Auto industry demand for emergency logistics expertise spikes in face of extended Calais port disruption

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Delays caused by industrial action in Calais are inspiring increased demand for emergency logistics expertise, as vehicle manufacturers seek effective supply chain contingency in the wake of another spell of disruption around the French port. The impact and extent of the ongoing disturbances has led emergency logistics specialist Evolution Time Critical to devise an agile, bespoke solution that enables sustained vehicle production while scheduled component deliveries experience setbacks.

“The protracted period of disruptions now seems to be peaking, as industrial action combines with what has been described by service operators as ‘increased migrant activity’: it’s a perfect storm of disruptive influences that creates logistical nightmares for OEMs,” says Evolution Time Critical managing director, Brad Brennan. “As the issues associated with port delays have evolved over the last month, Evolution Time Critical has worked with a number of major vehicle manufacturers to devise a logistics strategy that is able to provide a robust solution as a response to extended delays.

“In the first instance, we analysed our OEM customer’s supplier network, positioned a private chartered aircraft into a central location in Europe, liaised with several of its suppliers across the continent, and collected the necessary parts for direct road transfer to our aircraft, which was then flown in to the OEM production location to enable ongoing assembly,” he explains. “The success of this delivery has already inspired similar, repeat operations. Other resolutions have included cross-border airfreight movements, where we have trucked components across Europe in order to connect with suitable onward flights with sufficient capacity to bypass port-based troubles and delays.

Air charter enquiries to Evolution Time Critical spiked early on in the prolonged disruption, as vehicle manufacturers investigated the possible extent of delays before working to implement the most effective resolution. As Brennan explains: “OEMs prefer to know the extent of potential delays before committing to a contingency plan: the benefit of working hard to plug a supply chain gap is quickly undermined when that gap later emerges as being just one of many. You can put up an umbrella in a rainstorm, but in a flood you will still get wet feet.”

As contingency action has continued to evolve in the last month, supply chain visibility of vehicle manufacturers has proven crucial for the development of the most effective resolution.

“The ability to understand the knock-on effects throughout a supply chain of delivery delays is a vital part of enabling ongoing production,” explains Brennan. “OEMs and their suppliers can work with Evolution Time Critical to establish which parts are caught where, which are fine to remain on their original journey and which need to be prioritised for interception or replacement by ultra-time sensitive deliveries. In some instances, production focus can be altered temporarily to allow time for a manufacturer to pull parts from buffer stocks or fly in from alternative sources.”

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