Many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers choose to partner with us and we currently work alongside clients in the automotive sectors in South Africa, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, China and the United Kingdom. We successfully assist our automotive clients to overcome challenges that include exacting timelines, uncompromising quality, increasing complexity and continuous cost pressure.

Our specialist competencies are evident in our unrivalled ability to design, implement and manage logistics solutions for the automotive inbound supply chain. Our broad capabilities in this sector range from diverse transport offerings to every aspect of warehousing and distribution, and comprehensive contract logistics solutions. Our exceptional value-added services encompass process and systems design and integration; facility layout and establishment; resource planning and management; CKD (complete knock-down) handling; empty container management and return shipment; and customs clearance.

What differentiates Imperial in this challenging environment is our obsession with time and process discipline - both of which are encoded in our design and implementation methodologies, operational process management and enabling systems.

In this demanding industry, quality control processes require integration to limit over, short and incorrect supply, and damages to parts. A continuous improvement philosophy is accordingly built into our management model and practices. By continually analysing deviations in each process step every day - and systematically adjusting the standardised process to include the new, better way - the opportunity for improvement never stops.

We also work alongside our automotive industry clients to instil a culture of continuous improvement, where everybody contributes to the process of problem identification, root cause analysis, and process improvements. Our strategic approach to the automotive supply chain ensures that, from the bottom up, standardised conditions and standardised work in all aspects of shop floor and office operations are achieved.

Despite the significant challenges posed by the pandemic and the global lockdown, our automotive activities delivered single digit revenue growth during the 2020 financial year. The automotive contract logistics and related transport businesses in Europe, where most of our automotive logistics services are provided, were most impacted by COVID-19 as all OEMs implemented plant shutdowns (c.90% of our automotive revenue is generated in Europe). The overall decrease in volumes was, however, mitigated by new business gains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and demonstrated how vulnerable automotive supply chains are to disruption, forcing companies to investigate ways of making these integrated supply chains more resilient. Many of the leading global automakers were impacted in the early stages of the pandemic as 30% to 60% of their parts are sourced from China. Many OEMs only expect car sales to reach pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2022 or 2023.

Electric modes of transport will impact automotive supply chains in future as fewer component parts will be required and technology and batteries have specialised complex requirements. Imperial has the necessary infrastructure and expertise for the transportation and storage of batteries which are classified as hazchem products, requiring specialised conditions and adherence to strict safety and health regulations across the regions. Imperial was able to assist one of the largest global OEMs with last minute transport and storage solutions in this area during COVID-19.

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