The missing containers and racks are one example of the costly detours in logistics that vex the automotive industry’s sprawling supply chain. Under the just-in-time model—in which parts arrive at an auto plant just before they are needed on the production line—every delivery must arrive without fail. A large auto maker spends anywhere between $5bn and $8bn a year on logistics and transportation, making reducing loss and saving space in delivery trucks a priority.
“At a time when automotive production is going to 18 million vehicles in the U.S., these crates are worth their weight in gold,” said Brian Kelly, director of supply-chain management at Johnson Controls, who helped run the investigation. “You can’t move parts without them.”
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