Cutting supply chain risks and saving millions

Brother International Europe embraces managed EDI services
by Kylie E Jones
6-minute read
Businessmen and women using computers and concentrating, modern office environment, efficiency, productivity, corporate business

Brother International Europe was established more than 60 years ago and has continually evolved to thrive in an ever-changing marketplace. From Managed Print Services through to printers, scanners and labelling devices, Brother International Europe’s products and services are designed to increase efficiency, boost productivity and encourage collaboration in the workplace.

Basil Fuchs, Head of Business Engagement at Brother International Europe, explains: “Brother International Europe is the European arm of the global Brother Group, representing 28% of an overall annual turnover of EUR 5 billion. We’ve built a successful business by adopting a customer-centric strategy — our motto is ‘At your side.’ The move to digital and the rise of home working due to COVID-19 offers opportunities for Brother International Europe to grow further.”

To reliably deliver high-quality products to its customer base, Brother International Europe must manage a complex supply chain effectively. With more than a hundred suppliers and fluctuating market demand to contend with, the company aims to ensure that it can communicate with its trading partners 24x7.

A young businesswoman having a discussion with a colleague in an office

Optimizing EDI landscape unlocks multimillion-euro

savings

Cut time-to-value by

83%

for optimization project

Without Coliance and IBM technology, the project could have taken us as much as two to three years. Instead, we made the deadline and achieved savings of millions of euros.
Basil Fuchs
Head of Business Engagement, Brother International Europe

“We have a relatively small IT team to support a diverse business, and pride ourselves on delivering an exceptional customer experience,” says Fuchs. “Our goal is to insulate our customers from any disruption to our supply chain — such as that caused by the pandemic — and adapt fast to changes in the marketplace. Reliable trading partner integration is absolutely essential to achieve those goals, but EDI is not one of our core competencies. To liberate our IT team to focus on service innovation, we decided to boost the reliability and cost-efficiency of our EDI capabilities by moving to a managed services model.”

Woman using computer at desk in office surrounded by documents
Coworkers discussing data on digital tablet in office
Through IBM Sterling, Coliance can show when orders were placed and whether the correct stock items were requested. That allows us to avoid penalties for missed or incorrect orders, adding up to significant cost savings.
Basil Fuchs
Head of Business Engagement, Brother International Europe
Building a bond that lasts
Through IBM Sterling, Coliance can show when orders were placed and whether the correct stock items were requested. That allows us to avoid penalties for missed or incorrect orders, adding up to significant cost savings.
Basil Fuchs
Head of Business Engagement, Brother International Europe

For 18 years, Brother International Europe has trusted IBM Business Partner Coliance to manage EDI on its behalf using the IBM Sterling® B2B Integrator solution. In that time, the two companies have developed a close relationship, with Coliance continually finding new ways to deliver value to Brother International Europe using IBM Sterling technology.

“Coliance understand our business and how to get the best out of IBM Sterling for Brother International Europe,” comments Fuchs. “Coliance has end-to-end responsibility for all EDI processes, allowing us to leave this essential part of our B2B integration process in their capable hands so that we can concentrate on value-added customer services.”

Using IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, Coliance integrates complex EDI transaction flows for 135 suppliers in a single gateway. Coliance supports Brother International Europe business units across Europe, with suppliers mostly located in the Asia-Pacific region. Each month, an average of 15,000 transactions flow through the EDI system.

“EDI transactions are some of our most critical trading-partner communications, as they often pertain to high-volume, high-revenue orders,” says Fuchs. “Coliance integrated IBM Sterling closely with our SAP ERP systems, further streamlining and automating vital processes.”

By taking advantage of the newest releases of IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, Coliance delivers ongoing optimizations for Brother International Europe. For example, this work allows Brother International Europe to support the latest communication protocols out of the box, including new standards such as Pan-European Public Procurement Online (Peppol). IBM Sterling B2B Integrator also offers built-in APIs, enabling rapid development of new data-driven services.

Huge savings, stellar customer experiences

Since moving its mission-critical EDI workloads to the IBM Sterling platform managed by Coliance, Brother International Europe continues to drive up the efficiency of its trading partner integration processes. Recently, the company commissioned Coliance to optimize its EDI landscape by decommissioning its value-added network (VAN). The project was completed in record time and delivered huge savings.

Fuchs recalls: “To avoid any interruption to our EDI services, we set Coliance a tight deadline of just six months to onboard all 135 of our suppliers to the new platform, and they succeeded. Without Coliance and IBM technology, the project could have taken us as much as two to three years. Instead, we made the deadline and achieved savings of millions of euros.”

Brother International Europe uses EDI insights from Coliance to demonstrate its performance against stringent service-level agreements with its distributors. By combining data available within the IBM platform with the company’s self-auditing processes, Brother International Europe can provide clear, trusted evidence to help answer queries and resolve disputes.

“Through IBM Sterling, Coliance can show when orders were placed and whether the correct stock items were requested,” says Fuchs. “That allows us to avoid penalties for missed or incorrect orders, adding up to significant cost-savings.”

Thanks to IBM Sterling technology, Coliance helps Brother International Europe seamlessly accommodate thousands of EDI transactions each month, even in times of supply chain disruption. As a result, the company can respond fast to both challenges and opportunities, sharpening its competitive edge.

Fuchs concludes: “The combination of Coliance expertise and IBM Sterling technology helps us to ensure that we can exceed our customers’ expectations time after time. For example, when the pandemic disrupted our supply chain, fine-grained control over EDI gave us the insight and agility we needed to overcome the challenge. Our supply chain is core to the Brother International Europe business, and with Coliance and IBM, we know that our EDI processes are in safe hands.”

Brother International Europe Ltd logo
About Brother International Europe Ltd

With its European headquarters located in Manchester, UK, Brother International EuropeExternal Link provides products and services designed to increase efficiency, boost productivity and encourage collaboration in the workplace.

About Coliance

An IBM Gold Business Partner, ColianceExternal Link focuses on helping companies to transport, transform and visualize data. Coliance provides services including expert integration, managed file transfer, API and order management alongside software solutions.

Solution component
Brother International Europe Ltd logo
About Brother International Europe Ltd

With its European headquarters located in Manchester, UK, Brother International EuropeExternal Link provides products and services designed to increase efficiency, boost productivity and encourage collaboration in the workplace.

About Coliance

An IBM Gold Business Partner, ColianceExternal Link focuses on helping companies to transport, transform and visualize data. Coliance provides services including expert integration, managed file transfer, API and order management alongside software solutions.

Solution component