RUESSELSHEIM - General Motors is a third done with a plan to control 1,000 trucks delivering parts to its 12 assembly plants in Europe.
By freezing volume requirements at set periods, inbound arrivals can be planned more exactly. The lean approach to materials delivery is a means of improving production performance.
Tight new scheduling is already operating at Opel plants in Antwerp, Eisenach and Zaragoza, and at Vauxhall's factory at Luton. It will spread to eight other European plants over the next few months.
When fully operational the system will control more than 1,000 large trucks which move around Europe daily on behalf of GM's European manufacturing operations, which produce 1.8 million cars a year. Every truck will be routed and timed to arrive when and where it is expected.
'Freezing volume requirements at set periods gives us a chance to plan inbound component deliveries in a more manageable and stable way, which is where savings come from,' said Bill Saunders, European logistics manager for Adam Opel.
He said cost cutting was a primary goal of the lean materials ordering system that is spreading through Europe.
'The need to make best use of transport planning to support the system was seen as crucial,' he said. 'A new logistics system was inevitable.'
GM chose Paragon Software Systems of the UK as its logistics partner. Paragon had to adjust its roadmap-based vehicle routing and scheduling software to work with GM's lean materials ordering system, called EuroMais.
By integrating the systems, said Saunders, 'cost-effective collection of a level flow of components . . . could be standardized across all assembly plants.'
He said GM is already benefiting by the system.
Paragon had to interface with EuroMais to design fixed routes between suppliers and plants, based on typical weekly volume requirements. Roadmap information including average road speeds was used to verify routes and schedules.
Routes and schedules are planned weekly, varying according to production targets. Fixed routes are reviewed and revised.
EuroMais generates information on a specific week's materials requirements and transmits it to Paragon. Paragon assesses proposed routes, load feasibility and load utilization.