A central software tool for logistics planning in the automotive industry

The central tasks of Magna Logistics Europe (MLE) are the analysis, evaluation and optimization of the supply chain of the global automotive supplier Magna. This applies to both existing as well as planned production plants, and requires the use of potential synergies between different locations. As part of the process chain in addition to the Magna plants, external suppliers also fall within the working range of the MLE, as do production sites of customers whose factories should be supplied as cost-optimally as possible with the necessary vehicle components / modules in the required quantity.

Based on bills of material, sender-receiver relationships, rate tables, packaging data, warehouse information, and many other input parameters, various logistics planning scenarios with different locations, delivery processes (direct deliveries, deliveries through consolidation centers, milk runs, …), and different delivery frequencies are calculated and compared with each other to finally select the optimal variant and to give reliable predictions about expected logistics costs and capacities.
MLE approached RISC Software GmbH with the requirement to include all these analyses and calculations performed up to now with different, non-interlinked systems into a single logistics planning system that is standardized and accurately specialized to the needs of the logistics planner.

The new logistics planning system should primarily provide a common database for all the persons and locations involved in planning scenarios and reproduce all the detailed steps of a planning process, starting with the collection of master data, via the definition of the delivery processes, to the planning of storage capacity and returning the empties to the starting point. Moreover, once planned, a logistics scenario should be able to be quickly and flexibly customized to adapt to changing conditions (e.g., the loss of a supplier).
Within a year, from November 2011 to October 2012, a prototype was developed in close cooperation with the employees of MLE, who set specific targets for the software from the beginning and provided their expertise to the RISC Software GmbH team. The prototype was immediately of great interest to the first test users and received consistently positive feedback. During the test phase, many constructive suggestions eventually incorporated into the first version of the finished product were adopted.

Since the beginning of 2013, the logistics planning software has been rolled out gradually in the group. Already in planning is a follow-up project, in which the logistics planning tool, mainly focusing on the planning of the supply chain, i.e., the extra-logistics up to now, is to be complemented by a module for planning the internal logistics, i.e., the planning of the internal supply processes from the warehouse to the production facility. Additionally, the existing module “Extra Logistics” is planned to be expanded in the context of this extension. In particular, the software ergonomics should be further improved by graphical editors that are additions to the currently offered tabular representations.