The two closely related companies MAFI and TREPEL ship their machines and equipment worldwide and are leading manufacturers in their markets. To further boost after sales and thereby promote customer loyalty, upgrading to the new CATALOGcreator® lead to an intuitive internet service portal that offers both machine-related 2D spare-parts catalogs and price, order and delivery information tailored to the individual customer.
MAFI Transport-Systeme GmbH is the world’s leading manufacturer of tractors for in-plant transport in seaports, industry, logistics and distribution centers. The affiliate TREPEL Airport Equipment GmbH produces aircraft ground-support equipment. Airports in over 150 countries operate TREPEL vehicles. Both companies have their headquarters in German Tauberbischofsheim, in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
As early as 2006, the group started using CATALOGcreator®, the software for electronic spare parts catalogs.
TREPEL ground support equipment is mostly used in airport areas with high safety standards. Since specialist personnel and on-site workshops are usually at hand in such safety areas for quick responses to malfunctions, it is not surprising that customers wish to do their maintenance and repairs themselves, where possible.
“Due to the security standards at airports, our service technicians may have to wait for up to four days before they are authorized to access these sensitive areas,” explains Markus Herwig, Head of Customer Service at TREPEL. Alfonso Urzola, MAFI’s Head of Design and Customer Service, adds that time zones with their offsets during “regular” business hours require tools to compensate for this. Service at MAFI and TREPEL therefore trains the customer’s technicians on the job and provides well-prepared online information on vehicles and equipment around the clock.
“So far, electronic catalogs have been state of the art, but the trend is clearly tending towards service portals,” says Alfonso Urzola. This is due to the accelerated technology change and the new generation of customers who are about to replace their parents. This younger internet-savvy generation is unwilling to compromise on user-friendliness or online availability of data, even at work. Well-known internet shops demonstrate how success can be achieved in this online business. “As an original parts supplier, we need to take competitors from the “gray spare-parts market” very seriously by expanding our range of online services.
What originally has been a technical documentation project, now lies within the responsibility of the customer service. We have realized that easy identification of spare parts in the 2D online catalogs is not the only motive for customers to using the tool, but that additional features are necessary to be well prepared for the challenges to come.
Over the years, the electronic 2D spare parts catalog at MAFI and TREPEL has grown continuously and has been enriched with additional information such as operating and maintenance instructions and spare-parts images. Initially, catalog use was largely restricted to internal purposes, for example to train staff, or as an aid to the telephone support team to quickly find the right parts.
Three years ago, customer service committed itself to changing this. The first success became visible within a brief period: Today, more than 200 customers are using the 2D online catalog. This has contributed to a fast and significant increase in sales through this order channel and constitutes a win-win situation for both sides.
Particularly large customers quickly grasp the advantages of the online catalog, where easy part identification, but also stock keeping, plays a key role. In electronic catalogs, customers immediately see the spare parts installed in their machines and can stock up as required.
To further increase after sales, a convenient service portal offers additional benefits, including access and authorization management to make machine-specific catalogs available for all customers. These custom catalogs contain updates on all known machine modifications and provide current data online around the clock.
An essential step towards the service portal was the decision to purchase the up2date ServicePortal of KUMAsoft GmbH. KUMAsoft is a long-standing and experienced partner of TID Informatik for web-shop projects with CATALOGcreator®. On the new service portal, customer service provides price information and delivery dates from the ERP system. Information on delivery is especially important for customers who are in urgent need of spare parts.
This information includes costs of shipping or delivery documents. Since no standards exist for embargo countries that could be easily defined and displayed on the portal, expert administrators review every order immediately after its placement.
Following the installation of the new CATALOGcreator®, the shop solution was implemented. The first customers assessed the new service portal in a pilot project before its international roll-out.
Experience and Outlook
To keep documents up to date in CATALOGcreator® there is already an innovative solution: Both companies use the d.3 document management system that provides the latest release of this document through live connection to the online catalog.
This ensures that the operating instructions accessed by the customers are up to date at all time. The assembly-level number specifies the documents shown to the user. The process has the additional advantage that documents are not stored on the web server and hence do not require any storage space there.
It is particularly important to the service team that electrical and hydraulic diagrams do integrate easily with the online catalog – thanks to CATALOGcreator®. The plans help to understand how the vehicles and equipment work and make it much easier for the customer’s technicians to identify the error in the event of a fault.
“After more than ten years of excellent cooperation with TID, we are absolutely sure to have the right partner on board for future challenges. Since MAFI and TREPEL export around 90 percent of our products, the web-shop solution is a powerful tool for sustainable after-sales growth and improved customer loyalty. With CATALOGcreator® and the up2date ServicePortal, we have laid the foundations for an advanced service portal,” both customer service managers conclude in unison.