Automated processing of order confirmations:

Safe and reliable confirmations

STILL, leading provider of tailor-made, internal logistics has automated the processing of order confirmations for the procurement of spare parts with tangro software, making process flows faster, more transparent and more reliable.

Initially, they had in mind a solution working along the lines of a ‘Confirmed as ordered’ button. But contact with tangro showed that there’s much more to the process than that: OCR detection, automatic transfer of content into SAP, comparison with purchase order and storing the order confirmation for the purchase order. And this is exactly how order confirmations are now processed at STILL. Jan Grunwald, Analyst Supply Chain at STILL, explains:

“By automating the process with tangro, we are now able to make more efficient use of our time while also achieving high levels of transparency and certainty throughout purchasing."

“And because deadlines are in the system early on, customer satisfaction has risen too.”

Every year the three materials planning teams handle 200,000 active spare parts from more than 1000 different suppliers. 70 percent of order confirmations arrive via email and have to be entered in SAP and processed. On average, this process took 120 seconds, which with a volume of 100,000 order confirmations a year means a total of 2000 hours of work.

Automation has now made the entire process faster and more reliable.

tangro detects the purchase order number, enters the volume, price and deadline, compares this information with data from the purchase order and uses a traffic light function to indicate whether everything is OK, items don’t match up or data is missing. If the details in the confirmation are correct, the materials planners can post the document immediately in SAP. If not, they add the missing data or correct the contents.

Even confirmations which cannot actually be read by the computer can be processed with tangro. The solution works by taking the purchase order number, extracting the corresponding purchase order data from SAP and prefilling the boxes in the processing screen with these values. Again, the planners don’t need to type in anything, just simply compare the values used with the document image of the order confirmation. If everything is OK, these documents are posted instantly too. Jan Grunwald:

“It’s much faster than having to enter everything manually."

  • Industry
    Provider of tailor-made, internal logistics
  • Headquarter
    Hamburg (GE)
  • Subject
    Incoming order confirmations
  • Volume of documents
    100,000 order confirmations/year

High security and transparency in the entire purchasing process

Direct posting of correct order confirmations

Delivery dates early in the system

Extraction of corresponding order data

Simple post-processing through direct access to SAP data

Depiction of company-specific features

When reviewing order confirmations, the materials planners access the SAP master and transaction data directly.

“It’s perfect because we can jump straight to the purchase order in SAP from tangro. For example, if we need to adjust a value in SAP if negligible differences in price are found. It’s all done in a flash.”

It’s also important for STILL that data can be maintained at supplier level. This option is used a lot, especially with regard to delivery dates. It allows the planners to enter an individual buffer for each supplier and thereby ensure ultimately that the date on which goods are received is always noted.

“An accurate order confirmation with precise delivery date is hugely important for customer-specific spare parts in particular. And tangro is a great help in this respect.”

The solution can also handle company-specific special features as the planner is available as a selection field at header level. There is also scope for editing the price at a later date via a text field. This is important because the planners need to be able to enter the deadline as quickly as possible to avoid dunning runs. Instances do however arise where purchasing hasn't managed to check the price in time. This problem has been resolved by means of a special text field where price information can be stored later on.

This approach means that 99 percent of order confirmations are processed efficiently, rapidly and reliably. The remaining one percent is down to completely illegible documents or cases where the purchase order number has been entered the wrong way round. After all “if there’s nothing to work with, tangro can't process it,” says Grunwald. What’s more, the entire process is transparent and traceable. A glance at the document entry list indicates whether all order confirmations have been processed. And all order acceptances can be located at any time because tangro automatically attaches the document to the associated purchase order in SAP.

So the automation solution ticks all the boxes. It's in the process of extending the solution to the parent company Kion and other subsidiaries. And STILL itself is also extending its use of automation in document processing. For example, incoming invoices in the accounting department are also to be processed with tangro in the future. STILL is a pioneer in the automation of document processing.

As far as I’m concerned, tangro is state-of-the-art in terms of detection and intelligent interpretation of order confirmations in SAP.
Jan Grunwald Analyst Supply Chain


Autonomous fork lifts or efficient driver assistance systems – STILL knows how to create innovations. The Hamburg-based company is a leading provider of tailor-made, internal logistics and delivers intelligent combinations of fork lifts and storage techniques, software, services and service. STILL also promotes well-thought out solutions for its own internal processes.

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