A tight game of logistics
All kinds of different explanations and suppositions have been put forward regarding the supplier dispute between VW and Prevent, and also about what triggered the disagreement and the consequences it will have for the industry as a whole. There are some who say a shot across the bows was long overdue in view of the constantly increasing pressure applied by OEMs. Comparisons have even been made with the relationship between early capitalist employers and the beginning of the trade unions in the middle of the 19th century.

Others play down the issue and say that a dispute such as this only occurs once in a blue moon. At any rate, it is nearly 20 years since a similar situation occurred between Ford and lock manufacturer Kiekert. Most people, however, will be shaking their heads and thinking: If it were us, it would have never gone this far. After all, you can sort out nearly anything by sitting down at the table and talking about it.

The price a supplier will have to pay after acting in this way is likely to be enormous. But the same is true for VW. After all, VW's reputation has already been tarnished by "Dieselgate" and it would therefore be easy to reproach the company for at least a lack of sensitivity when dealing with its suppliers.

The whole thing is, however, a warning shot for all car manufacturers. That basically means: "you can do a lot with us, but you can't do everything". After all, the depth of production by the OEMs has been falling for several decades. Around 70% of all parts are nowadays outsourced to suppliers, who, in addition, also carry out virtually all the innovation activities.

Perhaps the carmakers have forgotten that although they have plenty of purchasing power, they have also become highly dependent on outside companies. In fact, they are more dependent now than they were in the age before "just in time" and "just in sequence" provided the much-wanted slimming-down effect. It got rid of all the extra fat from which they could have fed in times of need. Nowadays, one side can survive logistically at most a week without the other, and that is really not very long.

Sven Arnold
KI Group editor
30.08.2016 [234895-0]
Published on 30.08.2016

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