BMW Group: Thinking big about outbound

Anita Pieper, vice-president of vehicle distribution and VDCs at BMW Group, is empowering her team, expanding its competencies and introducing new technology to improve vehicle delivery from this year well into the next decade

03 July 2017 | Christopher Ludwig

Pieper wants to bring more of the discipline and structure of a plant into outbound logistics, but that does not necessarily mean introducing 45-second takt times per handling or 15-minute delivery windows (although there is room to make outbound delivery more robust, she says). Rather, her emphasis is on process stability, data analysis and continuous improvement. From her plant days, Pieper has also learned the importance of empowering employees, and has thus created various project groups with team leaders to concentrate on network improvements and technology adaptation.

Pieper also believes there are areas where logistics functions can work together or even share purchasing and equipment. An example is protection wraps used on parts from delivery to factories, during assembly and through vehicle distribution. “When we work more closely together with inbound logistics and assembly, we can plan for the right requirements and do things in a more standard way across the supply chain,” she says.

Alongside pictures of her family, Anita Pieper’s office is full of visual charts and signposts: value-stream maps, PDA circles for scheduling and a 3PS board outlining various projects and targets her teams are working on, from quality statistics to network studies or a plant launch years ahead.

In the middle of the board is a simple circle surrounding the most important task for the week. It could be a system audit, a financial target, a tender deadline. The signs help Pieper focus, she says, with a view of both the ‘important’ and the ‘urgent’ across multiple timelines.