Driven by changes in the way that vehicles are designed and manufactured, the value of sales at leading high-speed logistics specialist Evolution Time Critical have grown by 18% in the last year and has almost doubled in three years. Rapid developments in programme compression, global sourcing and flexible footprint planning are amongst the trends that have helped much of the automotive industry transform its profitability, but which Evolution says can only be implemented securely with the support of a new-generation of highly-responsive logistics partner.
“Our success shows how important it is to really understand your customers,” says Evolution Time Critical managing director Brad Brennan. “Our close relationships with vehicle manufacturers and their first tier suppliers have allowed us to identify not just their logistics pain points – the traditional emergency logistics business in which Evolution made its reputation – but also the support needed to enable a wide range of new areas for business improvement. By evolving our business to provide these next-generation solutions, our capability has become increasingly important to many of the world’s leading automotive businesses.”
Automotive industry trends identified by the company include: more models per manufacturer with more regular specification changes; contracting development timescales with shorter launch windows; increasingly global manufacturing of vehicles, parts and tooling; live relocation of parts manufacturing without interrupting deliveries; global single sourcing; ongoing stock reduction throughout the supply chain eliminating buffers; and the introduction of third shifts to facilitate 24/5 or 24/7 manufacturing, eliminating time previously used to resolve issues.
An example is a recent project that allowed a European premium car maker to meet its production deadlines even after last-minute design changes had delayed the production of heavy press tooling that was being created on the other side of the world. “This would traditionally have simply compressed the final phase of prototype validation, but as this was a new-generation programme going straight from screen to production specification, there was no intermediate stage to compress,” explains Brennan. “The only solution was to take time out of the tooling transit by creating a tightly-timed sequence of consignments that required some of the world’s largest aircraft in a multi-million pound operation.”
Evolution says its traditional business of solving time-critical logistics problems is also growing rapidly. “As efficiency has increased, so the time that was invaluable for logistics problem solving has been largely eliminated,” explains Brennan. “Our clients find they can squeeze efficiency harder if they are confident that a solution to any exceptions can be found quickly. With production lines now producing multiple models often for global markets, even a very short delay in component delivery can be extremely costly and may also have an impact on customer satisfaction.”
Brennan is clear that the company’s success would not have been possible without prudent management that ensures exceptional robustness as a business. “Evolution’s professional expertise is complemented by a strong commercial reputation amongst the hundreds of transport suppliers and local specialists on whom these often complex operations depend,” he says. “We are also finding that the time available for operations such as vehicle production ramp-ups is increasingly compressed by previous phases of the vehicle programme, requiring intensive activity over longer periods to ensure that the targets are met.”
Success has enabled ongoing investment in the business, including strengthening the company’s UK and German control centres, establishing deeper supplier partnerships in developing regions and introducing additional IT systems that will ensure continued, rigorous management of complex projects as the business grows.
“We are passionate about the automotive industry so it’s exciting to be able to help our customers benefit from these significant trends,” concludes Brennan. “Evolution has a strong future ahead, building on our growing strength and reputation for understanding how to reduce supply risk to enable further improvement across a fascinating range of activities, from design to launch as well as manufacturing. We are looking forward to another great year.”