VDA and BVL Automotive Logistics Forum in Frankfurt am Main
“In 2015, for the first time ever, the German automotive industry produced more than 15 million cars worldwide, over 9 million of which were built outside Germany. This wide production network is held together by a logistics system that is becoming ever more global and complex. Automotive logistics are thus a key success factor for the automotive industry”, said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the Forum Automobillogistik (Automotive Logistics Forum) in Frankfurt am Main. “Crises, disasters, strikes and many other turbulences did not decrease throughout the world in the past year. On the contrary, they increased and set new challenges for the logistics specialists. In the past year strikes above all by the German railway workers’ union GDL were critical. The automotive logistics providers mastered this challenge without production coming to a standstill”, continued Wissmann.
In the logistics sector Germany has a good reputation to defend. Wissmann: “Germany is the world’s leading logistics nation. We are number one on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index.” He went on to say that Germany was very well positioned as a logistics location, especially as regards customs clearance, expertise of the logistics service providers, punctuality of the overall system and infrastructure. However, looking at the state of transport routes, the VDA President warned, “In order to stay at the top it is necessary to reduce the investment backlog of the past years. That is why it is encouraging that the investment level for Germany’s highways is to be increased distinctly this year – from around EUR 5 billion to EUR 6.2 billion. This will stimulate modernization. What is important, however, is that this investment level be continued beyond the current legislative period.”
He pointed out that the automotive logistics specialists themselves were working at high pressure on further digitizing of the delivery chains – that was why the slogan of the Automotive Logistics Forum was “Supply Chain 4.0”. The greatest challenge here was horizontal digitization, in other words integration between all the partners in the supply chain, from the raw material suppliers to the vehicle manufacturers. “Supply Chain 4.0 means that all objects in the delivery chain can be identified digitally and located. From the container vessel to the small transport box, in future, each element will be able to report its position and condition automatically. This will allow logistics specialists to steer operations even more precisely and respond even better to any disturbances”, said Wissmann.
Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann presented his company’s innovative logistics solutions in his speech and emphasized the importance of logistics for the automotive industry. “Opel has changed its approach. We have changed our corporate culture. More than 36,000 staff in Europe know how important values such as customer orientation, speed and entrepreneurial responsibility are. This also applies for logistics, where we have realized many innovative solutions”, reported Neumann. Looking towards the future, Dr. Neumann continued, “Optimizing individual value streams will not be sufficient to survive in the face of competition in future. Synchronizing the entire value network offers great potential for optimization. This will improve efficiency, transparency and flexibility.” Many ideas, technologies and initiatives that were being taken up in the automotive industry within the context of Industry 4.0 were also being used in the logistics sector. His company had high expectations of this technological development. However he believed that innovations and their introduction should not be one-way streets in the direction of the logistic partners and suppliers. It would only be possible to realize the optimization potential in full by applying joint efforts.
VDA President Wissmann also stressed the European importance of the “Forum Automobillogistik” as a congress for logistics in the automotive industry: “420 participants show that VDA and BVL have created an event that is beyond compare in Europe.” The event was being organized jointly by the VDA and BVL for the fourth time already in 2016.
Alongside Opel CEO Neumann and VDA President Wissmann, Dr. Hansjörg Rodi, Chief Transformation Officer of Schenker AG, held the keynote address on the first day of the Forum. Matthias Kässer from McKinsey and Michael ten Hompel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics then reported on the future of Supply Chain Management in the automotive industry. Further topics were digitization, data quality for logistics, new avenues in transport logistics and challenges in the global aftermarket.
The second day of the Forum tomorrow will offer a keynote speech by Alexander Koesling, Vice President Supply Chain Management at Mercedes-Benz Cars, and then two parallel sequences on the risks of global purchasing and packaging issues. At the close of the Forum, participants will move from the lecture hall to real-life practice. The Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, the European Operations Center of DB Schenker Rail and the Frankfurt-Rödelheim plant of Continental AG will be opening their gates for factory tours.