What’s new in automotive logistics?

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If you want to find out what’s new in automotive logistics, there’s one place to be – the Automobile Logistics Forum. Held in Leipzig again this year, the event was attended by decision-makers from top OEMs, suppliers and logistics service providers.

So, what was this year’s hot topic?

How can technology provide transparency and collaboration, and support forecasting? The answer came from BVL Chairman, Prof Raimund Klinkner.

“The global supply chain requires global communication.” Klinkner stressed the interplay of industrial production, logistics and IT. “Industry 4.0 requires further development of methods and procedures from supply chain management and logistics in Germany. Rapidly developing IT is creating new possibilities for logistics.”

Challenges old and new

Marzell Bandur, director supply chain planning at ADAM Opel in Rüsselsheim, described a challenge familiar to many car manufacturers. “Our aim is to meet customer orders and changes to customer orders flexibly. In doing so, we retain the cost benefits of worldwide purchasing.” Or put another way, car manufacturers are trying to purchase a larger proportion of their parts in low-cost countries – particularly in Asia but also in other continents. But this should not compromise flexibility in order processing and stability and reliability in production.

This dilemma is nothing new. Previously, there were two ways to keep the risks of inter-continental supply chains manageable – but they cost a lot of money and partly undo the purchasing cost benefits.

Thanks to improved IT performance and the connecting of suppliers, logistics service providers and carriers have been able to replace inventories with information. So what’s next? Now it’s time to make sense of that collaborative data to make truly optimal decisions and accurate forecasts.

Prestigious award for Opel’s innovative approach to order planning

Opel’s innovative approach to order planning won the prestigious VDA logistics award at this year’s event. The core of the solution: Opel breaks with the classic processes of order planning and the resulting material call-offs. Both steps now take place in an integrated manner – and no longer one after the other. Special transport and part inventory from overseas have since been reduced by more than 20 percent and delivery reliability has risen by 12 percent.

Big data building cars more efficiently

Industry 4.0 and big data bring new possibilities to the world of supply chain and logistics. But speed of making data available across the entire supply chain is just one part of the solution. More importantly, companies must convert the flood of data into real insights and use that data to make better informed decisions.

How? With an intelligent planning and optimization solution. Optimization enables supply networks and production locations to be significantly improved. Armed with real insights, planners can, for example, choose the right supplier or which type of delivery is more cost-effective.

The bottom line? Smarter planning and optimization make automotive supply chains even more efficient.

Will companies leverage big data effectively? I can’t wait to find out at next year’s Automobile Logistics Forum.

Contributed by Björn Helmke