Markets are increasingly volatile. Numerous industrial companies are being forced to adapt their production processes to significant fluctuations in sales. The challenge in this context is that the need for additional or reduced quantities is becoming clear on ever shorter notice. It’s now virtually impossible to forecast the quantities of product needed with any degree of reliability over the long term. As a result, industrial companies need to be able to manufacture their goods with extreme flexibility when it comes to both production schedules and quantities. Suppliers also have a critical role to play within the value chain in this regard. Waelzholz is meeting this challenge to the benefit of its customers through its global presence and worldwide logistics services. In the process, logistics and customs clearance have become another of the company’s key areas of expertise.
Take this example: Head of Sales (Germany) Andreas Reil’s phone rang and there was a customer on the line who needed a significant amount of additional steel materials at short notice. In the available time window, the production lines for this product at the main facility in Hagen were already working to capacity with regular orders for this customer. According to Reil: “We were able to find an available production slot for them at our Brazilian facility, however. There we have the same production capabilities for the material in question.” This made it possible to supply the customer with the additional quantity in a timely manner. “Meeting flexibility requirements is a key competitive factor today,” Reil explains. “This not only applies to many of our customers in their dynamic markets, but by extension also to us as a supplier of steel strip. Our strategy in response to this challenge is a global footprint of international locations and worldwide logistics services, which we have been consistently and systematically expanding for many years.”
Here’s another example: a multinational customer requires exactly the same material in consistently high quality at several of its production sites located around the world. “The customer’s R&D department worked with our Materials Technology department to develop a steel material with a particular specification centrally. We now produce this material in identical quality at our sites in China, Brazil, and Germany and supply the customer locally on three continents,” explains Reil. Behind this global flexibility is the strategy of being able to respond quickly and with the shortest possible shipping distances for customers thanks to our local presence in many regions of the world. Waelzholz achieves this through a network of production facilities, service centers, and warehouses on four continents. Waelzholz also achieves an exceptional degree of agility in this context through local sourcing by the individual facilities. As sales expert Reil explains: “Our production sites source their primary materials from local suppliers. This means that materials are not only shipped over short distances, but we’re also in the same time zone as our customers and suppliers, which significantly reduces our response time overall.”
But there’s another advantage of Waelzholz’s global footprint that isn’t obvious at first glance: redundancy. “The interchangeability of our facilities’ manufacturing capabilities offers our customers a high degree of fail safety. If, for example, one factory is down due to a local disruption such as a natural disaster, we can deliver from the other factories in identical quality,” Reil explains.
Global footprint: With production sites and service centers on four continents as well as worldwide logistics services, Waelzholz ensures that its steel materials are always available to its customers.
Rapid availability of materials thanks to logistics innovations
At production sites and with service centers, Waelzholz additionally offers logistics solutions for customers and delivers its steel materials in predefined blanket order batches. The service centers also specialize in individual solutions for urgent requirements and small batch sizes.
Things become particularly interesting, however, when customers require personalized logistics and customs processing solutions with the goal of achieving maximum material availability, explains Dr. Ernst-Martin vom Bovert, responsible for logistics at Waelzholz: “For quite a few of our customers, short lead times are critical. And in this case, we aren’t just talking about reducing the length of sea transport to as few weeks as possible, but about immediate availability within a matter of hours or days.” An example from the operation of local warehouse facilities illustrates exactly what this means – among others, Waelzholz operates a bonded warehouse in Vietnam. Here the company stocks larger quantities of various different products. As Dr. vom Bovert explains: “Our customer can submit release orders at any time and take the products they need from the warehouse. When the materials leave the warehouse, the invoice is automatically created and the customs duties paid. This is how we offer our business partner the greatest possible flexibility to respond to fluctuations in demand for its products, even at short notice, with additional or reduced quantities.”
Local warehouse with products already cleared through customs
Waelzholz has implemented a slightly different logistics solution for customers in Mexico. Due to local requirements, here the Waelzholz México sales office takes care of both importing and clearing the products through customs and supplies steel materials for short-notice release orders with variable quantities, even in small batches. This has additional advantages – due to the company being based in Mexico, our customers have a local representative who speaks the local language. In addition, invoices can be issued in the local currency. This means that they no longer have to deal with the administrative tasks associated with importing materials and the complicated customs clearance process, as these are handled completely by Waelzholz. “This is extremely appealing to our customers,” says Dr. vom Bovert. “One business partner, for example, has very limited space on his factory premises. If he calls and needs his material, he has it in the yard the next day – without any of the usual administrative tasks associated with importing goods. In this process, our focus is always on providing exceptional service to the customer.”
This is where Waelzholz’s expertise in logistics and customs clearance pays off. “Our size and the experience from working with our global partner network result in a wealth of knowledge that makes logistics and customs clearance as a worldwide service another of our company’s key areas of expertise,” Dr. vom Bovert emphasizes.