Volkswagen Group Logistics deploys new management tool for global supply chain in times of corona – BMW Group uses hardware-independent picking platform as innovative cloud-based software solution for worldwide production logistics
This year the VDA Logistics Award 2021, presented at the Forum Automotive Logistics, has two winners in first place: the coveted prize for outstanding innovations goes to Volkswagen Group Logistics and the BMW Group. The VDA Logistics Award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding logistics solutions that can serve as role-models for other companies in the automotive industry.
Hildegard Müller, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), stressed, “The VDA Logistics Award is the ‘Oscar’ of the logistics sector – and represents the impressive drive for innovation in the automotive business. The large number of entries is a testament to the prestige of this award. I congratulate the winners!
“In times of corona in particular, the companies have shown that they are developing and implementing new, tailored solutions in logistics, production and the aftermarket. So the German automotive industry and its logistics specialists have made a decisive contribution to maintaining supplies to people despite the crisis. We will continue this success story and we will continue to offer the best concepts, processes and products. The VDA supports its member companies on this path.”
Prof. Wolfgang Stölzle, Managing Director of the Institute for Supply Chain Management at the University of St. Gallen and chairman of the jury for the VDA Logistics Award, said of the jury’s decision: “The entry process for the VDA Logistics Award 2021 was also very much affected by the exceptional situation: logistics firms from the automotive industry were confronted with interruptions to supplies, huge fluctuations in demand, new hygiene strategies and extended regulations for working from home. In these exceptional times, numerous firms have shown that logistics experts are able to present innovative logistical ideas in their competition entries. The jury applauded the designs from the two Logistics Award winners. Volkswagen has continually developed and refined a crisis management toll for maintaining logistics operations, and BMW has consistently implemented technological innovations designed to assist employees in picking.”
Volkswagen Group Logistics: new global supply chain management tool in times of corona
By awarding the prize to Volkswagen Group Logistics, the jury paid tribute to the “production management tool for handling shutdowns and relaunches within the Volkswagen Group.” It was developed and implemented by the Group Logistics network clusters for supply chain crisis management during the COVID-19 shutdown.
The lockdowns at various stages around the world in response to the spread of coronavirus presented Volkswagen AG with a logistical challenge that was novel in terms of its size and complexity.
It demanded the coordination of supplies of production materials from approx. 8,000 supplier locations (directly affected by corona-related measures) with approx. 600,000 part numbers. At the same time, production had to be aligned with the greatly reduced demands in the regions, which were also affected by the lockdowns.
This challenge was successfully overcome by developing and deploying a novel tool for crisis management within a global supply chain for the flow of materials and vehicles. But this instrument is far more than an “IT tool.” Instead, it should be seen as an extensive toolkit in the classical sense, comprising both the relevant processes for crisis management and the synchronous high-frequency communication necessary in a system that applies division of labor.
The management tool describes the systematic development and documentation of 25 relevant fields of action in crisis management, which cover the entire supply chain including production management, material logistics and vehicle logistics.
Application of this management tool during the first global wave of corona markedly reduced the business risks and thus made a key contribution to securing liquidity for the Volkswagen Group. The tool has a generic, modular structure, so in the future it will be available immediately in similar global crises.
BMW Group: picking platform as an innovative cloud-based software solution for worldwide production logistics
The BMW Group’s picking platform is innovative cloud-based software for the efficient linkage of various picking solutions in production logistics. It enables work to continue, independent of the hardware and the location, and independent of which data sources or wearables are being used.
The picking platform provides the basis for the worldwide use of innovative pick-by-X systems at the BMW Group. These assistance systems (e.g. pick-by-light or pick-by-tablet) can support the employees ergonomically and bring about clear improvements in processes. The BMW Group digitalization offensive includes work on further innovative picking solutions such as pick-by-vision (with smart glasses). Bundling these systems all together on the new picking platform can considerably reduce the costs of the software and the time involved in the picking process.
Thanks to the picking platform, the process specialists in plant logistics can set up new workplaces and put them into operation without needing additional IT capacity. At the beginning of a shift, the employees log in using a device of their choice – e.g. a smart watch or smart glasses – and can start picking immediately. A member of staff can wear the personal device for the whole shift, even when moving to another workplace.
During the pilot phase, staff at the BMW site in Munich stressed that this free choice of hardware was a great advantage. For example, workers with back problems liked the smart glasses that helped them avoid twisting to see a screen. Others preferred a display on the lower arm so that they did not have devices in their field of vision. Furthermore, the pickers can adjust the display on the devices – e.g. texts, icons and font sizes – to make the software as ergonomic as possible. Direct error messages aid rapid correction and enhance process stability.