A brief report on the Spring Congress & General Assembly
On 26-27th May 2016, ECG held its 21st Spring Congress & General Assembly in the picturesque town of Baveno, on the shore of Lago Maggiore in Northern Italy. Over 130 representatives from member-companies and guests took part in the event held in the Grand Hotel Dino, where the first day comprised of a Board Meeting preceding the statutory General Assembly. The ‘members only’ session of the General Assembly saw the presentation of the Treasurer’s report and members voted to accept the accounts and the budget.
ECG’s President Costantino Baldissara welcomed the delegates at the beginning of the General Assembly’s open session. This was his last official presentation as President of ECG so he thanked all the Board members and the ECG Secretariat for the excellent collaboration during his 7 years . Mike Sturgeon, ECG Executive Director reported on the work of the ECG Secretariat and on the ECG Survey project which started in March this year. The next edition of the Survey is scheduled to be launched at the ECG Conference in Hamburg. Then the ECG Board members took the floor to report on the activities of their respective fields of responsibility. The audience were informed about Maritime & Ports, Land Transport, UK & Ireland, Eastern Region, OEM relations, EU Affairs and Quality. Besides the usual activity reports, new topics have also been created as a result of the Industry Meeting ECG organises with the OEMs: thus Capacity and Digitalisation have been added to the agenda.
Dr. Christian-Titus Klaiber, Director of the ECG Academy, presented briefly the next Course of the Academy and Jan Vollmer spoke about the Empty Mileage survey the ECG Academy Advisory Group (EAAG) launched earlier this year. During the entirety of the open session of the General Assembly, the members were queried on relevant issues via interactive questions after almost each presentation. The answers, as usual, will be closely analysed and followed-up.
During the election of the Board, 10 candidates from the previous Board were reconfirmed in their positions for another year’s term. A new President, Wolfgang Göbel (Horst Mosolf) and Vice-President, Mats Eriksson (AB Skandiatransport) were elected for a two-year tenure at the helm of the Association. Costantino Baldissara, outgoing President, was awarded an album with pictures and personal letters from Board members with whom he was working together during his 7 years as President of ECG. Two members of the Board decided to step down: Peter Borrmann (STVA) and Konrad Zwirner (Hödlmayr International). Their dedicated work and outstanding services to the Association were commemorated by the award of an ECG ‘Golden Pin’.
The day ended with a cocktail reception and gala dinner in a restaurant on the shores of Lago Mergozzo with a magnificent view of the lake and of the surrounding mountains. At the beginning of the dinner Rolfo, Gold Partner of the ECG event, delivered a welcoming speech. Then Egon Christ, a former long-time Logistics Director for Daimler, received the award of Honorary Logistician for his excellent collaboration with the FVL sector. This was followed by the graduation ceremony of Course 10 of the ECG Academy. All 19 students graduated and were awarded the Certificate in Automobile Logistics Management by KPMG Education. Jessica Leonard of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Ltd. received the Giovanni Paci Award for best student which was jointly presented by Past President Costantino Baldissara and newly elected ECG President Wolfgang Göbel.
The Spring Congress itself took place on Friday and was opened by President Wolfgang Göbel. He praised the work of his predecessor, Costantino Baldissara, who steered the sector since 2009 during the worst possible economic situation for most of the companies. During Mr. Baldissara’s tenure as ECG President the Association’s role was strengthened so that it can speak with one voice and it can efficiently represent its interest towards the European institutions and the OEMs as well. The new President underscored the importance of member support and involvement in the Finished Vehicle Logistics Industry Meetings which ECG has established with the OEMs in 2015. Mr. Göbel further stated that the many achievements in which took place during the Presidency of Mr. Baldissara will be continued and built upon, highlighting the importance of “evolution” instead of “revolution.”
