Mr Steiner, how do the people at EPDC ensure customer satisfaction?
It’s quite simple really. We know that our spare parts availability, combined with the service expertise of our sales partners, is the key to customer satisfaction. This is particularly noticeable during harvest time, when time is of the essence because a storm may be on the horizon. Our team is aware that our customers (farmers and contractors) cannot work properly without a fast and reliable supply of spare parts. That’s why we work here 363 days a year to ensure that all spare parts can be delivered as quickly as possible.
How do you ensure the availability of spare parts is fast and reliable?
During harvest, for example, machine breakdown orders play a special role. We can order the required parts and prepare them for dispatch within 45 minutes. A sophisticated data flow that links automated warehousing and transportation systems with human jobs makes this possible. In this context, I often speak of a harmony between people and technology.
Not every order has to be delivered immediately. Nevertheless, we are continuously working on improving our internal processes, from receiving parts to storage and delivery. Data analysis help us to find the optimum storage location for each part. In addition, the tried-and-tested interaction between people and technology is being continuously improved in order to move the parts through the warehouse more efficiently.
We can handle parts that are to be sent by air freight in a separate area. This saves valuable delivery time for the customer. The fact that we keep spare parts in stock for at least 15 years after a series is discontinued makes owners of older machines feel even more secure.
Around 350,000 different parts are stored in the EPDC. How do you plan how many parts of a certain type need to be in stock?
We use technology and data analysis here too – for example, through the intelligent use of telemetry data from our networked machines. The knowledge of the machine population, on top of statistical evaluations, enables us to make even more accurate demand forecasts. This allows us to ensure that the right parts are stored at the EPDC – and this also applies in principle to our sales partners’ stocks. This proactive approach is a unique selling point in our industry and should ensure that a required spare part is available from the sales partner and can be picked up directly by the customer from there.
What current challenges in the logistics sector do you encounter in the EPDC and how do you deal with them?
We are struggling with the shortage of skilled workers. We are working on offering even more appealing workplaces, for example by improving ergonomics for employees and offering more part-time positions. In particular, we want to encourage more women to work at the EPDC. We are also trying to counter the rise in logistics costs – from customs and diesel prices to packaging prices. Thanks to good planning, we are now able to consolidate 96% of our retailers’ orders so that we only need one delivery instead of three, for example. This saves costs and CO2, so it also contributes to sustainability.
In the high-frequency zone, employees put together many small parts for shipping.
Parts that are shipped by air freight are handled in a separate area.
That’s a key word, sustainability: What is the EPDC doing here to contribute?
We are one of the first John Deere sites to have a large photovoltaic system on the roof here at Bruchsal and have had it for 10 years now. This covers 12% of our onsite energy consumption. In addition, we generate a further 18% of electricity and all the heat for our production processes and heating systems from renewable sources at the site.
We are reducing the amount of plastic packaging in the filling material for our shipments and instead use paper, which is processed in special machines as transport protection. We have also introduced packaging with 30% grass content for smaller deliveries. They use less water and energy in production, which means they have a significantly better carbon footprint.
In addition to the activities at the site, we can also positively influence the supply chain through good planning. This allows us to reduce short-term deliveries through better forecasting. This means fewer deliveries by air and therefore lower emissions for each delivery.
The EPDC in figures
is the delivery reliability of the EPDC. Even at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, this figure never fall below 99 %.
If necessary, it can take as little as 45 minutes
until the parts for a broken-down machine order are picked and ready for dispatch.
different types of parts are stored in the EPDC.
You have been managing the EPDC since autumn 2023. What were your first impressions?
In my last John Deere role as customer service manager, I had already come into contact with the EPDC. In this respect, I was already quite familiar with some of the topics here and knew how well we were positioned.
What impressed me were the complexity of the processes, the high degree of automation we have and how the many small cogs interlock. I also immediately noticed the good atmosphere in the workforce of over 650 employees. The co-operation is marked by a pronounced focus on the customer, very respectful interactions with one another and a high level of professionalism and experience in completing the tasks. In this context, the Works Council always speaks of the Bruchsal spirit. It describes the family atmosphere at the location very well.