The German Roundtable of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) organized a conference centered on the topic “Aftersales Supply Chains – THE driver for revenue, market share, return of investment and customer satisfaction” on Thursday. During this event the host Volkswagen (VW) Kassel offered 35 participants to take a tour through one of the largest spare part warehouses worldwide. Furthermore, the topic was addressed from different point of views in five presentations. The biggest challenge is to forecast the availability for hardly predictable part demands – especially in the light of ~1.6 million different parts depending on the industry.

“We have been living constant change for several years. Even now there is no standstill. New constructions and relocations, optimizations – there are constantly new projects in the pipeline.” Clemens Diedrich, Corporate Group After Sales, Supervision Logistics and Quality Control, Volkswagen AG summarized.

Five different projects form IT-systems and laser technology over packaging optimization to the improvement of employee workplaces were introduced during the presentation. There was sufficient time for intense discussions on the topic afterwards. The diverse experiences of the participants and many questions resulted in many interesting answers. Repeatedly, the utility and the necessary effort were evaluated.

The sixth project presented by Jörg Homburg, Corporate After Sales, Supervision Service Control, Volkswagen AG was related to the progress on the relocation of the Singapore based warehouses to a newly constructed one in Malaysia.

Dietmar Düsing, Head of Logistics and Member of the Management Board of Claas Service and Parts GmbH provided his view on the extraordinary challenges of meeting the demands of customers with large agricultural machines. The season for agricultural machines is short – and during the main six weeks of the harvest season the harvesting machines have to be usable with as little interruptions as possible. Also, the growing grey market for replicas complicates the chance for success. Furthermore, the buyback of older parts from the dealers is another specialty of the industry. Herr Düsing showed several solutions to conquer the challenges. Especially, the closer cooperation between Claas and the dealers promises an improvement of the information flow on both sides.

But employing software is unfruitful if the base is not adjusted correctly, Herr Düsing could tell; first you always have to clean your master data to guarantee the best possible data quality.

Following the lunch break, Georg Odenthal, long-time executive in the strategic and operative after sales areas in the automotive, construction and industrial plant industries was able to share his experience in the three different industries comprehensively. He was giving a short overview of the most important topics and indicated the commonalities and differences of the solutions in the different cases he presented. The central point of the presentation was the common goal of all the companies: the revenue optimization. Georg Odenthal defined after sales as the combination of customer service – meaning everything related to repair works, maintenance, diagnostic devises, specialized tools, training, warranty and customer loyalty – as well as the spare parts business – including the parts portfolio, the denomination per packaging unit, the origin and the information flow for the buyer.

Answering the question how one can “become rich”, Georg stated that this is possible if the entire supply chain, not only the logistics, is optimized. The extensive discussion on pricing strategies and cost causes with many different examples offered many suggestions and thought-provoking impulses.

Before entering the conclusive round of discussions, the two speakers from the VW group lead the participants through a well-organized tour of the impressive warehouse and picking areas. Old and new technologies work hand in hand – each technology being employed as needed. Also here the many questions which were asked could be answered expertly.

As the conclusion of the day, the speakers were answering further questions in a round of discussion. The chance to ask questions was used intensively by the participants. One of the more extensively discussed topics was the usage of KPIs for controlling purposes. The bottom line can be summarized by the quote “One goal and three performance indicators” as a sensible solution. Furthermore, change management was one of the hot topics. The many given examples confirmed what was initially mentioned: “After sales supply chains underlay constant change. If the employees are included, the business will develop in the proper direction.”

Overall, the event offered a high potential for thought provocation, there was enough room for networking and the mood was open and stimulated the exchange of knowledge. Everybody should be able to look back on the event positively.

The next CSCMP event is already planned: On November 30th, 2017, the CSCMP Roundtable Germany invites everyone who is interested to the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich. The topic is: “The role of Blockchain in Supply Chain – Only a hype or a topic with substance?” All information can be found on the event side within this webpage.