A 20-meter Moscow metro wagon. A 6-ton passenger plane engine. A 1,000-part city tram. All these vehicles’ components must go a long way before they can function together as a whole. Sometimes production starts with one piece in Japan and ends with final assembly in Austria. Logistics for the transport and machine industry is a separate world operating subject to its own rules and difficulties. We talked about them all with AsstrA Head of Transport Manufacturing Logistics (ATML) Ilya Klementenok:
Ilya, when did you understand that the company needed a dedicated department? How is ATML different from AsstrA Automotive Logistics?
At the beginning of 2018 AsstrA was experiencing remarkable growth in cooperation with one of our key clients, a major manufacturer of railcars and trams. It thus became clear that we needed to build focused logistics capabilities in the transport sector. Doing so was difficult but was very promising considering the fast-growing market.
Management started by exploring the specifics of the industry and considering the feasibility of a department dedicated to serving transport manufacturers. After a thorough market assessment that included, among other things, visiting a number of exhibitions and conferences for the sector, the decision was made to create the AsstrA Transport Manufacturing Logistics Department. Customers are manufacturers of railway, air and sea transport and components as well as construction and agricultural equipment.
The foundation for the division’s stable growth is its ability to “cover” any requirement in the Transport Management segment. We provide transportation for goods of any weight and size along with customs clearance, cargo insurance, consulting, etc. The list of our offerings is as long as a customer needs it to be. This is the point of creating a department dedicated to an industry; multiple specialists in one place who can fully support the delivery chain. If necessary, clients can run entire turnkey transportation projects with one partner instead of dividing responsibilities between 5 contractors.
What are the core competencies and skills that an ATML expert should possess?
A project often dictates its own rules. Optimism and a focus on results are just as important as professional training. If we get “lemons” then we are ready to make “logistics lemonade” out of it. The qualities that are required from each specialist are a sincere desire to work in the ATML department, good emotional intelligence, and strong work ethic.
Working in ATML is a challenge that drives you go forward, both professionally and personally. In the spirit of the old aphorism “docendo discimus” (“By teaching, we learn”) we say that we develop ourselves by developing logistics projects. This is where you understand how important it is to be open to new knowledge, ideas, and opportunities.
The department launched about six months ago. Have you managed to identify strengths and weaknesses by now?
It is important to understand that having a dedicated department is already an advantage in and of itself. Many transport and logistics companies are not organized around the industries they serve. At AsstrA, the creation of a separate team for a particular industry helps to concentrate all the best experience, skills, and contacts in one place.
The second advantage is the comprehensive package of exclusive services we offer. For anything from driving a train, clearing a ship or offshore drilling platform through customs, or offering embedded services, a Control Tower, or Aircraft on Ground support — we’ve got it covered.
Embedded services are a temporary “rental” of experts. So that customers can focus on their core business, AsstrA makes a team available on site to coordinate logistics activities.
A Control Tower is a supply chain management model developed on the basis of analytical data. The system offers strategic solutions for cargo management.
Aircraft on Ground (AOG) support is like an ambulance for the airline business. It involves urgent, same-day delivery of aircraft parts in the case of an aircraft needing emergency repair.
Regarding challenges, at this stage they are mainly about offering a wide range of delivery options for tight deadlines. Since the department launched, high manufacturing growth and several external factors has led to customers making “ship or not ship” decisions at the very last moment, when scheduling is already tight. In some cases shipment should have begun “yesterday” to stay on schedule and on budget. The AsstrA team is doing everything possible to offer the best options. At the same time, it is important to understand that the earlier you apply for a quote, the more options you will have available.
What has been your most difficult test so far?
We had spent two months preparing a comprehensive proposal for a client based on some data they had provided with the goal of delivering a tunnel boring machine for subway construction. During the subsequent meeting with the client, it turned out that the parameters of the cargo were fundamentally different from those stated earlier.
The client provided new engineering drawings and firmly requested a quote “here and now”. The AsstrA team had an hour to prepare a new transportation proposal. Right on the spot, the client received a new commercial proposal with a reasoned rationale for the price, choice of equipment, shipment schedule, route, and action plan. Although the deal was at risk at 12:00 when the meeting began, by 8:00 pm the client had already hired AsstrA to deliver the equipment.