It's sometimes difficult to say which way manufacturing trends will head during the final quarter of the year when temperatures typically drop in many places throughout the U.S. Traditionally, cold weather tends to scare away consumers, which drives down demand. As a result, there's more risk involved in trying to balance inventory with projected sales figures. However, there are times when certain verticals within the manufacturing industry buck trends and skew upwards. This is the case in the automotive market.
According to Reuters, sales numbers for car and truck sales during the month of November were at their highest point in more than a decade. In fact, the nation's top six automotive manufacturers benefited from low oil prices and consumers appeared to respond to robust discounts.
Reuters reported the November annualized sales rate reached 17.2 million cars and trucks, which is half a million more than analysts' predictions for the month. The last time the automotive market was this hot was in 2003, well before the economic downturn.
"This sustained demand for new vehicles was building for years during the recession, and it should continue unless a major shift in economic stability occurs," explained Karl Brauer, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
Chrysler saw the largest increase in sales, largely due to interest in its lineup of Jeep vehicles. Meanwhile, GM also benefited from strong customer demand, with increased sales of 6.5 percent.
Processing Vehicles with Greater Flexibility
One of the ways that automakers can improve their supply and distribution channels is through mobile data collection solutions. Toyota Canada provides a great example of how radio frequency identification tags can strengthen vehicle processing.
When the car company decided to upgrade its vehicle processing facilities in Canada, it needed to integrate better workflows. Originally, Toyota Canada processed cars and trucks in batches during the rail offloading process, but eventually realized it would be more efficient and would improve operational throughput to do so on an individual basis.
The solution was to design and implement a yard management system that leveraged mobile data collection software and equipment. RFID tags provided visibility into the progress of vehicles through the different stages as they moved from the yard to processing center. At the same time, Toyota was able to take advantage of the data captured throughout these processes to perform capacity analysis, pre-sort planning and parts ordering.
With fluctuating demand, it's important for automotive manufacturers to establish processes that allow for improved visibility into product movement, as well as flexibility. Mobile data collection provides both.