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Sigma-Aldrich and Retarus Found the Right Chemistry

In today’s competitive global market, companies have to focus on what they do best, and for efficiency, outsource everything else. With revenues of $2.7 billion, Sigma-Aldrich is one of the world’s top three chemicals manufacturers and has chosen Retarus to handle its EDI and fax correspondence from SAP.

Initial Situation

Key Global Communication Processes

With offices in around 40 countries and over 1.4 million customers worldwide, the Sigma-Aldrich Corporation relies on smooth communication processes and close customer relations at every level. Sigma-Aldrich has chosen Retarus for two core aspects of its communication processes involving overseas customers and partners: EDI and fax from SAP R/3. These two solutions may not seem to have much in common at first glance, but they are both of critical importance to Sigma-Aldrich’s global activities.


Integrate Overseas Customers into Business Processes

Sigma-Aldrich and Retarus successfully partnered in 2002 with an EDI project when Sigma-Aldrich was looking for a partner to seamlessly replace their existing service provider and ensure a stable live EDI environment within just 14 working days. In response to the booming market in China, Sigma-Aldrich and Retarus developed a joint EDI solution that allowed Sigma-Aldrich to easily integrate Chinese customers into their system. Based on the success of this project, Sigma-Aldrich chose Retarus for the fax management of its R/3 system.

“Retarus not only delivered Unicode support from the very beginning, but Sigma-Aldrich benefits from the complete cost transparency and the significant increase in the transaction safety of their fax communication.”

Oliver Pannenbäcker, Vice President, retarus GmbH

Primary Challenges

Integrating More Than 100 Customers Located in 13 Different Countries

Sigma-Aldrich’s ERP system connected to Retarus’ data centers via FTP over VPN to integrate customers located all over the world. Retarus then implemented additional protocols – SMTP and X.400 – for Sigma’s EDI partners, set up interfaces for the EDIFACT and CSV target formats, and provided mapping for all processes. Retarus completed the Cloud EDI integration within the stipulated two-week deadline, and provided all documentation in addition to comprehensive testing. Chinese customers were connected without a glitch, despite the fact that some orders contained Chinese characters. Retarus found a solution to convert these important orders to SAP-IDoc format without loss of content and also created a workflow for turnaround documents including Chinese characters in an Excel format.


Unicode Ready Fax Transmissions All over the World from SAP R/3

Faxolution for SAP allows faxes to be sent directly from SAP without needing an in-house fax infrastructure and without incurring any fax server installation, maintenance, update or licensing costs. Sigma-Aldrich’s R/3 system sends out several thousand faxes worldwide each month, making the SAP-certified fax service’s Unicode compatibility of crucial importance. Retarus’ NeverBusy technology ensures a delivery rate of 99.9%, in addition to maximum transaction security. Bottlenecks are a thing of the past when sending batches of documents.

The direct connection between Sigma-Aldrich’s SAP infrastructure and Retarus means that critical processes such as orders, invoices and transport requests can be performed extremely fast. Delivery statuses are sent directly to the SAP system in order to promptly identify any delays that may occur and take the proper action. Thanks to its longstanding expertise when it comes to electronic invoicing, Retarus developed an e-invoicing project, successfully connecting partner companies located in Scandinavia and Great Britain.

Key Benefits

  • Transparent costs and detailed reports
  • High level of flexibility and scalability
  • Secure data exchange
  • SAP Certified Integration / Certified for SAP NetWeaver
  • SAP Unicode ready quality seal

Ongoing Expansion of the EDI Platform

Sigma-Aldrich’s decision to use Retarus Faxolution for SAP led to a major increase in fax communication security and additional cost transparency right from the moment it was rolled out. More and more partners are continuously being added to Sigma-Aldrich’s EDI platform, with custom mappings if required.

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