DHL has introduced a three-stage modular process for new vehicle launches that it says covers the entire product launch cycle from prototype to marketing and can reduce to a minimum the supply chain incidents that occur along the way.

At a special DHL Automotive meeting held in Paris, France last week, Fathi Tlatli, DHL’s president, Global Sector Automotive, acknowledged that there was demand for speeding up development and production processes, as well as market entry for new vehicles. This he said had to be achieved through a connected and streamlined process that would benefit the carmaker by addressing the cost and complexity associated with launches.

The first module in the new service supports the preproduction of model developments, such as specialized packaging of prototypes, customs clearance and secure transport. DHL also organises inbound material and in-plant logistics. Finally, in the launch phase it handles communication, including direct mailings, as well as the confidential movement of the exhibition cars for test events and press presentations.

“Product launches in the automotive sector are complex and cost-intensive,” said Tlatli. “The average time from the first sketch of a car to market entry is two to three years and requires a precise synchronization amongst several involved parties, more often not located even on the same continent.”

Logistics providers need to be involved with the carmaker from the start as it promoted cost efficiency. However, logistics is not often represented early enough according to Tlatli.

“The design of delivery up to the dealer should be totally integrated in the supply chain,” he said, adding that even when a logistics provider is involved on a prototype it can be two years before it is consulted again for preproduction, by which time it has lost touch with parts of the process.

With the new service customers can build an individualized service based on independent modules or combine all of them in the service of full vehicle development process ahead of full volume production. In this way they can be practical and proactive, and avoid knee-jerk reactions that can be costly in their over compensation according to Tlatli.

“For the first time we have worked on a solution to integrate the process from prototypes to the marketing of the event,” he said. “We believe we can really improve the supply chain of these launches and do it in a way that is more cost effective if the approach is integrated.”