“With a growing number of customers and an increasingly complex supply chain processes, VDL needed to replace their legacy system with a modern and flexible IT landscape to support our clear Industry 4.0 vision to drive efficiencies and be ready for the future”.
These were the words of Mr. Pepijn Timmermans, VP Digitalization at VDL Nedcar, who I recently had the chance to speak to about how the company modernized and digitalized their yard operations.
Who Is VDL Nedcar?
VDL Nedcar is not only the only independent contract manufacturer in the Netherlands but is also one of the most advanced vehicle manufacturers in Europe. The 50-year-old company builds high-quality cars for major brands such as BMW, as well as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant of the MINI Countryman. And as a company that banks on strong partnerships and innovation, VDL will also build electric vehicles for their newest customer, the US company Canoo.
How to Manage a Yard Full of Moving Products
VDL Nedcar faced the challenge of managing the movement of vehicles, parts, and materials as Mr. Timmermans explained, “We have 1,000 parts suppliers, 12,000 parts numbers and 7 carriers who bring all these parts by truck to our plant which results in an inbound of 270 full trucks per day coming in and going out”.
He added “The automotive industry has a closed-loop where packaging material is brought back to the supplier. This means transport can arrive at any moment and within only one hour the driver drops a trailer, picks up another with packaging materials, and leaves the yard. We have to manage 350 trailers in our yard, basically, it’s a warehouse management system for trailers”.
The process to do this was very manual. When a carrier came in, he picked an empty spot in the yard, filled papers, and took them to the office where the information was put into the system. This was a very labor-intensive and error-prone process, and as Mr. Timmermans explained, “If we missed only one trailer the impact could be dramatic and costly”. A missed trailer of a vital part could harm the production processes and even lead to major stoppages of the plant for a full day, which relies on a JIT approach.
The Answer? Warehouses On Wheels
The answer was to analyze and business processes. As Mr. Timmermans explained, “we have a very