Chapman Freeborn blog

What happens when a vehicle production line stops

The average consumer does not really give supply chain management a second thought. Scheduled automotive plant stoppages over the summer or holidays are used for routine maintenance or to retool for new vehicle models and upgrade machinery. They are scheduled well in advance to accommodate personnel, supply chain and vehicle delivery logistics. Today, people have a better understanding about how the pandemic, extreme weather and the drama in the Suez Canal has brought supply chain management and logistics to the forefront.

No doubt about it. Supply chains have taken a significant hit over the last year. Its fragile nature is the result of becoming too lean and too mean. Some automotive companies have supply trucks arriving every 4 to 6 hours with supplies. Most are very tight on inventory and warehouse space. Big disruptions have a long ripple effect that will take a long time to resolve. Smart managers are already turning to alternative sources and methods for transport. Air charter brokers are anticipating these needs every day.

Ben Hampton, Director Cargo Sales for Chapman Freeborn, explains, “Customers call on us 24/7, so we’re always ready. The impacts of severe weather, the shortage of critical raw materials, our Go Now capabilities are just one of the reasons why companies relay on us.” Known as ASAP cargo or Go Now, automotive components for production lines are frequently called for to keep the line moving.

When a production line is about to run short of one element, like seat racks or wiring harnesses (pre-built, electronic wiring for each individual cars), cloth for seats, speaker covers, etc. The assembly line cannot simply skip a step and come back to it; the customer will make a call for more resources to be delivered. “These inbound logistics challenges have been the source of many of the recent calls, said Hampton. And we also see basic materials move from the automotive industry to other categories as well.”

Navigating the supply chain disruptions may be a long-term condition and one that will provide a better understanding as manufacturing finds its way forward. Until then, and despite disruptions, some car manufacturers are already seeing a rebound in vehicle sales for first quarter in 2021.