In my blog series ‘What does…actually do?’, I (Arne Bauer) give readers an insight into the jobs that certain people at MANN+HUMMEL do. It is my job as a roving reporter to look over the shoulders of employees at the different locations in Germany. This time, I followed logistics manager Andreas Weckfort as he went about “There is no way that this is going to work,” thought Andreas Weckfort when, two and a half years ago, he left his role with an automotive supplier in the original equipment sector and started work as an aftermarket logistics manager for MANN+HUMMEL. Filters, which take more than 30 days to be transported to the central warehouse in the first place, are supposed to arrive with customers within just a few days. Yet there are no forecasts or estimated numbers provided by the customers. However, as Weckfort now knows, “this is doable with the use of statistical projections, planning models and a whole lot of experience.”
95 percent of the time, MANN-FILTER supplies its customers with their filter orders within a matter of days. “It is plain to see that this excellent delivery rate is an additional selling point for our customers,” explains Weckfort. However, achieving the right combination of the highest-possible delivery rate and lowest-possible stock level is a balancing act: “This is the main problem for logistics service providers – it is always a challenge to maintain a balance.” In Ludwigsburg, Weckfort leads an “excellent team made up of experienced members of staff”. Approximately half of his team works on the distribution side, ensuring that the warehouses are constantly restocked. On the other side, the employees in the customer service centre maintain close contact with wholesalers and organise their filter supplies.
Service philosophy takes top priority
The first thing Weckfort does in the morning is take a look at a summary of the current situation: “How many millions of euros worth of stock do we have right now?” He and his team are responsible for stocking the warehouses for a large number of subsidiaries abroad and process some 3000 orders over the course of one month. The MANN-FILTER logistics team can be relied upon to help their customers and the quality of the customer service they deliver is very important to Weckfort and his team. The customer service centre receives no end of specialist and complicated enquiries. Weckfort and his team rise to these challenges and, as he points out, “this is what sets us apart from our competitors.”
When an enquiry is technically demanding, Weckfort seeks advice from his colleague Andreas Lieb who always brings out old original drawings of filters that can be used to research special dimensions. In his 25 years of working at the MANN+HUMMEL customer service centre, Andreas Lieb has gained a lot of experience. Whether he is faced with a request for VHS cassettes from someone in Oman or approached by a married couple who need their motor boat repaired on the Adriatic, Weckfort’s motto is the same: “We provide answers to everything we are asked – this is the foundation of our service philosophy.”
Personal contact is essential
Apart from a number of core day-to-day business activities, the tasks Weckfort has to complete can change from one moment to the next, because when problems arise, the staff always go to the logistics manager: “A certain number of issues crop up on a daily basis. This is what makes my job exciting.” When talking to customers, it is important to always strike the right chord: “You have to put yourself in their position and understand their problems from their perspective.” The only way to do this is through personal contact. However, it is also necessary to have a basic aptitude for logistics in order to be good at this job. You also have to have good knowledge of your products. For example, cabin air filters are often changed in spring and so are in demand at this time of year. As Weckfort himself says, “you have to keep your eyes and ears open in this job.”