Pliers manufacturer Knipex connects to its customers using Lobster software

Knipex, who manufacture the world’s leading brand of pliers, sell their products in over 100 countries. With customers worldwide, the company exchanges large amounts of data electronically. Knipex adapts flexibly to their customer’s preferred file formats thanks to Lobster_data, the data integration software from Lobster. This helps ensure happy customers.

“For us, the customer is king”, explains Ulrich Peekhaus, IT Department Manager at Knipex. In all countries served by Knipex, there are varying standard file formats in use. That’s one of the reasons why the Wuppertal-based manufacturer receives orders in a wide variety of different formats. Some companies send order confirmations as Excel files, while others send them in ANSI X.12 messages. “We adapt to how our global customer portfolio operates. That’s why it’s important for us to be flexible when it comes to accepting a wide variety of different formats”, adds Ulrich.

With their old converter, Knipex’s mapping process was something of a black box. “We did the input, and we knew which formats should come out in the end. But as for the conversion itself, we had to coordinate with an external service provider”, says Gerhard Stamm, Knipex Project Manager. “We exchanged countless emails and telephone calls – it all took up a huge amount of time”. It sometimes took up to several weeks before the interfaces between Knipex and its customers could be adjusted.

Transparent mapping

A few years ago, the company made the switch to data integration software from Starnberg-based Lobster. Lobster_data incorporates all major industry standards – both national and international – storing and supporting all common data exchange protocols. The software maps processes on a clear and transparent platform. “At the push of a button, we can access all the formats we need”, explains Gerhard. “We can adapt to different interfaces so easily”.

Simple error analysis

Staff are immediately informed when, for example, a subsystem goes offline, or a data transfer fails. “These are exceptional circumstances, but the process control given to us by the Lobster software is certainly reassuring”, Gerhard adds. “We don’t need to examine individual log files. That saves us time, whilst allowing us to fully concentrate on new developments”.

Splitting data volumes

Some of Knipex’s biggest customers order hundreds of items several times a week. Items that aren’t immediately available are delivered alongside future orders.

Knipex’s SAP system then issues an IDoc document with all the deliverables listed. Some customers, however, don’t want to mix orders between different shipping notices. Lobster_data therefore offers the option of splitting data volumes, according to freely configurable criteria. Items can then be issued in accordance with their orders. “No matter what the requirements may be, Lobster technicians always have a quick solution for us”, emphasises Gerhard. “What used to take several days, we can now accomplish in just a few hours”.

Step-by-step conversion

The Knipex system was installed by Lobster in the space of a few hours. Some profiles are still running on the old converter, which are all being gradually replaced. “Since we didn’t have to switch off the old converter overnight, the changeover ran very smoothly indeed”, recalls Gerhard. In the future, Knipex would also like to increasingly use Lobster_data for its internal communications.

Adjusting to their customers’ needs is a top priority for the manufacturer of pliers. In order to stay true to this principle, mutual data exchange must run smoothly. Fortunately, EDI has never been so easy as it is today with Lobster.

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