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Integrate supplier diversity with just one click

Hoerbiger case study

Choose from a wide range of products and benefit from full control and transparency

Bazaar turned shopping centre

By using the Mercateo procurement platform, the long-standing company HOERBIGER has digitised their indirect spend and drastically reduced their processing costs. The globally active company also uses the B2B network Unite for its non-indirect spend items which opens up a wide range of new suppliers with just one click. Unite can be easily accessed via Mercateo.


A bazaar with narrow walkways. A confusing maze leading its shoppers through a vast selection of goods. Thousands of traders claiming that their products are the best and the cheapest of all. Finding the best deal here is like embarking on an adventure. Ralph Ulmer, Head of Corporate Purchasing and Executive Vice President of HOERBIGER Germany, wasn’t up for this type of adventure when he was searching for a procurement solution.

HOERBIGER is a major player in the energy sector and operates across oil, gas and automotive industries worldwide. In 2019, its 6,700 employees generated a turnover of more than €1bn across 123 locations in 47 countries. HOERBIGER’s products and services are used for gas flow regulation, vehicle transmission and explosion prevention, among others.

Bazaar turned shopping centre

Ralph Ulmer has worked at HOERBIGER since July 2010. As a procurement expert, he knew exactly what he wanted: the diversity of a bazaar, but structured. What mattered to him most were transparency, comparability, product availability and ease of use.

At the same time, Ulmer wanted to reduce processing costs and increase the value that the purchasing department could contribute to the company: And with over 73,000 C-item orders, each worth less than €70 per year, that’s not an easy feat. What Ulmer realised is that finding a new solution that everyone’s happy with is easier said than done. He’d previously set up a project and discovered that even a pen with a value of just €1.09 could cause issues for colleagues.

That’s why a new simple, digital solution was paramount HOERBIGER first established contact with Mercateo at the BME symposium. Then in October 2018, Ulmer launched a pilot project using the Mercateo procurement platform as a web solution. Ulmer’s goal was to utilise the product diversity of Mercateo’s pre-integrated marketplace to considerably reduce processing costs.

Ralph Ulmer, Hoerbiger

Mercateo held great training sessions. But really, the system is intuitive and requires little admin effort. I believe that’s the key to success.

Ralph Ulmer, Head of Corporate Purchasing & Executive Vice President at Hoerbiger Germany

Reduced processing costs with every order

The rollout process, including Mercateo’s training sessions, was completed within just a few weeks. Today, HOERBIGER uses Mercateo’s web solution in nine of its production plants. And three locations in Austria, Switzerland and Poland are in the pipeline. Additionally, 15 of the company’s key suppliers have been integrated into Mercateo’s solution as BusinessShop Plus. This cooperation proves effective: since Mercateo was introduced, administrative costs per order have gone down considerably.

With Mercateo we were able to digitise the majority of our processes. Thanks to its user management, our purchasing department across the company is now freed up to deal with other issues. Our employees can now make their own purchases through the digital approval workflow. But we still have full control and transparency of who orders what within the company. Ideally, we no longer need people to intervene manually except when it comes to good receipt posting. Unite's credit note procedure helps us save additional processing costs.

Ralph Ulmer, Hoerbiger Germany

Supplier diversity with just one click

When it comes to the digitisation of non-indirect spend items, Ralph Ulmer takes it a step further. In another pilot project, HOERBIGER uses the Unite B2B network, which is accessible through Mercateo. Mercateo users like Ulmer can access Unite through the procurement platform and discover a wide range of suppliers. Depending on his needs, the purchasing expert can then easily integrate new suppliers into his usual digital procurement processes on Mercateo using the Unite Store.

Mercateo users can choose from a wide range of products and benefit from full control and transparency. Photo: Copyright Wavebreak Media

Introducing the Unite Store comes with considerable benefits for him. He can use it to integrate existing suppliers into the network as well as digitise business processes with his manufacturers and specialist dealers. Ulmer also benefits from a large number of pre-integrated suppliers that he and his colleagues can easily integrate into their network.

Building relationships without system restrictions: with just one click, suppliers can be activated and individual conditions agreed upon. Unite doesn’t interfere with these relationships: Suppliers and customers are in direct communication, the network provides the required technical infrastructure and enables standardised processes, including payment.

Flexible supplier app

Purchasing expert Ulmer was impressed by the idea of Unite’s app solution as well as the integration with a network. Should Ulmer and his colleagues no longer be interested in a relationship with a supplier, they can cancel the supplier app at any time with only one click.

Plenty of time for interpersonal relationships

At HOERBIGER, it’s the combination of pioneering spirit and courage that matters. For over a century, this company has made it its mission to treat business partners and employees fairly. As far as introducing a new procurement solution is concerned, Ulmer also holds on to this principle.

Setting up new suppliers caused us large amounts of admin efforts in the past. We can add suppliers to our network and adapt it to suit our requirements. This has also truly helped us in going digital. It's a completely revolutionary way of handling indirect spend.

Ralph Ulmer, Hoerbiger Germany

Reach out to colleagues and invest lots of time in interpersonal relationships. Photo: Copyright unsplash.com

That’s why it was crucial for him to promote understanding and transparency within the company. He learned how important it is to reach out to colleagues and invest lots of time in interpersonal relationships. And thanks to the reduced administrative efforts, he now has the chance to do just that.

Address your colleagues’ individual needs and concerns. Try to engage and involve them in the new process. It’s worth it!

Ralph Ulmer, Hoerbiger Germany

Ulmer plans to continue his cooperation with Mercateo and Unite in the future as well. The next step is to integrate the Unite App Store in the company and to familiarise employees with the solution.

We’re looking forward to finding partners who will join us. We've found something that suits us.

Ralph Ulmer, Hoerbiger Germany

HOERBIGER: Facts and figures

HOERBIGER is a worldwide player in the oil, gas and process industries, the automotive industry and safety technology. Its products and services are used in piston compressors, gas flow control systems, vehicle transmissions, gas engines, automotive hydraulics and comprehensive explosion prevention solutions.

Legal form:

Stock company (foundation as majority shareholder)

Founded:

1895

Sector:

Industrial

Headquarters:

Zug (Switzerland), 123 locations across 40 countries

Headcount:

6,944 employees

Annual turnover:

€1.222 billion

Website:

www.hoerbiger.com