believes that the issues caused by cultural differences are often
underestimated.
You may speak the language but it doesn’t mean that you
understand the culture,” he says. “This is true between Europe and
America but even more between Europe and China, India or
Russia. I had to learn a different culture in America when I had a
company there; it was so different from Europe. You understand
the words, but not always the meaning behind the words.”
Technology, he believes, has a small role to play in
enlightening people, but once again he warns that both parties
have to fully understand what the purpose of the technology is.
Which of us has not heard pleas fromOEMs and/or logistics
service providers for greater transparency in the supply chain? Ewe
believes that if people really want transparency they will get it.
The communications tools are there, but everybody needs to
use them correctly. 150 million data sets are sent around the world
every year, and if only a few of them are wrong it makes the whole
information worthless.”
Ewe does not believe that the automotive industry is getting
the best out of the IT that is available and lays the blame squarely
at the door of the IT departments themselves. “They are not creative
enough. Outbound logistics plays such a small part in the supply
chain and no-one is really interested. They want to have in-house
solutions to protect their jobs, not to make the best of what is
available. The OEMs say that they can do things better than we, the
providers, can. They can, but they don’t. There are so many good IT
products on the market, not only AFG’s but many others. However,
which OEMs use them?”
If one facet of collaboration is the ability to communicate, how
<t for purpose is the current system of communication between the
parties in the supply chain?
No solution is ever good enough, there is always room for
improvement,” says Ewe. “You will never arrive at a standardised
solution between all parties. EDIFACT is the international EDI
standard developed under the United Nations, but everybody uses
it differently. VDA, the German automotive association, has a
standard, but everybody changes the messages.
It would make things easier if there was more standardisation,
but how is it possible? I do not believe that you will <nd all the
OEMs behaving in the same way. Companies are afraid to give
away a competitive edge or company secrets. People say that there
should be one seamless IT web where information could be
exchanged effortlessly among all parties, but nobody wants this.
On the web, everybody can access information. One carmaker
would know information about another, so I think this is why
everyone is being very careful about it.”
Ewe believes that, in a few years’ time, every vehicle should be
equipped with an automatic GPS system so that cars in the supply
chain would be traceable at any point. “It is already available in
expensive cars, but it is, perhaps, too expensive to <t to smaller
vehicles. In the logistics chain every movement of the vehicle would
be automatically documented. For me, that is the future.
The real issue with RFID is whether to have an active system
or a passive system. An active system is the better solution because
an active RFID chip can work and locate a vehicle over a distance of
a kilometre but they cost between 30 and 50 euros each. This is too
expensive. A passive RFID chip only works over a distance of up to
about four metres so you have to use a lot of antennae. It makes
sense at the moment and, perhaps, for a few years, but the big
improvement in the future would be the GPS system.”
a
Bernhard Ewe, Managing Director, AFG
17
th September 2013
Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Conference Centre
Moscow,Russia
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