Port processors and their OEM customers in the US need to work on better system integration to facilitate capacity improvements in preparation for a return of volumes. They also need to have more regular meetings to assess needs and allocate resources in a more efficient way.
“The better that those systems work back and forth together, whether it is identifying customer units, identifying priority or forecasting planning, that all plays into how better to get our cars out,” said Justin Newell, manager of vehicle logistics at Porsche, at the recent Automotive Logistics Global conference, held in Dearborn, Michigan.
Porsche is expecting substantial growth and reporting strong customer demand but is concerned that it needs to improve on communicating its needs with the port processors to make the most of it.
“At the end of the day there are some things that each OEMs and processors could work together on to improve capacity [and] throughput,” said Newell. “The better the information flow back and forth the better for everyone.”
“Frequent and common dialogue is the key for making this whole thing work,” added Martin Colbeck, responsible for east coast sales and marketing at Auto Warehousing Company. “There has to be a consistent flow of information so that everyone knows exactly what is going on and where.”
Monthly operating reviews between the port processors and their individual customers was one idea mooted during a conference session dedicated to port capacity.
The problem facing better throughput is that manufacturers use different systems that communicate systems in different ways.
“As a processor you have to have a system set up for the Ford input, a separate system for the GM input, and a separate system for the Chrysler input,” said Colbeck, adding that the information from each needed to be filtered through and translated into the processor’s own system.
Steve Rand pointed to a standardization process at the port of Baltimore that was used to talk about best practices.
“No one talks about margin or price but everyone is invited, including OEMs. The carriers are invited and the rail providers, so there is a process set up to have a discussion on best practices.”
He also pointed to the successful implementation of QChat at Baltimore. QChat is a push-to-talk software that provides instant two-way communication between users in different locations.
Gary Love, vice president of New Jersey port processor, FAPS, suggested that principles applied in that QChat forum could be developed through an independent third party to establish a national platform that would allow the industry to come together and share best practices
“Whatever the port of entry processors best practice may be [it could be collected] for redistribution back to the industry so that we can incrementally improve processes,” said Love. “That should translate into cost savings that we can get back to the OEMs.”