Press releases

Digitization makes supply chains more flexible and more efficient

Frankfurt, 31 January 2018

Forum Automotive Logistics in Frankfurt with around 450 participants

“Data are the currency of the future. This is also true in logistics. Used correctly, information creates flexibility and connectivity in the supply chain. It makes transports more efficient, cheaper and even more attractive to the customers,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the Forum Automotive Logistics in Frankfurt am Main. The event is the largest European meeting dedicated to automotive logistics. This is the sixth Forum organized by the German Logistics Association (BVL) and the VDA. Around 450 participants and 42 exhibitors are here in the Kap Europa congress center.

Wissmann drew attention to the slogan of this year’s Forum, “OPPORTUNITIES FROM TRANSPARENCY – perceiving, understanding and taking action.” He explained, “Digitizing and sharing data harbor enormous potentials for modern logistics processes. The German manufacturers and suppliers are pioneers in this field. They integrate new technologies into their highly complex supply chains all the time. Data about forecasts, orders, deliveries, status and payments are already exchanged electronically. Digital platforms help in coordinating supply and demand almost in real time. Driverless transport systems and precise tracking and tracing are becoming more important.”

Wissmann also stressed, “In the future modern driver assistance systems and automated driving functions such as platooning will not only reduce the number of accidents and collisions, but will also improve profitability and efficiency in the transport sector. Policies must provide a secure legal framework to support innovations like these. Digitization and automation require a high-performance road infrastructure. The next German Government should take action on this point and make a determined move to encourage investments in the transport infrastructure, particularly in the western regions of the country.”

On the second day of the forum, BVL Board Chairman Prof. Robert Blackburn will deliver a keynote address on the digital transformation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – a topic that is especially relevant to logistics service providers and to supply firms in the automotive industry. “Regarding the preparations for digitization, the German economy is highly motivated overall,” Blackburn says, adding: “But when it comes to the necessary investments in digitization, many German SMEs are lagging behind. Yet it is precisely these companies that can help in using scarce resources more efficiently in the future.”

The key topics at this year’s forum include automation and digitization in the supply chain, effective and transparent use of data, risk management and new concepts for customer-oriented logistics. These subjects will be examined by logistics experts from the OEMs and suppliers, along with business consultants and scientists.

The first day of the event kicked off with three exciting keynote speeches: Jürgen Maidl, Head of Logistics, BMW Group Production Network, spoke about the transparent self-controlling and connected logistics of the future. Hans-Georg Frey, Chairman of the Board of Management at Jungheinrich, presented networked solutions for human beings, machines and warehouses in the wake of Intralogistics 4.0. Dr. Frederik Zohm, Chief Research and Development Officer at MAN Truck & Bus, explained to the audience how MAN is shaping the future.

In the following plenary session on the topic of “Transport management – digital and autonomous,” experts provided an insight into the status and development of digital solutions in practice. The speakers included Anita Pieper, Vice-President Vehicle Distribution of the BMW Group, and Erminio Di Paola, Head of Tracking – IoT at HERE Deutschland in Berlin.

In the afternoon, the participants could choose between two parallel sessions on the topics of effects of automation in logistics, and supply chain risk management. The parallel sessions covered auto ID technologies and the future of mobility. The VDA Logistics Award was then presented at the evening event.

The second congress day will focus on the question of how Brexit might affect the automotive industry and logistics. This will be examined by Prof. Michael Hüther, Director of the German Economic Institute in Cologne.

Before that, Oliver Jung, head of production, purchasing and logistics and Chief Operating Officer at Schaeffler, will give a keynote address on customer-orientation in logistics when using innovative technologies. BVL Chairman Prof. Robert Blackburn will dedicate his lecture to seeing the digital transformation in SMEs as a “Genuine challenge – great opportunity.” During the following presentation, participants will hear more about the project that scooped the VDA Logistics Award on the previous evening. Further topics for the second congress day will be the difficult area bridging blockchain and big data, and forecast and service-level measurement in the aftermarket.

The two-day event will finish off with an opportunity for the participants to visit the Lufthansa Cargo Hub in Frankfurt am Main, the REWE distribution center RED 63 in Neu-Isenburg, or the Opel classic car workshop in Rüsselsheim.



Sandra Courant
German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)
Press Department
Tel.: +49 30 897842-124


Anja Stubbe
German Logistics Association (BVL)
Corporate Communications
Tel.: +49 421 1738423

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