Driving Supply Chain Resilience: Key Takeaways from Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Global

Driving Supply Chain Resilience: Key Takeaways from Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Global

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During my panel discussion at last week’s Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Global, fellow industry experts and I discussed how automotive manufacturers work with logistics service providers (LSPs) to maintain stable supply flows while ensuring high efficiency and on-time delivery.

Lean efficiency, also known as “lean manufacturing,” aims to minimize waste while maximizing value, bringing undeniable cost savings within the automotive industry. However, its streamlined, redundancy-reducing approach can leave lean supply chains vulnerable to unexpected disruptions, with limited room for backup plans or alternative resources.

Resilience strategies, conversely, involve maintaining redundancy to ensure operations can continue even in the face of unexpected challenges. These strategies incorporate extra capacity or resources to anticipate supply chain disruptions and maintain essential functions, which can conflict with lean efficiency’s minimalist approach.

At Ascent, we often find ourselves at the intersection of “lean efficiency” and “resiliency.” Our role as a time-critical logistics provider means we are our customers’ last line of defense. We understand there’s a trade-off between remaining lean and being flexible enough to execute when needed. For instance, in our approach to awarding cost-competitive freight mode options, we prioritize both lean efficiency and preventing plant downtime, regardless of the cost. This balance is achieved through technology, a dedicated team of experts and, most importantly, partnership with our customers

Here are some of the key insights that I took away from this panel discussion regarding the best strategies for balancing lean efficiency and resiliency:

1. Flexibility needs to be a priority

One core message stood out: flexibility is a game-changer in the fast-paced world of automotive logistics. When it comes to success in this industry, having a well-oiled automotive supply chain that can handle unexpected curveballs is absolutely crucial. Flexible logistics not only helps a company stay competitive but also ensures customer satisfaction.

It’s all about being sharp and proactive, addressing issues before they become major problems. That means having the ability to reroute shipments and find alternative sources right when needed, which can prevent potential headaches down the road.

In today’s world, technology takes the spotlight when it comes to maintaining flexibility. Real-time visibility tools, like Ascent’s PEAK™ technology, have become indispensable. Our technology enables our team and customers to spot and resolve issues before they become disruptive, ensuring that transportation runs smoothly.

2. Collaboration is key

In order to build a supply chain that’s both efficient and resilient, there’s one undeniable truth – communication between logistics providers and customers is essential. The foundation of an effective partnership involves active listening, digging deep to understand needs and finding the optimal execution level to keep cargo moving smoothly.

True collaboration means we’re always ready to provide our customers with the best solutions when hurdles arise. It’s all about working together and keeping those lines of communication wide open to find an optimized path forward for every unique need.

As a team focused on time-critical services, our mission is clear: real-time risk management. Ascent is in the trenches with our customers, having ongoing conversations and at times, taking calculated risks. We take pride that our assets, including our airline, USA Jet, and our dedicated ground expedite fleet, cover our customers when capacity is otherwise unavailable. Our robust carrier network also offers protection and a wide range of options to meet specific service level requirements.

We strategically deploy our assets to safeguard lead times and minimize any disruptions our customers might face. It’s a balancing act that relies heavily on collaboration, expertise and the right technology. When it comes to technology, data is the name of the game. Sharing data upstream and mapping out logistics processes in detail can supercharge the efficiency and effectiveness of supply chains.

3. Localization and nearshoring are bringing change to logistics

The automotive industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the growing localization trend within North America. Manufacturers have come to appreciate the advantages of being closer to their customer base, especially in Mexico, which has led to a surging demand for agile logistics solutions in the region. We predict that this shift we’re witnessing isn’t just a temporary trend; it’s leading to a considerable change in how automotive supply chains will operate now and in the future.

Recognizing the importance of being in the heart of the action, our team at Ascent has made a steadfast commitment to continue to establish an even stronger presence where nearshoring is booming. With over 13 years of operations in Mexico, we are well-prepared to support the increasing cross-border activities anticipated in the coming years.

Our approach involves opening new offices in Mexico and supporting infrastructure to ensure the seamless flow of goods across borders as well as within Mexico. Rather than viewing localization and nearshoring as challenges, we embrace them as opportunities to deliver exceptional logistics solutions that align with the automotive industry’s evolution.

Striking the Balance Between Efficiency and Resiliency

The automotive industry faces an ongoing challenge of balancing lean efficiency with supply chain resiliency. Achieving this balance requires a combination of collaboration, expertise, localization, automation and visibility. Flexibility and adaptability are the foundation of a resilient supply chain, and strong relationships with customers, along with the smart utilization of technology, enhance these qualities. By working together and embracing data-driven solutions, we can continue to navigate the ever-changing automotive logistics landscape successfully.

Learn more about our automotive logistics solutions and connect with a team member today.


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