The growing complexity and pressures of the global automotive industry have been demonstrated during the latest seasonal shutdowns. Emergency logistics expert Evolution Time Critical has devised and delivered a challenging solution for a major Tier 1 supplier: providing a round-trip logistics operation that has allowed essential tooling engineering work to be carried out in a tight timeframe. The project enabled a European-based supplier to make essential manufacturing adjustments that ensure vehicles are compliant with US safety guidelines. In the time available, traditional freight could have jeopardised ongoing production through the inability to offer an operational safety buffer, but emergency logistics expertise was able to optimise logistical efficiency and provide in-built contingency.
“The automotive industry operates a high pressure global network, and the requirement for this shipment highlights the increasing strain that is felt by suppliers operating within a globalised industry – timescales are contracting and downtime is becoming more constricted, which drives the need for an evolution of innovative solutions,” says Evolution Time Critical managing director, Brad Brennan. “In this instance, it was vital that tooling was up and running in time for a New Year production restart. This offered a number of physical and timescale challenges that traditional logistics could simply not overcome.”
Evolution Time Critical met with its Tier 1 customer to discuss options for the most suitable resolution and devise a detailed project plan from inception to delivery. Considerations include critical aspects such as European logistics routes, timescales and challenging factors including post-shutdown equipment preparation. “To ensure a harmonious, robust process, Evolution Time Critical liaises with all parties involved – such as the shipper, consignee, airports and all relevant authorities – arranges relevant paperwork, permits and maintains customer contact throughout,” explains Brennan. “To further compound the challenge, the tool had been operating at 130 degrees Celsius prior to shutdown, which means that extensive cooldown time also had to be factored into calculations.
“We devised a range of solutions that we discussed in detail with our customer and, ultimately, delivered a door-to-door service in just 8 hours. This not only provided sufficient time for set-up and tooling reworking, but put in place a safety net schedule should extended engineering work be required. With European market production running until the shutdown and continuing alongside production for the US post-tooling update and reinstallation, there was no room for error – with limited European safety stock held by the supplier, delays could have resulted in costly downtime of production lines in both Europe and the US.”
In 2015 Evolution Time Critical completed a pioneering shipment of over 300-tonnes of tooling from China for a European-based vehicle manufacturer. The successful delivery of such a large scale air shipment, which utilised two of the world’s largest cargo planes, the Antonov An-124, alongside a Boeing 747F, led to the demand of repeat, smaller scale operations from vehicle manufacturers.
“2016 could be one of the busiest years globally for the automotive industry, and with time contraction placing increased pressure on suppliers we believe this latest shipment is a timely proof of the value of moving tooling by air in restricted timeframes,” concludes Brennan.