C4 Logistics, a UK-based logistics company that specialises in time-critical deliveries, is expanding its operations and has opened an office in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of January.
Hungary has traditionally been seen as a place where low-cost cars are built. But this is changing. Audi is now building the sporty, high-end TT Roadster at its plant in Gyor, and Mercedes has recently announced that it is adding a third model to the line-up being build at the Kecskemét plant. Across the border in western Slovakia, Jaguar Land Rover is building a new assembly plant in Nitra. Eastern European car manufacturing is producing more premium vehicles, and Sébastien Barth, Managing Director of C4 Logistics, believes that this shift in the type of cars being built in the region will have a knock-on effect for logistics companies operating there.
“So far, in Hungary, much of the logistics supply chain has been components shipped by rail transport from German car plants, such as Audi’s Ingolstadt, to their sister plant in Hungary. But as the manufacturing industry in Hungary and surrounding countries like Slovakia expands, it is likely that the local supplier network will not be able to keep pace, and unexpected events can interrupt any supply chain, no matter how robust it seems. When that happens, having a reliable time-critical service is essential to keep the assembly line running,” he explained.
C4 Logistics already has bases in the UK, France, Germany and Romania, and, as a non-asset owning company, specialises in using technology and ‘intelligent tracking’ to meet their customers’ exacting standards. Some 70% of the company’s business is from the automotive sector, with 15% from aerospace and pharma.
“Aerospace and pharma are very demanding from a logistics point of view, and we have applied the same rigorous standards of execution to our automotive business,” explained Barth. C4, headquartered in the heartland of UK automotive manufacturing, Coventry, has built long-term relationships with selected carmakers, and, as those companies expand their manufacturing bases into Eastern Europe, C4 goes with them.
“Our clients need to be reassured at every step of the way that delays are not going to cost them in terms of time, medical emergency priority or money. C4 Sight, our bespoke track-and-trace GPS solution allows clients to monitor consignments minute-by-minute via a mobile phone app and customer portals,” he said. C4 offers a money-back guarantee, and aims to be never more than an hour away from their customers. Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Barth is confident that C4 logistics can deliver anywhere in Europe, fast. The tracking technology, which puts the customer in control through a real-time web portal and provides instant KPI reporting, is perfect for high-value products that need constant monitoring.
Hungary’s automotive manufacturing accounts for 10% of the county’s GDP, and a recently published study by PWC’s automotive specialists predicts that 697,000 cars will be built in Hungary in 2019, with 561,000 of those in the premium category. Compared to other central European countries this number of premium category cars is the highest in the region. Audi, Mercedes, Opel and Magyar Suzuki currently have full assembly operations in Hungary, and many of the world’s top Tier 1 suppliers are also present in Hungary, such as Bosch, Bridgestone, Continental, Delphi, Denso, Hankook Tyres, Lear, LUK and Michelin.