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“From theory to practice, everything was there!”

March 26-27 2018 Service Logistics Forum organized its first two-day fieldtrip. Destination was Leipzig, Germany. During the two days 26 participants from The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Finland had the privilege to visit the DHL Global Hub and the Porsche factory. In addition to the company visits there was a very interesting service logistics seminar with presentations of Eindhoven University of Technology, ASML, Porsche and DHL/Oracle. According to one the participants: “from theory to practise, everything was there!”

DHL Global Hub

All participants were eager to see this important operation for handling their next day spare parts in Europe or even wider. DHL Global Hub Leipzig is one of three Global Hubs and responsible for the handling of all DHL Express parcels. Other Global Hubs are located in Cincinnati (USA) and Hong Kong. Every night, flights from all over the world deliver cargo in Leipzig for distribution across Europe and cargo from Europe is gathered for distribution throughout the world. From Leipzig parcels are transported to approximately 50 destinations in Europe, Asia and the Unites States. Ralph Wondrak, Managing Director at DHL Hub Leipzig, explained how DHL Leipzig manages to handle all incoming and outgoing parcels every night. He also focussed on their contingency plans to safeguard this operation in almost all circumstances.

The time between the first landing and the last take-off is only a couple hours. During this time the hub handles 150.000 shipments per hour, around 2.000 ton freight per night. With a parking availability of 45 to 65 aircrafts and highly automated sorting facilities and 22km conveyor belts the hub with a length of 1km has a huge parcel handling capacity. Because the process is highly depended on availability of aircrafts, there are inspections every weekend. From the 4.900 employees there are 300 maintenance technicians on site. The hub also has its own hangar where aircraft maintenance can be carried out. If an aircraft happen to break down one of four spare aircrafts located at hubs in Bergamo and Copenhagen can be used. A night at the DHL Global Hub Leipzig (even on a relatively quiet Monday) is impressive.

Porsche

Porsche Leipzig is the largest Porsche factory after Stuttgart where the model 911 is manufactured. In Leipzig Porsche now manufactures two models, the Panamera and the Macan, both in a single production line. From the opening in 2002 till 2017 Porsche Leipzig also manufactured the 911 Carrera and the Cayenne. Porsche follows the build-to-order principle. This means every car is unique and this makes the single production line and the supporting logistic operation even more impressive. All technicians have the abilities to work on every model with all specifications. The waiting time for a new Porsche is approximately 6 months. Currently there are no considerations to increase production capacity to reduce this lead time. A visit to Porsche Leipzig is a true experience. Besides the factory tour, the visiting centre with museum, shop and restaurant with a view over Porsche’s own test circuit makes the visit very worthwhile.

Service Logistics Seminar

First, Geert-Jan van Houtum, Professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, provided an overview of current research questions regarding spare parts inventory control under system availability constraints. Geert-Jan discussed the challenge to determine the right inventory levels in order to meet the required service levels. Important is the system approach (in comparison to the item approach). By using this approach the same fill-rate or service level can be achieved against lower costs. Challenges are still to better predict spare parts supply with proactive relocation.

Paul Enders, Senior Manager at ASML, gave an insight in the business processes of ASML. Systems of ASML have an important position in customer’s production processes. So downtime of ASML systems has a big impact. Therefore spare parts have to be available on site at the customer or within a few hours distance according strict contractual agreements. Paul elaborated on how customers’ expectations can diverge from system specifications and how ASML constantly tries to consult with its customers to further improve performance.

Frank Röske, Manager Logistics at Porsche Leipzig GmbH, explained how Porsche will even further improve their logistics by implementing new logistic concepts. During the last two decades the numbers of cars produced at Porsche Leipzig doubled. At the same time logistics increased by five times because today’s cars consist of many more parts. Several improvements, internally (warehouse and picking optimization) as well as externally (transport optimization) has been made to limit logistics costs and reduce CO₂ emissions.

Finally, Yves Kermarrec, Site Manager at DHL, and Robert Hühne, Head of Operation at Oracle, gave an impression of the cooperation between DHL and Oracle in handling returns and repairs. When the Oracle team receives a customer order it informs the DHL team so that logistics activities can be planned and executed.

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