hilmar-dunker-2014

Hilmar Dunker is editor in chief of automotiveIT, Germany

The manufacturing industry, including the world's automakers and suppliers, has been putting in a lot of effort to improve production processes through the introduction of new, connected, technologies. "Industry 4.0," which involves the networking of machinery and processes, is on track in many companies.

But logistics, arguably as important as the actual manufacturing of products, appears to be a somewhat neglected area. "Connectivity between transport, delivery and supplier is lacking," says Heiko Breier, a logistics expert at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "So far, these units are traditionally all operating independently."

That's unfortunate. As Breier points out, all participants in the process could benefit from an integrated approach to information sharing.

Logistics make up roughly 8 percent of total costs in the automotive value chain, according to research by Technical University Berlin. As much as 20 percent of these costs could be saved through improved connectivity in the logistics operations of global supplier networks. That's real money.

It's clear that there's an obvious benefit to addressing this promptly. Auto manufacturers need to connect their processes. If they don't move now, they will likely be forced to do so in the near future by growing pressure from model proliferation, shorter delivery times and high swings in demand.

By Hilmar Dunker