A recent announcement from two German companies pushes the concept of assembly outsourcing and supply chain management to an entirely new level.

In recent years, manufacturers have been fine-tuning their supply chains and streamlining the just-in-time delivery process. When all the intricate choreography works right, it helps companies achieve strategic goals, such as flexible production.

A recent announcement from two German companies recently caught my attention. It pushes the concept of assembly outsourcing and supply chain management to an entirely new level.

Keiper Recaro Group (Kaiserslautern, Germany) says that DHL Exel Supply Chain (Dortmund, Germany) will soon begin assembling car seats for its customers. Under the unique agreement, DHL will not just be responsible for logistics-it will use modular assembly sites strategically located in the vicinity of automakers such as Aston Martin, Audi, Ford, Honda, Opel, Porsche and Volkswagen.

“The radical and intelligent restructuring of the value-added chain is a major process innovation that will benefit our customers in terms of reduced costs," says Horst Kespohl, Recaro’s chairman. "This combined business approach is a continuation of our efforts to position Recaro as a highly qualified system supplier for the automotive industry.”

"Automotive manufacturers are increasingly faced with shorter model cycles, as well as increasingly complex vehicle systems,” adds Michael Engler, head of the automotive, industry and technology divisions of DHL Exel Supply Chain, which is a subsidiary of Deutsche Post AG (Bonn, Germany). “Therefore, cooperation with premium suppliers is absolutely essential. Logistics providers have an increasing role in the production areas and the automotive value-added chain as a whole."

The partnership represents an interesting approach to combining assembly and logistics. Under the new business model, Kespohl says Recaro will “contribute its core competencies in the areas of development, marketing and distribution of car seats. Customers will benefit from significantly reduced delivery times, despite the fact that the product range is large and varied, and will also benefit from low cost structures.”

Eventually, DHL plans to assemble additional automotive parts and components for other suppliers. In fact, the company already assembles door side panels that are installed in Audi A4 and A6 sedans.

I wonder if this is the start of something big. It will be interesting to see if this paradigm-shifting concept becomes more popular-especially in the United States.