OEMs and logistics providers at today’s Automotive Logistics Europe conference in Bonn recognised that there was a lack of confidence felt in the dealership community fed by poor accuracy forecasts and a lack of visibility in the delivery process. It’s a situation that needs to be remedied through better information and transparency. But OEMs including BMW, Opel and Seat had their own axes to grind, faced as they are by a lack of capacity and limitations on the road and rail infrastructure.
Speaking during a dedicated session on customer and dealer expectations Seat’s distribution projects manager, Agapito Perez Bote, said that OEMs and importers need to improve the distribution process through a closer collaboration with logistics providers to better satisfy dealers and end customers.
Reliable and accurate delivery times were also seen as crucial at BMW and its general manager of Worldwide Distribution, Matthias Wellbrock, noted that the issue was not always about speed but about creating a date in the system and sticking it to it, something he said BMW was working on to improve.
Part of this was ensuring a more efficient delivery process, something that could be addressed by such things as the standardization of vehicle tracking systems and a decrease in the amount of trucking downtime through the optimisation of driver shift patterns.
OEMs also saw that the process involved the need to provide better visibility for the dealer but Seat’s Perez noted the existent difficulties in producing all the necessary information on the same database, a problem exacerbated by the failure of certain providers to share the necessary information. He said a key point in improving the relationship with dealer was being able to guarantee an accurate delivery time but that it will take a longer time to provide the visibility.
There was also the issue of just how effective an OEM could be in a situation where often the manufacturer does not have a direct relationship with a dealer as Tom Jacobson, managing consultant at Ssangyong Motor UK made clear. He pointed out that the relationship could be mediated through a national sales company so that the OEM doesn’t make a local decision on which LSP to appoint.
“Different finance companies, different lead times and the number of free days: all those things are determined locally so it is actually difficult to implement something at a manufacturer level which has the impact on the dealer,” he said.
Speaking from a logistics provider’s perspective UECC’s head of car transport sales, Bjorn Svenningsen, said that the company didn’t we distinguish between the brand, the importer or the dealer because, at the end of the day, if the logistics provider failed to deliver the product to the dealer in the time agreed with the importer of the brand then it became an issue for them anyway.
Asked whether vehicle delivery was often overlooked by the OEM in preference of inbound logistics, Andreas Graffe, logistics director at Opel Vauxhall, acknowledged that the process began with inbound but said that it was a case of looking at the entire supply chain and assessing what could be done internally.
He added that delivery liability, when it came to outbound, was about an integrated approach to optimise processes as way of meeting final customer expectations.
OEMs have their own issues to tackle in the current lack of capacity for outbound movements. BMW’s Wellbrock said that the company was expecting a general increase in market volume and in the average transport distances from new facilities. He acknowledged that BMW was expecting restrained capacity investment due to a lack of confidence in the industry in Europe and that increased waiting time were likely. But he added that now was the time to decide on capacity investments and, in the case of rail, decisions would have to be finalized if longer lead times were not become a problem for the industry.
Read the full report from the Automotive Logistics Europe conference from Friday here www.automotivelogisticseurope.com