The first session of the Spring Congress started with a presentation by Justin Cox from LMC Automotive who gave a market outlook for light vehicle production, sales and export in Europe. In the short-term, he predicted almost 6% growth for the Light Vehicle (LV) market for 2016. LV production was strong in Europe in 2015, but production in the beginning of 2016 was a bit weaker and the growth is still modest. Mr. Cox noted that 70% of market growth in Europe comes from only three countries: Italy, France and Spain. The OEMs that are the most exposed to these markets (i.e. have a market share in these countries that is higher than their average European market share) are Renault-Nissan, PSA and FCA. Regarding the Russian market, the expert said that it is a “crash market” where the market is contracting by 10% but it seems to have “bottomed out”. The LV production in Russia hasn’t been hit as hard as sales since the import was replaced by domestic production. From among the OEMs, Renault-Nissan is the most exposed to the Russian market due to its Lada brand.
Speaking of the volatile European exports Justin Cox said that at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 dipped despite exports of Fiat Renegade to North America. In the medium-term the European-built FCA exports will increase: Renegade, Fiat 500X and the new Alfa Romeo products will also improve. European import share on the Russian market is expected to grow slightly already in 2016. The recovery in Russia is slow but it provides potential longer term growth. Regarding the UK referendum to remain in the EU or to leave, Mr. Cox told the audience that Oxford Economics has come up with a study on the potential impact of the “leave” win. The most probable scenario in this case would be slower economic growth, a weaker pound and a consumer confidence hit, where sales will be dragged down sharply.
The next speaker of the first session, Udo Sauerbrey, from Railistics, presented the EU-funded SmartRail project in which ECG is actively participating. He wrapped up the challenges of single wagon loads, where the load is smaller than a block train. He presented the routes where such services are available in France, the latest developments and the future prospects. The last speaker of the session, Kevin Doran from Sovereign, Silver Partner of the event, was speaking of cyber-attacks which can affect logistics. He said that random attacks can reach the staff of any company where the weakest practices are the passwords – 90% of them can be cracked within 1 day. Previously cyber risks related to mischief-making, now the risk is greater of financial loss.
The second session of the Spring Congress was opened by of Mr. Maurizio Lupi, Member of Parliament, Italy, and former Minister of Infrastructure and Transport who kindly accepted ECG’s invitation to speak at the event. He underscored the importance of infrastructure and of planning. Just 2.5 years ago in Italy there was no plan on the logistics and maritime sectors - the ports were not well connected, they were thinking of each other as competitors and there was no network thinking. But, as of 2013 the stakeholders started to think in an integrated way and the Logistics and Maritime Plan was approved, also thanks to the intervention of Mr. Lupi in his function of Minister.
The next presentation in the second session came from Szymon Oscislowski, who is responsible for Maritime transport & logistics at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE). He presented briefly the Commission’s policy tools on the field of logistics which is a key driver for the economy. He said that logistics is a task of industry, but needs the right framework conditions to operate in. He presented the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF) and the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) where ECG is actively participating. He touched upon the Green Shipping Financing Tool as well which is intended to fill in the gaps in the current financing of the green technologies.
The last speaker of the session was Mr. Bastiaan Krosse from the Dutch research institute TNO and he presented the latest developments and future prospects for truck platooning. He said that the Dutch Presidency of the EU, in place till the end of 30th June 2016, had automation high on its agenda. The two main interest points of the Presidency were automation and co-operation/connectivity, i.e. the communication between vehicles. The Dutch Presidency organised in April 2016 the European Truck Platooning Challenge during which platoons of trucks of different makes made their way through various parts of Europe to Rotterdam. This was an excellent occasion for Member States and the OEMs to come together and discuss the differences in legislation among various Member States. For instance the safe driving distance in Belgium is expressed in metres, while in Germany it is in seconds! Mr. Krosse highlighted that platooning is not a new concept but until now it has only been tested on closed routes where other road users were not supposed to enter the traffic. He noted that some new pilots will come in the near future (the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain are among those countries which are willing to explore this opportunity further) and he sees the first implementation of the concept as early as 2020. To a question from the floor on cyber-attacks, also fuelled by the presentation of Mr. Doran, Mr. Krosse said that trucks in platoons communicate locally and not via a main hub. This way they are not prone to cyber-attacks.
In his closing words, ECG President Wolfgang Göbel thanked members for their participation and invited them once again to share their engagement and commitment with the recently formed Finished Vehicle Logistics Industry Meeting.