BEDFORD, England - The logistics industry - which includes companies that coordinate the delivery of parts to vehicle assembly plants - is likely to undergo the same wave of mergers that has swept the rest of the auto industry.
As automakers expand production in eastern Europe, India, China and South America, their suppliers will have to transport large volumes of parts to these locations.
One industry executive predicts that mergers and alliances will create a group of global logistics giants.
'Large logistics operators will need to respond ... by forming alliances with other operators,' said Leigh Pomlett, managing director of Exel Logistics. 'The consolidation of logistics companies will mean the number of big players will probably reduce to about a dozen.'
Pomlett believes automakers will ask the logistics industry to coordinate production of some parts modules, too.
Exel already is doing so at a supplier park that it runs near the Seat assembly plant at Martorell, Spain. Martorell is widely regarded as the European benchmark for cooperation between automakers and suppliers.
Exel runs the industrial park's information technology network. It handles 35 different component assemblies, carries out basic assembly of components, and packages knockdown kits for South Africa, Argentina and Poland.
Martorell produces seven Seat and VW models. Seat says the arrangement with Exel has cut logistics costs by 25 percent.