addition of new information flows in the future.

Managed EDI

Are you, just like Caligen, looking for a partner who can link your systems to your trading partners? Please contact us by clicking on the button below, or by calling us directly at 023 565 6060. We are looking forward to explaining the possibilities for you, and how we can link you successfully to all your trading partners.