- Previous solution did not fully support OFTP or provide dequate monitoring and visibility for identifying errors and incidents
- Needed fast and accurate communications for delivery of parts from local plants to automobile manufacturers and other customers worldwide
- Stable, reliable performance through splitting EAI and EDI systems and adoption of Axway TSIM as central EDI platform
- Successful just-in-time, just-in-sequence messaging in compliance with automobile manufacturers
- Enhanced monitoring tools for greatly reduced support costs and improved reporting to trading partners and internal departments
- Full support of OFTP protocol
- Better performance and faster messaging with SOAP adaptor for external integration platform
“[With Axway TSIM] we are able to react very quickly on issues and incidents. The system is transparent, so we can respond to questions from our business department or queries from our suppliers very quickly. It really makes supporting our customers and handling inquiries a lot easier.”
As a global supply and service network company specializing in driveline and chassis technology for the automotive industry, ZF requires proximity to the market. ZF has eight Main Development Locations, 34 Service Centers and more than 650 Service Partners worldwide. This level of global service ensures that ZF customers benefit from a full-scale, quality product inventory no matter where they are located. In addition to maintenance and repair, ZF also supports its customers with consultancy, training, and marketing.
Supplying Customers Worldwide
ZF has been successfully using Axway’s solution for the automotive industry, Trade Sync Integration Manager (TSIM), for its Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) needs since 1995. However, a recent consolidation strategy led ZF to consolidate its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) systems into one B2B platform, with a third-party adaptor facilitating integrated and automated processing with suppliers. ZF experienced a level of performance and reliability problems with this solution that greatly impacted OFTP (Odette File Transfer Protocol) communications (OFTP is the most widely used protocol in the automotive industry).
To resolve these problems, ZF decided to split its communication and integration platforms, and use Axway TSIM exclusively as its worldwide communications hub. “Since we split the systems and moved back to an external Axway architecture, we have a stable communication gateway again, which is essential to our business,” said Robert Fuchs, Manager, System Integration, for ZF’s Information Technology team.
“I would recommend Axway’s solutions because they are reliable, and they are also flexible, allowing us to integrate new features ourselves, which of course is much less costly for our company.”
Just-in-Time, Just-in-Sequence Messaging
To ensure an optimal combination of flexibility and capacity, the purchasing and logistics functions at ZF are combined in a global network organization connecting ZF with about 1,000 suppliers and 300 customers worldwide. Electronic data exchanges with these suppliers and customers — primarily logistic and financial messages — total approximately 1.5 million transactions per month.
ZF uses Axway TSIM as its central EDI hub for all logistics and messaging implemented at its headquarters. In addition, customers worldwide rely on ZF to provide local EDI systems for just-in-time, just-in-sequence messaging and product delivery. To provide this valuable service to customers all over the world, ZF installed local Axway TSIM communication gateways.
"If a customer sends a just-in-time, just-in-sequence message, we have to deliver a part or product directly to the customer’s assembly chain within thirty minutes. With our local Axway gateways, we can adhere to the specific logistic processes required by our automobile manufacturers," Fuchs explained.
Reduced Cost of Support Services with Transparent
As a result of using its new Axway TSIM, ZF has been able to reduce its customer support efforts by half. “We are able to react very quickly on issues and incidents. The system is transparent so we can respond to questions from our business department or queries from our suppliers, very quickly. It really makes supporting our customers and handling inquiries a lot easier,” said Fuchs.
The new configuration also delivered enhanced features, such as Object Browser monitoring functionality, which has been highly effective for the ZF team. “The Axway TSIM monitoring tool is really a great feature compared with other vendors’ products. With some vendors you have to call them when you have issues, and pay for their services. Axway enables us to easily manage the support ourselves, and this approach is really customer-oriented,” said Fuchs.
Improved Performance for Integration Platforms
Many companies in the automotive and other industries are using Axway TSIM for B2B communications in combination with back-end integration platforms. In order to ensure communication and data integration between the systems, Axway developed enhanced functionality for Axway TSIM — a connector based on Webservice technology — that allows the product to work with other EAI platforms while keeping the systems separate. The benefits from this "dual" environment are greatly improved performance and expedient EDI messaging using industry standards such as OFTPv1 and v2.
ZF was one of the first customers to use the Webservice connector for a split environment, with Axway TSIM for B2B EDI, plus an external integration platform. "I would recommend Axway’s solutions because they are reliable, and they are also flexible, allowing us to integrate new features ourselves, which of course is much less costly for our company," Fuchs concluded.