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Automation: error-free and legally compliant

With the DriveBenefits value-added portfolio, SEW-Eurodrive generates benefits for its customers' business processes in the areas of purchasing, materials management and intralogistics.
E-3 Magazine
August 5, 2013
[shutterstock:454458574, MaxxiGo]
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

This also includes the dispatch of invoices. Five years ago, the company then modernized the previous process. SEW-Eurodrive had already been using electronic invoicing via EDI for some time.

However, the outdated VDA format for electronic invoices developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry for electronic data exchange proved to be problematic.

In the future, therefore, all electronic data exchange should take place via Edifact.

Frank Bohnert, Group Manager Business Processes Sales at SEW-Eurodrive:

"On the one hand, we wanted to convert existing customers who were still using the previous VDA format to Edifact. We had already had good experience with this.

And on the other hand, we wanted to offer additional customers an electronic data exchange in order to be able to process the entire invoice dispatch in a uniform manner, if possible."

Another project goal was to outsource invoice dispatch to a service provider that would act as a multiplier.

Here, they came across Basware through a recommendation from a customer. The purchase-to-pay specialist has a broad user base in the automotive sector.

"From our point of view, this fact alone already spoke very strongly in favor of Basware. Nevertheless, we conducted our usual market sounding and product evaluation before a definitive decision was made",

explains Frank Bohnert.

In the course of this selection process, the e-invoicing solution from the Finnish provider came out on top. Based on a printer driver, this solution captures commercial data fully automatically, converts it, checks it for plausibility and transmits the information to the recipient in a predefined structure.

The changeover to the new procedure for sending invoices went smoothly - the employees already had practical experience with the Edifact format.

With only two to three man-days, the transition to fully automated invoicing was accomplished.

From the ERP system to the invoice document

SEW-Eurodrive manages its procurement data in SAP ERP, from which the data goes to the Business Integration Server of B2B integration specialist Seeburger for conversion.

From there, the prepared data is then automatically forwarded to Basware in Edifact format.

"We have actually achieved maximum process integration and automation here"

notes Frank Bohnert.

"It doesn't get more direct and automated than this!"

With the previous approach, the company had to administer the shipping process itself. Today, on the other hand, it only acts as a sender to Basware as its sole partner.

This takes care of sending the electronic invoices to the respective recipients in accordance with the requirements.

SEW-Eurodrive also delegates special requirements such as the implementation of customer requests for invoicing - for example, the specification of additional references for their account assignment.

"Here we also use Basware as a coordinating service provider."

Bohnert says.

IT-related errors are eliminated as a result, operations run stably, now and then a query regarding the content of an invoice arises due to unclear order data.

SEW-Eurodrive is now planning to expand the original project scope. After all, every paper document processing saved means lower costs - both for customers and for the company.

Even if customers work with another service provider, nothing changes for the drive specialist thanks to the roaming option. This is because it makes it possible to continue sending the invoice data to just one service provider, who then takes over distribution to further recipients.

Advantage: Certification

SEW-Eurodrive also sees particular added value in the certification of Basware:

"This guarantees us legal certainty in the jungle of financial legislation without having to worry about the complicated details"

says Bohnert.

"This is an area where Basware has extensive expertise, which we occasionally tap into in the form of consulting services."

Certification not only serves as a reference and proof of legally compliant documented processes for customers, but also as an argument when it comes to winning new customers for the electronic process.

Outlook: International Invoice Exchange

Basware has been distributing SEW-Eurodrive's invoices in Finland for some time.

This paves the way for the expansion of e-invoicing to SEW-Eurodrive's national companies.

The company is also interested in expanding the service to other documents. The focus here is on customer needs.

In addition to the invoice, purchase orders and order confirmations are also important.

"An end-to-end process view, as we maintain with the DriveBenefits value-added portfolio, is a powerful argument with our customers."

explains Frank Bohnert.

"After all, the focus is now not only on production processes, but also on the commercial area. Because this is where companies can still benefit from significant efficiency gains."



  • End-to-end processes for maximum speed and precision in invoice processing
  • Outsourcing of invoice dispatch to a service provider who acts as a multiplier for the complete invoice dispatch process
  • Existing customers who were still using the previous VDA format should switch to EDIFACT.


  • Error-free, legally compliant and timely processes
  • SEW-Eurodrive as a transmitter to a single partner
  • Basware takes care of sending the electronic invoices to the respective recipients in accordance with requirements
  • Legal certainty in financial legislation: Certification acts as a reference and proof of legally compliant documented processes.

System and solution:

  • E-invoicing: based on a printer driver, data is captured, converted, checked and transmitted to the recipient fully automatically
  • Procurement data is managed in SAP ERP
  • Conversion of the data via the Business Integration Server of the B2B integration specialist Seeburger.

SEW-Eurodrive generated sales of 2.4 billion euros in fiscal year 2012 and employs around 14,000 people in 15 manufacturing plants and 75 Drive Technology Centers in 45 countries. The product range extends from gearmotors, gear units and motors to electronically controlled drives and mechanical variable speed drives. The products meet different requirements ranging from fast, dynamic and high-precision, as in DVD production, to large and powerful, as required for container terminals.


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