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A car consists of several thousand parts. This alone is a challenge for the manufacturers, but also for the logistics specialists. The automotive industry is considered to be very demanding in this respect. The high level of complexity of production means that speed and accuracy of tasks are particularly important. The logistics services in this area are mainly focused on supplying factories and service workshops. Often, in the case of production lines, this is done according to the just in time principle, which can be an additional difficulty.

Logistics and transport for the automotive industry are governed by their own laws. The sign of the times is that a large number of variants of a given model are produced, whose thousands of components can come from various branches of the economy: mechanical, chemical or electrical industry. It is also a challenge for logistics services to put them all together according to a precise schedule. In order for the cooperation between the logistics operator/carrier and producer to be successful, it is necessary, first of all, to have a full exchange of information between both parties.

Only this facilitates the following:

– effective design of the entire process,

– appropriate location of storage and buffer zones,

– the timeliness of the execution of tasks,

– ensuring adequate protection of goods (both in storage and transport),

– acting in accordance with current legal regulations (environmental protection, fire safety regulations).

These supposedly obvious truths are particularly important in transport and logistics for the automotive sector.

Transport and logistics for the automotive sector require close cooperation between the carrier, shipper and logistics operator

On the market, there are many companies with many years of experience in servicing customers in this industry (e.g. Fiege, Gefco, Imperial Logistics). When it comes to the supply of components, it is essential to understand the just in time principle. This is the principle behind the organisation of work on production lines. Just in time means delivering components exactly at the time they are needed. Cooperation must be based primarily on the synchronisation of communication and action between the producer, supplier and logistics operator. Both in short- and long-term perspective.

Just in time does not tolerate any delays, because they can cause the production line to stop, which means loss. In order to avoid such problems, a backup solution should be designed for each analysis of warehouse and transport processes, so that in the event of unforeseen events, a contingency plan can be implemented quickly. Telematics is also particularly important, as it makes it easier to keep track of where the goods are as part of just in time deliveries.  

In recent years, the automotive industry has also developed (requiring even more precise deliveries) a system meeting the specific needs of the assembly line production, just in sequence (exactly for the sequence of the production line).

WMS analyses the level of rotation

The digitalisation of the process makes it possible to shorten the response time to the customer’s order and thus deliver the goods on time. This is, in fact, the basis for a truly structured logistics offers for this sector.

Deliveries for the automotive industry usually require the use of an extensive WMS system, which, among other things, determines the categories of goods, with the principles of packaging. Additionally, within this category, the system determines the rotation levels of specific SKUs and allocates storage zones for them accordingly.

When designing storage space for automotive products, it is not only about the analysis of the size and value of the stored goods, but mainly about the analysis of rotation. Small-sized goods should be located in separate shelf storage areas. If the goods are valuable, such zones should be additionally equipped with access control systems. If a product is additionally classified as hazardous material (e.g. airbags, seatbelt pretensioners), it is necessary to separate another zone according to fire protection requirements.

The quality control process is subordinate to the work of the production line. This control is strictly formalised and defined by clear procedures.

An important element of logistics service is the distribution of finished products to end customers. The most important thing is the safety of the product (protection against damage in transport, theft and external factors).

Although the delivery time is important, it is of secondary significance in relation to the proper securing of the goods. Due to the specificity of the product, deliveries must be made by dedicated transport, which increases costs but provides a maximum level of protection.

EDI accelerates document flow

The sign of the times is the use of electronic trade data transmission and other EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) documents, which is becoming increasingly common also in the automotive industry. It is about transferring data from a computer program or database of one organisation to a computer program or database of another organisation.

This speeds up the flow of documents and facilitates the exchange of up-to-date information. In the case of just in time and just in sequence systems, this is of particular importance. Everything, generally speaking, is based on the principles of e-mail operation, independent of the parameters of the hardware and software used. The elements of electronic data exchange are: electronic invoice, control of accounting documentation flow, management of supply networks, etc. Electronic signatures are also becoming more and more common.

To what extent do these solutions work in automotive logistics? The last EDI implementation carried out by Adampol concerned e.g. a well-known company producing electric vehicles. The basic functionality of the solution was the interface of cargo orders and messages confirming loading and unloading operations. It was necessary to create a completely new communication protocol, which was quite a challenge for the IT department.

Another small difficulty was that communication is not one-sided or two-sided, but three-sided (Customer, Port and We). The whole thing had to be prepared in a very short time, compliant with the three systems and based not on the standard procedure of exchanging files with messages, but on the technology of exchanging information based on the http protocol – Webservice. In addition to the completely new connection for us, the customer was at the stage of launching his internal system, which was only just coming out of the testing phase. There were some obstacles, however, the implementation eventually proved to be successful,” explained Maciej Mazur from Adampol in the ‘TOP Logistyka’ magazine.

Shippers check the carriers

The shippers have specific requirements for carriers and logistics operators. They appreciate certificates. Many carriers working for the automotive industry admit that before signing a contract, shippers ask about the type of certificates they hold.

Many documents evaluating the reliability of carriers focus on the security of the entire supply chain, including final subcontractors, which may not be known to the shipper. Examples of certificates we deal with in the automotive sector are ISO 28000 (Security Management System for the Supply Chain) covering supply chain security, as well as TCC Elite (Trans.eu Certified), similar in scope to the previous one. TAPA TSR (Trucking Security Requirements) is useful in the automotive industry.

In order to obtain them, you have to undergo an audit or a procedure that checks whether the company meets the requirements and standards of certification. Generally speaking, it is a question of checking the documentation and procedures under which a carrier operates.

Sometimes, in the case of certain certificates, this concerns very detailed solutions, e.g. the use of telematics.

Today, despite the enormous potential of domestic transport companies, only half of them have telematic systems, i.e. systems for monitoring the fleet in real time. That is why trucks belonging to companies certified by us must be equipped with GPS systems,” explained Katarzyna Mazurkiewicz-Bylok, senior auditor of Trans 28000, who runs the TCC Elite certification programme, in an interview for Trans.INFO.  

In the next part, you can read about storage systems, means of transport and other tools used in logistics and transport for the automotive industry.

Photo: Bartosz Wawryszuk

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