The countdown has begun. By 2025 at the latest, all companies that use and wish to continue using SAP will need to have switched to SAP S/4HANA. In 2018, Ostfriesische Teegesellschaft – OTG for short – became one of the first SAP clients to complete the switch, the challenging project having been initiated and overseen by OTG’s head of IT and organisation Karsten Rösener.
The project was especially challenging because, as a former Head of Consulting at SAP, Rösener wanted to ensure that all other important OTG software applications were rendered future-proof during the migration process. This involved changing the inventory sampling system used for over ten years by OTG to streamline its annual inventory count. Inventory sampling is provided for in Section 241 (1) HGB [German Commercial Code], which has recognised this simplified method involving a partial count since the 1970s. According to the corresponding provisions, no physical count is required if the type, amount and value of the goods can be determined using samples and statistical methods. To conduct a legally compliant inventory, OTG therefore only has to count around 300 storage areas as opposed to its total of 40,000.
However, the software used for this purpose up until 2018 no longer met OTG’s technical requirements.
“Our old solution was hardly undergoing any further development and could not be integrated with SAP in the way required,”
explains Rösener, who therefore replaced the old system with the Stasam and Staseq inventory sampling systems developed by the Hamburg-based company Stat Control GmbH. Stasam offers an extrapolation process that is especially suitable for conventional warehouses and that allows for deviations within certain limits. As a rule, it counts between five and ten per cent of stock positions, thus achieving time savings of up to 95 percent. OTG uses Stasam for the inventory counts in its packaging material and raw material warehouses at its four production sites in Norden, Seevetal, Buchholz and Grettstadt.
The finished goods, on the other hand, are stored in an automated high-bay warehouse that ensures very high stock reliability. That is why the sequential test method is used here. It was for this purpose that Stat Control developed its Staseq software. With it, OTG’s inventory target can be achieved with only 30 random samples, meaning that the count of stored finished goods can be completed in only four hours.
Like Stasam, Staseq has also been assessed by auditors in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is approved in these countries as a substitute for full inventory counts. The corresponding certificates attest to the fact that any companies with headquarters or subsidiaries in Austria or Switzerland that opt to use the secure and efficient inventory sampling system will enjoy the highest level of security. OTG’s parent company, Laurens Spethmann Holding, also operates a subsidiary in Austria.
Furthermore, OTG has external warehouse locations at suppliers and logistics service providers that have additional storage space.
“We can influence stock reliability at external warehouses only to a limited degree, which is why we conduct classic full inventories there,”
explains Rösener, who uses the inventory function integrated into SAP S/4HANA here. OTG therefore uses a combination of three different inventory procedures and software applications.
While the individual applications in the various storage areas do make things a lot easier, Rösener is not yet satisfied with the current situation. He has therefore started a project together with the Stat Control inventory experts to once again put all inventory processes to the test. One aim of this is to further reduce downtimes during sample counts in the production and finished goods warehouses.
“Stat Control sees itself primarily as a consulting firm for inventory management and inventories,”
says Rösener Going on to explain that this perception the company had of itself was “another important reason for us to change suppliers”.
Summary: While most SAP users are yet to switch to S/4HANA, OTG is already in the process of improving corresponding process details. This lead that the international tea specialist has built up in this regard should serve to make it a popular reference client worthy of emulating.
„Stat Control sees itself primarily as a consulting firm for inventory management and inventories. This was another important reason for us to change suppliers“
– Karsten Rösener