On the same Wavelength
Working together for over 40 years – that counts for a lot in the business world. Logwin Magazine asked John Sobeck, Head of Logistics for ZF Friedrichshafen AG, about the ingredients for success. How does a collaborative partnership continue to be effective over so many years? And what does the future together look like?
Logwin Magazine: ZF has been working with the logistics provider Logwin for 46 years now. How did the relationship begin and what is the secret to this long-term partnership?
John Sobeck: The two companies began working together years ago with dispatch deliveries for Fichtel & Sachs. From that time on, a relationship of trust has been built up over the years. Right up to the present day, the secret is consistently high-quality service at competitive prices, and the willingness to continue developing with us.
- John Sobeck, ZF Friedrichshafen AG
Logwin Magazine: What effect has the current realignment at Logwin had on you?
John Sobeck: The realignment doesn’t have any significant effect on us – it’s happening behind the scenes, so to speak. What counts is the quality of the logistics service, both in terms of freight forwarding and productionrelated value-added services. And Logwin gets it right.
Logwin Magazine: What does the automotive industry require of logistics providers? To what extent have the logistics requirements changed over the last few decades?
John Sobeck: At first it was straight delivery services that were the main focus. From the 80s onwards, we’ve been making greater use of logistics services. The biggest change has come about through IT. It’s only when the flow of goods is accompanied by a real-time flow of information that we are able to react with the speed we need to remain competitive. Putting it all into practice remains as important as always – we source parts from more than 2,500 suppliers all over Germany. The coordination of the various logistics processes has to run like clockwork.
Logwin Magazine: What are the value-added services that are of particular interest to you?
John Sobeck: As you’d expect, it’s those services that require special knowledge of the industry and a particular level of experience. That includes production-related logistics services such as on-site logistics for running our parts warehouse, developing custom packaging solutions and operating the distribution warehouse for ZF Sachs near the Schweinfurt production facility. From there Logwin supplies 40 assembly facilities and manages all aspects of coordination and dispatch, from warehousing and configuring the kanban system right through to electronic just-in-time delivery, stock control and continuous inventory. But also, managing empty containers, organising container loading and provisioning, which includes supply control and freight management, are all important elements.
Logwin Magazine: With the addition of new areas at the beginning of the year Logwin has become your sole freight forwarder for Germany. What are the advantages of bundling allthese services together?
John Sobeck: ZF is pursuing a clear strategyof standardising our processes with a highdegree of automation. This requires a highlevel of integration between the IT systems ofall parties involved in these processes. Withthis in mind, we are keen to work in closercollaboration with just a few service provi ders.Logwin had previously been our freight forwarderin eight postcode regions. As we werehappy with their service, it was an ob viousdecision to assign the other areas to Logwinas our logistics partner. Consolidation wasanother key factor – Logwin bundles singledispatch items and smaller partial loads forus at the central hub in Gochsheim.
Logwin Magazine: ZF ranks amongst the world’s ten largest automotive industry suppliers. What is your strategic focus – speaking in relation to the current economic situation as well – to maintain and build upon this position?
John Sobeck: The current economic situation has had a particularly severe impact on the heavy commercial vehicle market. At the present time we are focussing on developing our products with more efficient and more environmentally friendly fuel saving technology.
Logwin Magazine: Mr Sobeck, thank you very much for this interview.