Interview with Detlef Kurzbuch, Head of Logistics Development & Strategy at Schenker Deutschland AG

Automotive: It depends on the processes

For the world premiere of the new Sprinter, Daimler chose as a stage the newly built logistics center in the Ruhrort harbor. On this occasion, 250 journalists traveled to Duisburg to the new halls of DB Schenker. From duisport, DB Schenker will consolidate, package and ship parts and vehicle components for the worldwide production network of the Mercedes-Benz Vans business unit.

Prior to the event, logistik aktuell met with Detlef Kurzbuch, Head of Logistics Development & Strategy at Schenker Deutschland AG, to ask him a few questions about the importance of automotive logistics at DB Schenker.

logistik aktuell: DB Schenker is one of the top logistics service providers for OEMs and automotive suppliers worldwide. What are some of the typical tasks and demands of this industry?

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Detlef Kurzbuch: The industry is characterized through and through by a globalization of the production and supply markets. Vehicles are assembled in China, South America or the USA, from parts that come from Europe and suppliers around the world. This means we are always dealing with international, intermodal transport. In addition, there has been in an increasing number of new models issued yearly by all manufacturers in recent years. Behind this is the massive trend in raising the number of model derivatives and outfitting vehicles according to specific customer requests. This variety is simply part of brand identity for large OEMs today. And every vehicle ramp-up worldwide requires its own complex delivery flow of parts supplies.

But that’s not all. The complexity of these logistics processes is coupled with the industry’s especially high quality demands. There is probably no other industry where the objective of zero defects is pursued with such rigor like it is in automobile manufacture. This quality standard extends to all partners involved in the process, without exception. And logistics, with its numerous interfaces along the supply chain, has a very special responsibility in this respect.

An example of a challenge typical to this industry is our activity in our new logistics center in Duisport. This is where we consolidate, package, and ship parts and vehicle components for the global production network of Mercedes-Benz vans.

Detlef Kurzbuch, Head of Logistics Development & Strategy at Schenker Deutschland AG

„The robustness and flexibility of the supply chain, necessary for the quality and efficiency which the automotive industry demands, is achieved only with profound industry knowledge and experience.“

logistik aktuell: What prerequisites must a logistics company bring in order to meet such an assignment?

Detlef Kurzbuch: Being responsible for implementing such supply streams requires a certain size and a global network in transportation by rail and road transport, as well as air and sea cargo. Resources and experience in contract logistics and supply chain management are also needed. But size, technical configurations, and bandwidth alone are not enough. The robustness and flexibility of the supply chain, necessary for the quality and efficiency which the automotive industry demands, is achieved only with profound industry knowledge and experience.

We have been working with automobile industry OEMs on a global scale for decades. We know what is important, and our expertise, in cooperation with customers and all other involved parties, leads to processes that are proven, secure and reproducible.

“Consolidation, packaging, shipping – DB #Schenker organizes worldwide #automotive #logistics at #Duisport“

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Detlef Kurzbuch: DB Schenker is continually developing itself and looking to trends and influence factors which will significantly affect logistics in the future. Research and development, innovation, and digitization are at the top of the list. But willingness and initiative to take up and reconsider existing and established solutions for the auto industry are also part of it. Cooperative development with OEMs has taken on increasing importance. Instead of just announcements to wait and react passively, we at DB Schenker have the unique competence and size for developing new solutions in joint teams with OEMs.

To name two current examples, the joint development with the OEM of a new, semi-automated pre-packaging center for replacement parts, and an already running, large-scale pilot project in parts planning for a premium OEM in Germany. For the latter, DB Schenker arranges for over 25,000 parts numbers daily and assumes responsibility for the supply chain, from the reordering of parts from suppliers all the way to the OEM’s production line.