Automotive logistics: how to avoid downtime through careful supply chain planning

Sound supply chain management is the foundation of every production. The automotive sector is a particularly efficient sector worldwide, as the efficiency enables manufacturers to produce high volumes on a daily basis. Suppliers to the automotive industry face major challenges for their supply chain management and need strong logistics partners. Jens Schmelzer, Global Key Account Manager Germany, knows what it takes for automotive suppliers to optimally implement their supply chains in automotive production.

In order to ensure that automotive production runs as efficiently as possible, it is necessary to supply parts to the production line just-in-time as well as just-in-sequence. After all, automobile manufacturers rely completely on their suppliers to deliver parts and usually do not maintain their own warehouses for replenishment. Consequently, suppliers need efficient production and logistics in their supply chain management in order to meet the extremely high demands on delivery processes. If parts are not delivered at exactly the right time, production must be stopped in the worst case. An assembly line stop for manufacturers costs between 3,000 and 12,000 Euros - per minute.

"The goal is not just to monitor the status of the supply chain. Rather, weaknesses must be identified early on and resolved in partnership to avoid production stoppages."

Jens Schmelzer, Global Key Account Manager Germany


Therefore, well-organized supply chain management is essential for suppliers. A coordinated flow of production and material can be achieved through particularly close cooperation between suppliers and customers.

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Supply chains in the automotive sector work according to the supermarket principle

As a logistics company, Röhlig is involved in production planning and, for example, picks up parts from third-party suppliers and other production sites for customers in order to supply them just-in-time for production. In turn, Röhlig supplies the finished parts to the automobile manufacturers or the supplier plant. This can be described as a supermarket: there are suppliers in the immediate vicinity of the production site and automakers can pick the parts needed for production in the supplier’s warehouses just as in a supermarket. Those parts are immediately available.

Costs usually come first for customers in the automotive sector. But there are other prerequisites for an efficient supply chain:

  • Delivery reliability, in which the desired date of the customer is fulfilled
  • High in-time delivery frequency
  • Proactive communication
  • Tracking in real time
  • "Zero Damage"
  • Cost optimization

What reliability means in the supply chain management of the automotive industry

Delivery reliability, high delivery frequency and dependability are extremely important aspects in supply chain management. Because the coordination often is highly complex, detailed agreements are necessary, which are also reflected in large-scale contracts. A strong logistic partner ensures reliable implementation. "In this area we are strong at Röhlig Logistics," says Jens Schmelzer. "After all, reliability comes with the employees who do the actual work. This is one of the most important criteria in the automotive industry. Reliability is synonymous with punctuality, capacity utilization, or the optimization or inventiveness of the implementation. That's all part of it. Rarely customers talk about reliability because it is taken for granted, but it's very important."

"We are often involved in the planning and execution of our clients' processes. Short coordination times allow us to react very quickly."

Jens Schmelzer, Global Key Account Manager Germany

In the multimodal processes of intercontinental supply chains, the quality of logistics becomes apparent ] quickly through the smooth running of truck or rail transport, air freight or sea freight. For the transport of parts for the automotive industry between China and Europe rail transport has been establishing itself for some time now. The rail transport is faster than the sea, but it is more cost efficient than air freight.

Efficient supply chain management requires individual IT interfaces

To manage supply chains, we need IT interfaces that allow subscribers in the supply chain to retrieve and exchange their data. Some customers just want to enter their data into a system that connects them with their logistics partner, so that, for example, the data records can be further processed. For others, it is important that they are linked to their SAP system and place an order by message. For yet other customers, the status of the shipment is important: where is the order, when was it placed, what is the status of the processing and has it been delivered? Many customers need a track-and-trace tool with real-time information.

"Customers have their own requirements for IT interfaces, so we work very closely with our IT specialists. This way we can offer customized solutions."

Jens Schmelzer, Global Key Account Manager Germany

That's what makes Röhlig special

"Röhlig stands for special diligence," says Jens Schmelzer. "Our customers appreciate that. Every day, as a team, we manage to combine the advantages of a smaller, fast-acting logistics company with the efficiency of a large corporation. That makes us strong.

As a family-run medium-sized company, we are open to creative -and sometimes unusual- solutions.

If it makes sense for our customers, we also leave the beaten path to implement our own ideas for efficient supply chain management. It distinguishes us that we have short chains of command. We can pick up the phone and ask colleagues: can you help me? Same goes for superiors. We do not have to go through different instances to get support. Our global network also helps us a lot.

What you can expect from Röhlig for your supply chain management in the automotive sector:

  • With many years of experience, expertise and an eye for innovative ideas, we find the best solution for every logistics project.
  • Customers benefit from short ways within our company for all questions and decisions.
  • Direct decision processes always ensure fast reaction times.


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