In this issue I have talked to industry players in what we sometimes call the ‘first world’ of automotive, Europe and the US, and also to what we once thought of as a developing region - Mexico.
One one hand, the contrasts are stark - in Europe and the US, logistics providers are refining their supply chain with advanced IT, digitalisation, automated scanning of finished vehicles and devising techniques for handling the next
generation of powertrain - EVs and hybrids.
In Mexico, IT is at an earlier stage in the supply chain infrastructure and several players I talked to in the region say that this is the area where they would make, or encourage their colleagues and the OEMs to make, the greatest
On the other hand, the sheer enthusiasm and innovative spirit that I found in Mexico reminds me that while some in the global automotive industry often make the pointed observation that logistics has always lagged behind other segments
of the business in IT ‘awareness’ and implementation, it is the OEM and supplier managers, logisticians and even the assembly line workers and truck drivers that make the difference between making components and systems right first
time, every time, and getting them to the line on time - and Just-In-Time, every time, and avoiding causing the mayhem that occurs when a line has to stop or a dealer or customer has to wait for their vehicles.
For as the technology of vehicles changes, moving ever more rapidly towards hybrids and EVs, and the ownership model of vehicles changes globally from personal purchase to long- and short-term leasing, sharing and even just catching
a ride in an autonomous taxi of one form or another, so the OEM, supplier and logistics industries will inevitably be forced to create more jobs, and these will also be more skilled jobs. For the more users each vehicle has, in
sharing or leasing/rental models, the more management these personal supply chains will require, and it cannot all be automated.
So, the future of the supply chain is healthy and as long as it can progress in tune with its changing customer base, harnesses the power of advanced IT and gets itself in step with the march of digitalisation, the world of automotive
purchasing and supply chain will continue to be a great industry to work in and report on.
Simon Duval Smith