“Mister AUTOSCAN” Hans-Peter Zillner looks back at the humble beginnings of AUTOSCAN with a very small number of customers.
Question: Once upon a time, AUTOSCAN only had one customer, right?
Hans-Peter Zillner: [laughs] Yes, that’s a way of putting it! A few years back, we started developing AUTOSCAN for one particular customer.
Question: How did it all start?
Hans-Peter: It all began in 2016. We started working more and more for the automotive sector and were surprised about how many warehouse processes were still done with pen and paper and that the data transfer speed was directly proportional to the walking speed of warehouse staff. This really hurt our computer scientist and process optimizer hearts, and we realized how much potential there still is.
Question: And that’s when the first customer entered the stage?
Hans-Peter: Yes, exactly! We were very lucky in finding a great partner in AVAG Holding. AVAG is one of Europe’s leading and was looking for a new solution to replace their outdated scanner software in their wholesale warehouses.
Question: So what happened during the development of the first AUTOSCAN version?
Hans-Peter: The close cooperation – more like a partnership – with AVAG allowed us to experience processes on-site, directly in their warehouses. We are no logistics experts with preconceived notions about how warehouses work and don’t provide ERP systems, which was a huge advantage.
Question: How so?
Hans-Peter: Because it enabled us to observe “real” everyday life in the warehouse without any bias. And our mindset was not to transfer existing ERP system functionalities to a mobile device in the simplest and most cost-effective way possible. We have a lot of experience with mobile apps and, from the very beginning, our goal was to create a solution that makes working in a warehouse as easy as possible – regardless of the ERP system’s structure in the background. AUTOSCAN delivers the right data to the right place within the ERP system without the need to change warehouse processes – we let data and goods flows converge.
Question: Are there any other areas where you could leverage your mobile software development experience?
Today, warehouse staff is increasingly of the “smartphone generation”.
Hans-Peter: Yes, we used it for design and usability. Some of the scanner solutions we replaced reminded me of the pocket calculators from my school days, which had monochromatic, digital numbers on a tiny display. Today, warehouse staff is increasingly of the “smartphone generation”, and they are used to modern, well-designed apps. We want them to enjoy working with AUTOSCAN!
Question: When did you launch AUTOSCAN?
Hans-Peter: The first roll-out took place in spring 2017 in a Viennese warehouse. It went on from there: The AUTOSCAN version for AVAG had interfaces to the dealer management system incadea. In cooperation with the Austrian incadea partner S4 Computer, we could convince other car dealers for various makes to use AUTOSCAN. Additionally, we forged more partnerships in countries like Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Norway and even Mauritius. We were delighted when we got CARDIS Reynolds on board, provider of the dealer management system FORMEL 1 evolution. Currently we have ten partners in nine countries.
Question: So AUTOSCAN is a product for the automotive sector?
Hans-Peter: Yes, and more! We did start in that sector but it has since become a solution for wholesalers, eCommerce and manufacturing companies from various sectors. We are constantly working on integrations with other ERP systems –for example a version for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, which will soon be rolled out at STAHLGRUBER.
Question: What does the future hold?
Hans-Peter: More! [laughs] My awesome team and I are continuously working on improving AUTOSCAN and adding new features. On the one hand, we want to keep AUTOSCAN up-to-date. On the other hand, we get valuable input from our partners and their customers. Our current goal is to improve the flow of goods beyond the warehouse. We are working on a new module for deliverers – from tour management and confirmation of delivery to returned goods. In other words: There’s a lot more in store!
About Hans-Peter Zillner
Hans-Peter is the mastermind behind AUTOSCAN. He started out as software developer in the CSS team, moved on to project manager/product owner and finally became a managing partner.