VDA and BVL’s Automotive Logistics Forum in Frankfurt am Main
“Automotive logistics plays in the Champions League of logistics. Logistics providers control material flows perfectly to ensure that production can run smoothly all around the globe,” saidMatthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the Automotive Logistics Forum in Frankfurt am Main. Wissmann continued, “Taken globally, the automotive year 2013 turned in welcome results. Despite the weak European market, we produced a good 5.4 million passenger cars in Germany, and our manufacturers built another 8.7 million cars at plants abroad. The logistics sector is a significant part of this success.” The VDA president also emphasised, “Germany is an exporting country and therefore also a logistics country. Logistics is one of the large, important branches of business in our country. Its 2.8 million employees generate an annual 225 billion euro in sales – and the figure is rising.”
Automotive logistics faces new challenges every day, Wissmann explained. However, the main focus was shifting. “Up to now there has been a lot of discussion of the emergency back-up role of logistics providers,” he explained, adding, “They had to come up with solutions to all conceivable problems – from volcanic dust to strikes. In the future, the logistical service providers will find themselves increasingly in the role of the helmsman, because we are at the threshold of a new Industrial Revolution – the fourth one, also known as Industry 4.0.” In future information technology will be combined with real development, assembly and logistics processes. Software components will be integrated into industrial products. The resulting “intelligent” products will themselves tell their users how they should be processed and where they should be sent. Wissmann stressed: “This will turn products into sources of information. The automotive industry is one of the pacemakers in this development.”
In his speech Wissmann also described the tasks of the logistics providers at sites outside Germany: “Last year 16.3 million cars were sold in China, which was 23 per cent up on the year before. The German manufacturers take over 20 per cent of the Chinese market. For this reason, our companies must adapt more to the local conditions – which are not easy for us. In the field of logistics in particular, standards of the kind familiar in Europe are still absent in China at present.”
The VDA president also underlined the importance of accessible markets to the export-oriented German automotive industry: “Three out of four cars built in Germany are exported. This is another reason why we are concerned about the increasing protectionist measures being taken in numerous countries.” A recent study by the European Commission listed around 150 new trade barriers, Wissmann said, which were introduced in 2012. Only 18 existing measures were abolished. Since the records began in 2008, almost 700 new measures have been identified. New import duties and barriers affected the automotive industry most of all. “We are working intensively towards fair market access. This includes the elimination of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers,” Wissmann underscored.
Wissmann welcomed the preparations made in the German Government’s Coalition Agreement for more investment in the infrastructure. The new Government had recognised the need for additional funding in order to restore the infrastructure. Wissmann stressed, “It is a good thing that the Grand Coalition is investing in all another 5 billion euro in the transport infrastructure in this parliamentary session. That is an important step – even if the actual amount required is more than three times as much.” However, Wissmann warned against imposing too great a burden on the German transport sector. Extending the truck toll would largely affect German logistical companies most of all. The VDA president underlined, “Mobility and transport must remain affordable both to businesses and to consumers.”