Rachael Hogg talks to Michal Peter, managing director of Yusen Logistics (Czech), and Radek Vosta, general manager, production control at TPCA about the two companies’ long-standing partnership

Has the relationship between Yusen and TPCA changed over the years?

Michal Peter Yusen Czech MDMichal Peter (MP): We’ve worked together over ten years. After a decade of cost savings, we have had to completely change our thinking. TPCA comes in with new ideas and eliminates useless processes. We have to make logistics simple to match their processes and make everyone’s life easier. However, the relationship is the same as it was in the beginning. We’re partners, not suppliers. The scope has changed though, and we have to keep up with short notice. 

Radek Vosta TPCARadek Vosta (RV): The European market is very competitive, our goal is to improve our efficiency which also includes cost reduction activities. Kaizen by kaizen we need to improve. Also we have to be more flexible. Yusen will work more closely with us, and we’ll work more closely with Yusen. We know how to produce cars, Yusen know how to do logistics. And it helps that we are in the same building. 

How do you manage increasing complexity?

Michal Peter Yusen Czech MD

MP: This is already implemented during the preparation phase. It’s up to Yusen to work out how to collect the parts from the suppliers. Then it’s up to material control. The concept has worked for years with no big changes. That’s the difference between Toyota and other guys. They manage complexity every hour, but our style of work is flat, with no big fluctuations. 

Radek Vosta TPCA

RV: It’s important to remember we have a pull system: our production is given by the customer. The order goes from customer, through headquarters, to us, then we see the planning process of three months’ worth of orders. Perhaps this production plan has some restrictions internally. But logistics must meet our requirements and be fully flexible. 

How have you improved your logistics?

Radek Vosta TPCARV: We have reduced the price of logistics by a third since SOP [start of operations] in 2005. We have many KPIs and measure our efficiency constantly, in terms of running full-truckload, etc. Speaking about internal logistics, we’ve eliminated most double handling [of parts].

How do you manage the inbound operation?

Michal Peter Yusen Czech MDMP: The main mode is the 100 cubic-metre mega trailer. The trailers are moved from suppliers to the TPCA yard and switched. Around 95% of parts are collected from the region by dedicated routes every day. The routes are split among a few logistics providers: Yusen controls mostly domestic, and TPCA’s other logistics partners do the international logistics. What’s also behind that is a system of European crossdocks: domestic collections, and shipping the main routes to the production plants. 

What technology developments are you looking to bring in?

Michal Peter Yusen Czech MD

MP: The main part of development is our shunt management system, which is improving the internal logistics operation efficiency. We have implemented an RFID system to move about 400 trailers daily inside of TPCA in an efficient way. We’re changing the design of trailers too, to strengthen health and safety during loading and unloading. From an external logistics point of view, we’re implementing CNG [compressed natural gas] trucks. For internal logistics we’re thinking of implementing shunt trucks powered by electricity.

Radek Vosta TPCA

RV: We’re looking to develop our scanning gate. Every box is equipped with a 2D barcode for identification, with its own serial number. We are now able to see abnormalities from suppliers. We’ll use a similar technology in other parts. We already use AGVs in welding, and we are considering expanding their usage. However, there should always be the right balance between manpower and technology. The key factors are return of investment and flexibility. It’s not about top technology, it’s about simple thinking, how to avoid muda – [Japanese for] needless operations.
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