Spanish DaimlerChrysler plant picks up top ELA award

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At a ceremony held in Berlin recently, Harald Hauke, production and logistics manager at DaimlerChrysler’s Spanish Vitoria plant, was presented with the ELA’s European Award for Logistics Excellence 2003 by Mrs Mireia Vidal, the chair of the jury.

The award is given annually by the Brussels-headquartered European Logistics Association. Patron of this year’s award, the eleventh, was Mrs Loyola de Palacio, vice president of the European Parliament and European Commissioner for Transport and Energy.

The two other finalists were the German Fraunhofer IML and Switzerland’s Swisscom Mobile AG.

In the first stage, finalists battled it out against strong competition at national level. The DaimlerChrysler Vitoria plant’s concept won through in this round at the 25th symposium of the Spanish logistics federation, the CEL.

With the help of its award-winning logistics concept, the Vitoria plant produces two new models, the Vito and Viano, launched this summer to supersede the (older) Vito and the V-class.

The increased number of model variations from four to thirteen, the more complex basic body designs, the rise in the number of paint colours to 150 and the increase in the number of parts for final assembly all made a new logistics concept essential.

Developing an individual transport chain for each component group was the basis of the winning logistics concept. In the initial stages, this meant production planners had to assess every part in terms of volume and value, the distance to the supplier and the time taken from assembly integration planning to actual assembly. Only then could the planning of conversions, buildings, production lines and other infrastructural aspects commence.

A key element in the implementation of the logistics concept was the close involvement of system suppliers. To this end, the development and production of some of the modules, such as the cockpit and front end, was sub-contracted. The different material flows involved were developed in close cooperation with these suppliers. Another big consideration was whether a component should be supplied for assembly according to the ‘just in time’ principle or whether deliveries should follow a ‘just in sequence’ pattern, whereby the supply of parts is closely matched to the production sequence of each vehicle. Resolving this question also required the early and close involvement of suppliers.

Another important hallmark of the logistics planning is that system suppliers have set up premises in an industrial park situated in the factory grounds.

And yet another aspect lies in the construction of a final assembly line which has been rigorously designed for maximum assembly efficiency.

This combination of elements has produced a stable production process, coupled with a clear reduction in logistics costs compared with previous models.

Back in 1998, this company’s Spanish enterprise under a lot of pressure and there was even a risk of it closing altogether. The ELA jury felt that, by thorough analysis,Hauke’s team found the best solutions to address this situation.

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First runner up: Tower24: Customer pick-up centres

Prof. Dr. Michael ten Hompel, director of the Fraunhofer IML in Dortmund, and Oswald Grün, vice president of SSI Schäfer Noell in Giebelstadt, accepted the second prize on behalf of Tower24. This German project centres on an automatic pick-up terminal designed to overcome that old ‘last mile’ problem in the mail-order trade. Instead of delivering things to the door, the delivery service deposits ordered goods at central pick-up stations. With a user ID and password the customer can collect and even pay for his goods around the clock. As Tower24 bundles goods in and is available round-the-clock to both distributors and end-customers, it can reduce transport and logistics costs considerably.

The jury felt this to be a solution of social relevance that stands out for its originality and potential future impact. Much e-commerce turned out to be a bubble due to the notorious last mile, but this project shows that a creative and daring solution is already up and running. For more information, see


Second runner up: Swisscom Mobile: Mobile phone handset after-sales service

Successful after-sales service depends on having control of the overall after-sales chain and supplying the people involved at every stage with the necessary information. In this project, based on customers’ expectations of availability, delivery times and prices, all elements of the firm’s mobile phone after-sales supply chain systems were examined. The chain was viewed as a single entity so that it could be optimised as such.

An essential prerequisite for successful implementation was found to be a highperformance IT system and the centrepiece of this project was the adaptation of Swisscom’s existing Repairnet IT system. The main features of the new version include the fact that it is now based entirely on internet-enabled programming. All that is required for use is internet access with a browser; there is no need for any installations or program integration. All partners involved in the repair process (shops, customer care, repair centres, after-sales management) work with the Repairnet system.

Once the repair has been completed, the customer is automatically sent an SMS, e-mail or letter informing him that the handset is now ready for collection.

The ELA judgement was that Swisscom Mobile has found a solution for an important issue in the daily life of its customers, with good results in a complex and ever changing business. ‘This is not the only company dealing with this problem but this particular project appears to have all the right customer interfaces in place,’ the jury said.

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