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Whether it’s time for servicing your recently purchased used car, or your car won’t start, or you just want to spruce up the look and feel of your new car, the automotive aftermarket company now needs efficient automotive logistics in order to deliver the parts and accessories that keep drivers on the road, but at a competitive logistics costs in order to stay off competition.

State of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry

automotive logistics aftermarketThis industry includes any product you might buy for a light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicle after the original sale, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). That includes replacement parts, accessories, lubricants, products to improve appearance, tires, and tools and equipment for making repairs. Together with attendant services, auto aftermarket products represented $307.7 billion in sales in 2012.

The automotive aftermarket is poised to grow even further. In 2012, sales increased 3.5 percent over 2011, according to the AAIA. And the average age of light vehicles on the road in the United States has been increasing steadily over the past decade, reaching a record high of 11.4 years in 2013, reports Polk, a global automotive intelligence firm based in Southfield, Mich.

“The forecast model demonstrates that despite strong new vehicle sales, historic high gas prices and a flattening of miles driven, our industry is poised for steady growth,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. “Why? The average age of vehicles is 11.3 years, the oldest ever, and the age mix of vehicles continues to favor older vehicles, creating a robust sweet spot for service and repair.”

As people keep their cars and light trucks longer, demand for aftermarket parts will increase, as well as the ability to manage rising freight costs as a result of steady growth, making it more important than ever for vendors in that market to drive smarter automotive logistics strategies.

State of Automotive Logistics

At the 14th annual Automotive Logistics Global Conference this year the talks and discussions of trends were centered on issues surrounding growing production, rising sales and high levels of capacity utilization.

One of the key focuses was the increase in production growth in Mexico for automotive and automotive aftermarket manufacturing. As it relates to logistics, the impact that Mexico is having on the North American automotive supply chain and logistics is substantial. Volume growth has come from both northbound and southbound flows. Mexico has seen a 15% growth in automotive suppliers this year that have added production, sub-assembly or distribution centers in the country.

In total, the automotive logistics base is expected to grow by 400% by the end of the decade as manufacturing increases. Grady also pointed to a shift in plastics production out of China to Mexico, as well as more complex operations, such as metal stamping, moving south of the border.

Survey results, as stated in the 20th annual Survey of Third-Party Logistics Providers CEOs, have also indicated a growing preference for 3PL providers to migrate towards near-shoring from Asia-Pacific to Mexico to aid in automotive logistics. The biggest complaint of CEOs being the rising wage costs in China, causing even Asia-Pacific oriented CEOs to move to lower-priced geographies like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, a whopping 87% of the North American CEOs interviewed reported providing 3rd party logistics services in Mexico (with and average revenue of 9.3% in the US, projected to increase to 12.5% in 3 years). Joining this growing list of providers is Cerasis, a third party logistics company and author of this blog post.

Automotive Logistics: A Growing Business Means a Growing Need for Scalable Effective Logistics and Freight Management

Service departments within dealerships rely heavily on distribution networks set up by automakers. In the United States, OEM-branded aftermarket parts—made domestically or abroad—flow into regional distribution centers (RDCs) owned and operated by OEMs. The RDCs supply products to a network of parts distribution centers (PDCs), which the automaker usually owns and operates as well.

As dealerships place orders for parts, PDC employees pick the product and prepare it for shipment in conveyances known as cages, sorted by dealers. Then a transportation provider sends route drivers to pick up the parts and deliver them to dealerships throughout the area.

Dealers must place their orders by an established cutoff time to receive next-day delivery, and they’ve been pressuring OEMs to set those cutoffs later.

OEMs try to accommodate dealers’ needs with fast, easy service to keep them from turning to alternative sources for parts. A lot of local auto parts companies approach dealers and ask for their business, and if they’re better able to serve, they’ll get that business. In order to get that business, automotive aftermarket must employ a sophisticated automotive logistics program in order to get supplies to customers in a timely manner. There is nothing more frustrating than losing a customer because you are having so much demand, but can’t cost effectively scale and meet your logistics needs.

Collaboration a Driving Force in Automotive Logistics

Whether they sell to consumers, dealerships, or independent service stations, aftermarket suppliers come under pressure to reduce costs. That’s prompting some to consider a strategy that hasn’t appealed to them in the past: sharing space with other shippers on trucks or in warehouses.

Most shippers have only one-third or one-quarter of a truckload going to a distribution hub, so it becomes expensive to service those dealers.  If a 3PL can fill the truck with product from more than one automaker, each shipper gains a cost advantage.

That kind of collaboration works for shipments to auto parts stores, as well. Consider a supplier that needs to deliver to thousands of parts stores. Another company across town is probably delivering to many of those same places, or to many of the places where distribution centers for those retailers are located.

Parts suppliers wouldn’t have to collaborate with competitors, or even with companies that make different kinds of auto parts. They might share space on trucks with companies in entirely different industries that happen to ship to similar locations.

Ernst & Young presented this idea at the 2013 Vision Conference of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association in March 2013, noting that this kind of collaboration has caught on among consumer packaged goods manufacturers.

Automotive Aftermarket Product and Expo Show 2013

aapex 2013Cerasis, is exhibiting alongside Automotive Aftermarket companies at this year’s Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo Show 2013 in order to speak to companies about their logistics needs. Cerasis will demonstrate their transportation management system and how the system aids in North American logistics and freight planning for both outbound and inbound freight. Included alongside the TMS offering are integrated freight management services from Cerasis to include freight payment, freight invoice auditing, and freight claims.

AAPEX represents the $477 billion global motor vehicle aftermarket with more than 130,000 professionals from around the globe participate in Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas, Nevada.

AAPEX is the connection to automotive aftermarket industry leaders and innovators all in one place.  Automotive parts wholesale distributors, retailers, service chains, jobbers and service professionals attend AAPEX. These buyers represent billions of dollars in buying power.

AAPEX is Tuesday, Nov. 5 through Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, Nev., and will feature nearly 2,400 exhibitors and approximately 5,000 booths.

Cerasis will exhibit at AAPEX 2013 in booth number #37031.

“With such great current customers such as Beck/Arnley (booth #4621)  and  H.E.C.A.T. (who will exhibit alongside Ritchie Engineering Company Inc. at booth #1253) , both automotive aftermarket companies, exhibiting this year at AAPEX 2013, as well as a handful of other of our current customers, we felt it was important for us to provide logistics solutions via our freight technology and freight management services to aid other automotive aftermarket companies in mitigating transportation and logistics costs as the industry grows,” said Vice President of Business Development, Steve Norall.