Forum Automotive Logistics: virtual, but exciting as always

It is always impressive to have all the themes of automotive logistics laid out compactly in a single event. The Forum Automotive Logistics does that every time. It’s just amazing what logistics is all about. Corona and the pandemic can’t change that. Production, factory supply, procurement processes, climate-friendly drives, highly efficient intralogistics with autonomous vehicles, drones for inventory, artificial intelligence and so on. The forum on February 9 and 10, 2021 once again focused on the complexity of the field. This time “only” online with lectures on the laptop in the home office. But versatile and informative. Once again the forum showed what logistics and industry are capable of, if you let them do it and if the framework conditions are right.

The complex field of logistics

As always, the organizers were the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL) and the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). “Many big issues seem less important in light of the pandemic – but they are not,” emphasized BVL CEO Thomas Wimmer. “Structural challenges in the economy, scarcity of resources, national egoisms, climate change, traffic turnaround, digital transformation – they are all still there and more relevant than ever.” So it is not surprising that Corona was a marginal topic in many of the lectures. Because the automotive industry and the logistics sector have always been upgrading, thinking new concepts and planning the future. Viruses can be disruptive factors and require new solutions. But the driving forces for decades of continuous improvement processes derive from other motives.

Away from global markets?

Can or should one effectively counter the economic consequences of a pandemic through localization measures? Perhaps it is due to the quasi-natural cosmopolitanism and far-sightedness of logistics specialists that they do not obstruct their broad horizons with hasty patent remedies. Voices were heard several times that attached a big question mark to the idea of regionalizing procurement and sales. “We have to remain smart and resilient globally,” said Simone Menne. The board member of companies such as BMW, Johnson Controls and Deutsche Post DHL expressed what many forum participants felt. Simon Motter, Head of Volkswagen Group Logistics, also emphasized with a view to production interruptions: “A stronger regionalization would not have been of any use to us.” On the contrary. “Globalization helps to master global problems well.”

“At the Forum Automotive Logistics #fal21 , #Logistics once again shows its most innovative side.“

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Logistics Award for Volkswagen and BMW

As part of the forum, the VDA presented Volkswagen Group Logistics and the BMW Group with the Logistics Award 2021. This is the “Oscar” of the logistics industry, as VDA President Hildegard Müller calls it. The Wolfsburg-based company received the award for an innovative management tool. It ensures the factory supply in the event of shutdowns and relaunches. One specific case involved material from 8,000 suppliers who were directly affected by Corona measures. The BMW Group accepted the award for a cloud-based software. It links various picking concepts in production logistics – such as pick-by-light or pick-by-tablet. Thanks to this picking platform, plant logistics can independently set up and commission new workplaces without additional IT capacities.

There is much to do …

Europe’s largest industry get-together also made it clear in its ninth meeting: Solutions, approaches and perspectives for efficient, sustainable and successful automotive logistics are available in sufficient numbers in the long term. Thomas Wimmer says: “It is now a matter of accepting these challenges and using the opportunities of the crisis.” – Despite Corona!

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