Production and Logistics

The year 2013 was characterized by a very high level of production of cars, and a slightly lower level for the truck sector. The ever-growing number of derivatives means that logistics operators throughout the entire supply networks of the global automotive industry are being faced by new challenges time and time again.

The Committees of the Production and Logistics Department

The Logistics Committee steers all the logistics activities within the VDA. It is responsible for the most important interface between producers and suppliers. The purpose of the VDA’s logistics activities is to safeguard and strengthen the automotive industry’s competitiveness. The committee develops mid- to long-term strategies for the supply chain, identifies new strategic fields, allocates resources for projects, provides project financing, and determines the structure of the logistics work groups. The committee meets four times a year with the heads of all work groups to steer activities and to determine required resources. Furthermore, the committee is responsible for the Forum Automotive Logistics’ program. Within the committee work, the focus of logistics lies on the electronic and digital interface between companies, the standardization of documents and business processes, the improvement of regulations regarding transport policies, the increase of sustainability in warehousing and transport processes, as well as the standardization of new technologies.

The Production Committee steers all the production activities within the VDA. It is responsible for the automotive industry’s core field, the value-added creation of a product. The purpose of the VDA’s production activities is the exchange regarding production-related policies as well as precompetitive standardization. The committee develops mid- to long-term strategies, identifies new strategic fields, allocates resources for projects, provides project financing, and determines the structure of the production work groups. The committee meets four times a year to steer activities and to determine required resources.

Within the VDA, production focuses on the following topics. The effects of digitalization on production methods, personnel training in the production field, adapting to the technological transformation, securing and developing site related factors relevant to production, as well as standardizing processes relating to the human/machine interface.

The committee Auto ID deals with all technologies for the automatic identification of objects such as finished vehicles, supply parts and containers. The application of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is the focus subject. In the past, industry experts had already worked out recommendations on how this technology can uniformly be introduced and applied in the automotive industry, taking into account the existing ISO standards.

In a project (RAN - RFID Automotive Network) promoted by the Federal Ministry of Economics further practical experience has been obtained until 2012. This experience should now be included in the appropriate VDA recommendations.

Main concern is the development of a standardized network infrastructure and the cross-enterprise data interchange of events and states in the supply chain, which were determined automatically by RFID technology.

Together with other committees in the VDA, the committee develops strategies for the introduction and use of key technologies in the field of reusable packaging in the supply chain, which are also important for the topic Industry 4.0.

The e-invoicing committee deals with the description of accounting processes and the development, maintenance and use of data structures for the electronic exchange of invoice and self-billed invoice data in the automotive industry.

Invoice and self-billed invoice data exchange are complex processes that must meet both the requirements of diverse business processes and satisfy legal requirements. In the legal requirements both the principles of orderly computerised accounting as well as the requirements from the VAT Act play a central role.

With the Tax Bureaucracy Reduction Act from 2009, it was possible to transmit accounting data via EDI without additional paper information, provided  the processes and applied technical procedures ensure the authenticity of origin and integrity of the invoices and the contents meet the requirements of VAT legislation.

The committee e-invoicing develops best-practice recommendations for the implementation of these requirements in the companies of the automotive industry.

They also deal intensively with the integration of new developments in the accounting and crediting procedures, not only for production material, but also for raw materials and supplies. The integration of small and medium-sized enterprises play an increasing role, as only then the full potential of electronic accounting for mutual benefit can be developed.

Further topics of interest are those which affect cross-border invoice data exchange (cross-border e-invoicing). Members of the committee, in line with Odette, work intensively together with colleagues from other European countries to publish harmonized recommendations for the use of electronic accounting procedures in Europe and the worldwide supply chain.

The committee KIT develops recommendations for cross-enterprise electronic data interchange (EDI) in the supply chain. Focus in 2013 was the continuation of the development of new recommendations for data exchange with suppliers and service providers in the supply chain. In detail, recommendations for the exchange of delivery call-off data in just-in-time and just-in-sequence processes as well as for the transmission of dispatch advice data were developed and published. These new recommendations were necessary because the old ones (some older than 30 years) failed to meet the increased requirements of new logistics concepts and processes.

To ensure the broadest possible international applicability of the new recommendations, the data exchange with UN / EDIFACT was selected, with XML as alternative specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. On behalf of the committees e-invoicing and VAT, a project group of the committee KIT also developed a technical specification for the transmission of ‘Entry Certificates for VAT purposes’ with EDI. The above mentioned topics will also dominating the work of the committee in the near future, however - after communication with the suppliers - now communication with the logistics service providers plays a stronger role. In this context, a recommendation for the electronic transmission of the carrier's confirmation will be developed together with the DSLV. Therewith the topic entry certificate should be completed.

The task of CoC Packaging is to identify and solve current logistics problems in the flow of materials, which have an impact on load carriers and containers.

Under this topic automotive manufacturers and suppliers develop harmonised packaging concepts based on a collaborative spirit which respects the interests of all involved partners in a fair and mutually respectfully spirit. This includes requirements specification derived from logistics processes, developing design rules for a cost efficient production of load carriers and containers and issuing rules for their handling in the supply chain.

The term digital factory has been defined by the German Engineers’ Association: “The digital factory is a term summarising a comprehensive network of digital models, methods and tools – amongst others for simulation and 3D visualisation – which are integrated by a seamless data management. The goal is the holistic planning, evaluation and continuous improvement of a real factory’s important structures, processes and resources in relation to the product.” (VDI-guideline VDI4499, page 1:2008-2, see also

The Digital Factory aims to digitally represent the real factory planning from the development phase of the products via the production planning up to the start-up and operational phase with various methods, tools and IT support. The challenge is to meet the competition induced growing requirements of the industry regarding flexibility and necessity of changes.

The Digital Factory Committee organises the exchange of experiences regarding digital planning and promotes a common understanding between OEM and suppliers in relation to methodology and processes. Based on a commonly shared view, standards, recommendations or guidelines are to be developed and requirements of the automotive industry concerning the development of software tools for digital factory planning are specified.

The Digital Factory Committee is the representative and spokesman of OEM and suppliers within the VDA for this subject matter. In order to fulfil its mission the committee organises co-operation with other related bodies and platforms, if useful also on an international level. For specific topics the committee establishes project and working groups.

Active working groups:

  • WG Process Simulation
  • WG Digital factory Planning
  • WG Logistics Planning (inactive)
  • WG Assembly Planning (inactive)
  • WG Production Planning
  • WG Virtual Start-up
  • PG AML

The E-12 committee focuses on the exchange of experiences regarding use of portal applications between manufacturers and suppliers. Internet-based supplier portals have emerged and developed into a cornerstone of supplier integration. Administrators have to face the challenge of a world-wide user management, which has to meet the increased security requirements of all involved partners without causing too much administrative effort. The committee has dealt intensively with organisational and technical options for a central user management in large, international enterprises. Furthermore, first experiences of using social media within the company and in the supply chain have been analysed. 

The committee PLM aims to develop technical and organizational processes so that product data can be transmitted economically, efficiently and reliably in the heterogeneous system landscapes in the automotive and supplier industry.

In terms of standardization the committee PLM works together with national (e.g. ProSTEP iViP) and international organizations (e.g. ISO).

Active project groups are:

  • Electric systems in vehicles
  • JT
  • STEP AP 242
  • Paperless Processes
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