The chemical industry is one of the most important branches of industry in Germany. More than 460,000 employees work in German chemical and pharmaceutical companies - around 50,000 of them at CHEMPARK in North Rhine-Westphalia. With sites in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen, the industrial site covering a total of 11 square kilometers is one of the largest chemical parks in Europe. One third of all chemical production in North Rhine-Westphalia takes place here, and the trend is rising. The best indicator of this is the investment volume of the 70 or so companies based at the CHEMPARK, which has been rising steadily for years. Most recently, they invested a total around € 1.5 billion (2019) in expansion and maintenance. "We can clearly say that the CHEMPARK sites are in a very stable and economically sound position", emphasizes CHEMPARK Head Lars Friedrich. "This means we continue to be one of the most successful chemical sites throughout Europe."
Not least, that is due to the good work of the operating company CURRENTA. It manages the entire infrastructure, maintaining around 1,800 buildings, more than 100 kilometers of plant roads, the almost 650-kilometer-long sewer network, wharves, tracks and pipe bridges. "We ensure that our customers' production operations at the Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen sites can run smoothly at all times," says CURRENTA CEO Frank Hyldmar, summing up the company's concept. In addition to pure space and facility management, CURRENTA's service portfolio comprises a wide range of other services. These include holistic supply and disposal as well as safety and security concepts, training programs and plant and analytical services. "This allows CHEMPARK companies to concentrate fully on their core business," explains Hyldmar.
To avoid losing track of the billing for its numerous services, CURRENTA relies on the service charging platform netinsight from nicetec. "Many of the services we provide cannot be mapped via our SAP systems," explains Frank Baaske. He works in CURRENTA's Information & Organization department to ensure that the entire order handling process runs smootly, from ordering to billing. And thus has his hands full: After all, in the energy business alone, millions of euros are billed each month in the mid-double-digit range, plus additional billings from upstream systems. "Without nicetec's technology, this would hardly be possible," he says.
The platform, known internally as the Universal Data Collector or UDC for short, brings together billing information from various upstream systems, checks and prepares it, and then transmits the results fully automatically to the SAM system. This not only speeds up service billing, but also paves the way for efficient reporting and highly transparent billing processes. In addition, the system contributes to high billing quality. "The UDC takes all data relevant for the billing processes from the various sources, such as our customers SAP systems, and automatically compares them with our cost centers," explains Baaske. And discrepancies are thus detected at an early stage. Therefore, subsequent invoice corrections due to incorrect data are a raity at CURRENTA.
Another advantage of the platform is the seamless integration of processes from ordering a service to billing it. This is because CURRENTA customers can order the services they require, such as additional disposal work or special analytical services with a mouse-click and the specification of the relevant cost center. Once, the service has been provided, the UDC automatically triggers the billing process. "The platform runs trouble-free and very stable. We are more than satisfied with the nicetec solution," says Baaske.
It was already like this when CURRENTA was still part of the Bayer Group and obtained the solution as a managed service from Bayer's internal IT service provider. In 2019, CURRENTA was sold by Bayer to infrastructure investor Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Mira). "It was clear for us that the UDC would continue to be of great importance to us. That's why we were happy to take over the solution from Bayer Business Services in the spring of 2020," recalls the IT expert. It was a decision that the CHEMPARK operator didn't have to think about for one second. "After all, we had already been using the nicetec platform for many years and therefore knew from our own experience what it could do," says Baaske.
The change from mere user to solution owner was the logical consequence for CURRENTA - especially since CURRENTA can now adapt the platform even better to its individual requirements. "Today's solution no longer has much in common with the original Bayer Business Services version," emphasizes nicetec Managing Director Ralf Meyer. In close coordination with CURRENTA and IT service provider Tata Consulting (TCS), the new UDC platform was adapted to CURRENTA's billing processes and integrated with the upstream systems so that data transfer continues to be seamless and fully automatic. Due to the high level of complexity, this was an immense feat of strenght.
After all, CURRENTA first had to build up the necessary expertise in-house from scratch. It also had to find out which system were supplying data and where new interfaces were needed. After all, CURRENTA now provides very different services. In the past, the UDC was primarily used to charge IT services. Today, it also has to process green space cutting, waste disposal services and occupational health services, for example.
"Thanks to the excellent support of the nicetec staff, we were able to successfully manage the highly complex transfer of the UDC into the CURRENTA world," says Baaske, referring to the enormous commitment as well as the high level of expertise and professional competence of the nicetec consultants. Baaske also says he can rely on the manufacturer during ongoing operations: "When we have questions about the UDC, nicetec usually has an answer ready within a very short time," he praises. And CURRENTA can also count on the manufacturer for further develoment of the solution:" Together with nicetec, we have already identified some interesting starting points," says Baaske. These are the best prerequisites for exploiting the solutions's further potential step by step.
International locations also benefit directly from the increased transparency. Standardized invoice documents and a centralized process will increase the understanding and traceabiliy of invoice contents in detail as well as the management perspective in terms of an overall view. In addition, related documents can be independently accessed by local users at any time through insighTPro's web-based service portal, making the need for individual file storage obsolete.
The same web-based access further enables all service providers to deliver billing-relevant information easily and in a homogeneous structure. This means that all calculation methods and entries can be tracked centrally and completely. Accordingly, internal and external queries can be answered reliably, quickly and profoundly at any time.
CURRENTA manages and operates one of the largest chemical sites in Europe. As a modern company, the service provider creates optimum research and production conditions for the approximately 70 companies at the CHEMPARK. CURRENTA's services range from materials and energy supply, analytical services and environmental management to comprehensive infrastructure services and safety concepts.