The Forum Automotive Logistics 2021 opened today with over 1,000 participants – as a virtual event owing to the coronavirus restrictions. The two-day forum is Europe’s largest meeting for automotive logistics. This is the ninth time the German Logistics Association (BVL) and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) have jointly organized the forum. Another 15 companies are also actively involved as Content Partners.
“The program shows that we are working on the future despite the additional burdens due to coronavirus. Digitization is more important than ever to our member companies: more transparency in the supply chains, stronger connectivity between manufacturers and suppliers, location-independent management of business processes – all these aspects will characterize the future of our industry,” stressed VDA President Hildegard Müller. She also pointed out that the sector was committed to climate protection and was therefore working intensively on reducing the “CO2 footprint in the supply chain.”
BVL Chairman Prof. Thomas Wimmer emphasized, “Many major topics appear to have diminished during the pandemic – but that is not actually the case. Structural challenges for business, the scarcity of resources, national egoism, climate change, the transport transformation and the digital transformation – all of them are still there and more relevant than ever. Now we have to tackle these challenges and exploit the opportunities presented by the crisis.”
The forum’s hosts are Prof. Wimmer and VDA Managing Director Dr. Joachim Damasky. Under the slogan “Tense times for supply chains – regional, sustainable, duty-free?” the event highlights specific approaches for positioning international supply chains ready for the future so they will continue to function reliably and successfully even in the face of technological progress, trade disputes, climate change and pandemics. This includes connectivity and transparency, new planning methods such as using artificial intelligence, alternative powertrains like the fuel cell, and deploying automation and autonomous vehicles in in-house logistics.
The keynote speeches in the opening plenary session will be delivered by Gerd Walker, Head of Production at the Volkswagen Group, and John Sobeck from ZF Friedrichshafen AG. The plenary session will focus on international supply chains caught between trade disputes and the pandemic. Following a keynote presentation on how recovery from the crisis and structural change can be economically successful, there will be a panel discussion with DIW President Prof. Marcel Fratzscher, Andrea Eck, BLG Logistics Group AG & Co.KG, Jürgen Eder, BMW AG, and Dr. Arne Flemming, Robert Bosch GmbH.
The program also contains specialist sessions with examples of best practices and reports on specific experiences. Under the titles “The fuel cell – the future of logistics?” and “Supply chain complexity – connectivity as a compass through the crisis,” experts from Bosch, BMW and Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell will present practical reports from their companies. Each presentation will be followed by questions from the floor. Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 9) will see the presentation of the renowned VDA Logistics Award. The prize is awarded to honor outstanding achievements and innovations in logistical processes at automotive companies and their partners.
The second day of the forum (Feb. 10) will kick off with keynote speeches from Simon Motter, Head of Group Logistics at Volkswagen, and Prof. Wimmer from the BVL, on the significance of new, digital technologies for the successful and sustainable development of the automotive industry. This will be followed by three more specialist sessions with lectures and discussions on “Smart planning and the AI needs-planning process in the transformation of the aftermarket supply chain,” “Automated in-house logistics – in the passing lane toward Industry 4.0” and “The future of data communication.” The forum will finish with a discussion between Simone Menne, member of several supervisory boards and gallery owner, and Christoph Meyer, Head of Research & Events at BVL, on the future prospects for the global economy.