The auto industry sets high standards for aftermarket logistics, and they are constantly changing. Where do we go from here, and how can DB Schenker stay at the forefront? Answers from the contract logistics expert Stephan Allgeier, Vice President Vertical Market Automotive Global Business Development
“Take action!” As Vice President in DB Schenker’s Vertical Market Automotive, Stephan Allgeier is also responsible for aftermarket logistics. Photo: private
Mr. Allgeier, what is the greatest challenge you and your team currently face?
The most dominant trend in the automotive aftermarket logistics sector is one that currently affects everyone: digitization. One of the key issues is how we can utilize the increasing volumes of data available to us. For example, so as to optimize warehousing strategies. You have spare parts that are classified as fast movers, meaning they are always in high demand and subsequently pass through the warehouse very quickly. At some point, possibly as a result of a measure imposed by the manufacturer, they turn into slow movers. If you undertake a structural evaluation of these trends, it is easier to adapt the assignment of space in a warehouse accordingly.
What role do 3D printers play, which have become somewhat of a perennial issue?
For us as aftermarket logistics providers, it could result in auto dealers, who previously received supplies from us, printing out spare parts themselves. But it could also be that the 3D printer is based at one of our locations. Of course, you can simply sit back and speculate about what is going to happen. Or you can deal with the issue, as we are doing, and become involved in innovative projects. As a result, you are prepared when manufacturers or suppliers make inquiries and can even approach customers with offers. What is particularly important to me is that we should focus on seeing these trends as an opportunity and on positioning ourselves in a timely manner.
E-mobility is another one of these trends. What implications does it have for your work?
I’m absolutely certain that e-mobility will be introduced on a massive scale! Initially, this spells bad news for the aftermarket sector. By definition, electric vehicles don’t have carburetors or cylinder heads and by and large require fewer spare parts than automobiles with a combustion engine. However, I’m convinced that conventional and electric engines will continue to coexist for a long time so the need for spare parts is actually expected to increase in the next ten years. But here, too, the motto should be to take action! We were very quick to develop know-how in battery logistics, a sector that is very complex and quite opaque in terms of regulations.
Where are the fundamental challenges you face?
Apart from the suppliers, in the aftermarket segment our primary customers are the manufacturers. If we exclude the premium segment, spare parts are the most profitable business for manufacturers. Furthermore, the recipients of the spare parts, by which I mean the authorized dealers in particular, exert considerable pressure on the manufacturers. Both aspects underline the importance of the logistics behind this business as well as the quality standards imposed upon them. The industry is governed by a zero defect philosophy. Additionally, our work is affected by the enormous model variety on the part of the manufacturers.
Despite that, how do you ensure that everything runs smoothly?
We as automotive contract logistics experts focus on three key areas. Apart from aftermarket, these are production supply and CKD/SKD – and we can boast acknowledged experts in all three sectors. We are continually working in close partnership with our customers, and as a result, we are very familiar with their requirements. Although we might not have a specialist in every one of our national organizations, there is always someone on hand to provide support when there is a call for tender in a smaller market. That is what distinguishes DB Schenker’s global network! Not forgetting: within the framework of the global excellence program, “Go-for-Performance,” we have made continual improvements to our service at many locations.
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More than 10,000 orders per day: DB Schenker runs spare parts warehouses around the world – on behalf of many major automobile manufacturers and suppliers