As new model programs become more complex, logistics experts help make planning easier for carmakers
BMW is incorporating logistics planning into its product development process with the aim of achieving more efficient manufacturing, faster customer delivery and better production startups.
BMW is bringing logistics specialists into the product development teams that make vital decisions in the early stages of the development process that dictate the eventual cost structure of a model.
"The early product development decisions influence matters such as the design and size of modules and the supplier structure," said Rolf Hattler, vice president of logistics planning. "It is very important that we logistics specialists contribute our view on early design decisions and how they affect logistics costs. The logistics angle on a design is a vital component of the evaluation process."
Hattler believes BMW is involving its logistics experts at earlier stages than its competitors.
"We are doing more and more at an early stage," he said. "The logistics functions are involved in planning discussions five years prior to production startup."
The early agenda includes long-term supply concepts, selection of suppliers and where to locate production.
About 30 months before production launch, BMW logistics personnel start detailed discussions with chosen suppliers on issues such as just-in-time supply and sequenced deliveries.
BMW's approach translates into better supplier performance, Hattler said. It is vital for BMW's rapid-launch manufacturing strategy.
"Our target is to take no more than three months from start to full production," he said. "It is a big challenge. Detailed planning is vital for stabilizing processes quickly."