DHL opens parts centre in Brazil
DHL Global Forwarding has opened an automotive parts handling centre in São Paulo, Brazil that will process around 2,000 shipments per month for carmakers, commercial vehicle makers and their tier suppliers in the local market.

According to the company, the Automotive Competence Center will provide value-added logistics solutions, including air and ocean freight, and purchase order management, for clients in the Brazilian automotive industry. The centre will collaborate with DHL’s centres in other regions to streamline the services on offer.

DHL has seven such centres as part of a global network it has established with a focus on developing countries and the company said it aims “to extend the range of services offered to clients in Brazil in order to consolidate and emphasise its role as a leading provider of transportation and logistics”.

The Global Forwarding division has also recently opened a logistics centre in Shenzhen, China, part of wider plans to create a regional shipping hub and distribution centre at the Qianhai Shenzen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone.

The DHL Qianhaiwan Integrated Logistics Centre is being jointly developed with China Merchants Group.

The cooperation zone has been set up to further development of the service industry and promote cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland China.

WWL awards Union Pacific
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics subsidiary Vehicle Services Americas (WWLVSA) has recognised North American rail provider Union Pacific with its 2011 Provider of the Year award.

The award evaluates railroad, truck and short sea companies to determine the best overall logistics excellence provider in the areas of quality, performance and customer service.

Union Pacific also received WWLVSA’s Provider Recognition Award for Rail Services, “a formula-based assessment of transit commitment, actual damage-free delivery and a quarterly survey”.

It is the second year in a row that the rail provider has received both awards.

“I am very proud to be a part of the award-winning automotive team at Union Pacific,” said Linda Brandl, Union Pacific vice president and general manager – Automotive. “Receiving the Provider of the Year Award again from WWL, the primary North American logistics provider for Nissan vehicles, is a great honour for all of the Union Pacific employees who work hard every day to deliver great service. Our goal is to anticipate our customers’ needs and continue to add value.”

Union Pacific serves vehicle assembly plants and connects to West Coast ports and the Port of Houston to accommodate import and export shipments. The railroad operates or accesses more than 40 vehicle distribution centres, covering most major western US cities.

Renault to produce EV batteries in France with LG Chem and CEA
Renault has announced it will begin production of its next generation of lithium-ion batteries for its electric vehicles in 2017 with South Korean battery maker LG Chem, in a move aimed partly at reducing logistics cost. The companies have said they are now ready to enter the preparation phase for industrial production and will work together on setting up a dedicated manufacturing plant in France to make the new-generation batteries.

The latest announcement follows two years of collaboration between Renault and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) on battery development and sustainable mobility more generally.

As part of a three-party Renault-CEA-LG Chem agreement, to be signed in September 2012, LG Chem will work on developing the technology of the new-generation battery and contribute all its industrial expertise in large-scale battery production.

The companies will also work together on the production of the current generation of lithium-ion batteries in France from 2015.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most expensive component in electric vehicles and the  companies will have to work on lowering the cost. The announcement of a date for large-scale production of the latest generation also raises questions about the logistics costs and distribution challenges particular to their movement. These include the impact of the weight on distribution cost and environmental restrictions on battery transport and storage. It also involves logistics issues around the sourcing of production materials and the use of specialised equipment for its handling.

In a statement, Renault suggested that production in France would reduce logistics cost to factories and customers. Batteries are currently shipped from Japan and South Korea. AESC supplies batteries for the Kangoo and Fluence, while LG Chem supplies them for the Twizy and Zoe.

A Renault spokesperson said it was too early to discuss the challenges.

Volvo opens parts hub in Peru
Volvo Group has opened a $17m hub in Peru to handle commercial and aftermarket parts for the company’s Volvo, Mack and UD brands, as well as Volvo Buses and Volvo Penta marine and industrial engines.

The hub, located in the Lurin district, covers 56,500 square-metres, is Volvo Group’s first multi-brand operation in the region.

Peru is Volvo Truck’s second largest market in South America and there are currently around 17,500 trucks being used in the country. Last year the company sold 2,040 trucks there.

“We have a very strong presence in Peru, a strong image and a high level of customer satisfaction,” said Roger Alm, president of Latin American sales for Volvo Group Trucks Sales and Marketing Americas. “We are market leaders in heavy duty trucks and the new investment will help us support the expansion of our business in the country.”

Rolf Smedberg, managing director of Volvo Peru, said the company’s trucks met the requirements of Peruvian carriers in the mining and long-distance freight segments.

The new hub will feature a training center for service technicians and drivers/operators.