We needed a company that we knew and could trust.

Sime Darby Automobile has handled this growth smoothly thanks to an efficient and effective logistics process. In 2001, Sime Darby Automobile Pty. Ltd. became the sole representative for Peugeot cars in Australia. With a new, dedicated sales and marketing team, the company quickly grew the business, so that the 2001 figure of some 3,000 cars imported annually from France had jumped to 8,000 per year in 2009 – and Sime Darby is looking at breaking the 10,000 vehicle figure shortly.

One thing they didn’t have to do, says Ken Thomas, General Manager and Director of Sime Darby, was increase their logistics staff when they took on the Peugeot assignment. 

WWL was able to provide an in-house service where we could outsource the responsibility of managing our inventory,” he says. “This means that when the vehicle arrives from the factory at the port of Le Havre in France, WWL manages the vehicle’s ocean transport, its arrival in Australia, the movement of the vehicles to storage facilities, the preparation of the vehicles prior to distribution to the dealer network, and the organisation of internal freight to the point of retail sale. It’s basically a one-stop logistics solution for us.”

The ability to rely on WWL for complete supply chain management is very important for Sime Darby, Ken Thomas stresses. 

“We need to focus on our core activities: managing our dealers, selling cars, doing marketing and supporting our customers,” he says. “We have always tried to outsource as much as we possibly can; we don’t want to get bogged down in managing inventory, movements, freight and customs clearance.” By doing this, he says, “Our direct staffing is less than 50 people, so we’re fairly lean and mean.”

In fact, says Jeff Black, Contract Manager, Business Development for WWL in Australia, WWL has been with Sime Darby pretty much from the first day the company began to handle Peugeot vehicles in Australia. 

“Wilhelmsen had been involved on the ocean side for many years, shipping Peugeot vehicles to Australia,” he says. “We were in on the ground floor in 2001, which meant that Sime Darby did not have to downsize an existing logistics team, nor build a large logistics team.” 

Sime Darby was also one of the first companies, Black says, to make use of WWL’s visibility system. “With this tool we are able to monitor and manage their supply chain,” he explains.

“It’s integrated right into Peugeot’s factory information system, as well as the transport company information system – pretty much everything along the supply chain. From the wharf in France through to the dealer here in Australia, we can monitor the progress of individual vehicles. When things fall behind or something goes wrong, the system tells us. Even though we’re handling 8,000 vehicles annually, we focus on the few problems, rather than the majority of vehicles where there is no problem.”

Ken Thomas describes the system from the customer viewpoint. “WWL basically said to us, what if we build you a website that collects all the information from various sources and create an information database,” he says.

“It gives us predictability modeling. It automatically loads the information on how the car is traveling from France to Australia, and loads that into the estimated time of arrival. So, for us as the user, instead of contacting different suppliers and trying to calculate things in our heads, the system does it for us.” With this system, he adds, the salesman or dealer can simply pull up the website, plug in the code for a car, and they can find out the location of the ship transporting the vehicle, the estimated arrival time at the port and when it should be at the dealership. 

Peugeot is represented in the Australian market with nearly the complete vehicle lineup. One interesting, newer model is the 4007, a four-wheel drive compact crossover developed as a joint venture with Mitsubishi of Japan. “They don’t only build the cars at Mitsubishi, they also take responsibility for shipping them from Japan to Australia,” Ken Thomas says. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that WWL is out of the picture for the 4007. “We handle all the inland logistics in Australia for the vehicles, even when the vehicles are not transported on one of our vessels,” Black explains.

Ken Thomas says that this full coverage of logistics services provided by WWL is part of a very close and successful relationship. “I suppose that one of the reasons we like working with WWL is that it’s not just a commercial contract, but a personal relationship as well. That means the people working in both companies all the way up to the senior management level, where we talk together about strategy, policy, pricing and other matters.”

We recently re-signed our contract with Sime Darby for another five years,” Black says with obvious pride. “They were one of the customers that trusted us early on in our logistics venture, signed on with us, stayed with us through the inevitable early teething pains, and we have now entered into our ninth successive year of doing business together.” 

When Sime Darby began its work representing Peugeot in Australia, Ken Thomas says there were a number of potential business partners to choose from. “We needed a company that we knew we could trust and work with to transport vehicles from France to Australia. My boss at the time had worked together with Wilhelmsen; from that came a discussion, an agreement and a contract for providing logistics services. We meant by logistics not just ocean shipping but managing the vehicles once they arrived here. WWL was able to promise that, and they have delivered.”

Sime Darby, headquarted in Kuala Lumpur, is Malaysia’s largest multinational corporation. Along with its auto-motive activities – which, outside of Australia include dealer-ships and manufacturing activities in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and China – the company is also involved in plantations, property, industrial equipment and energy and utilities. In total, the company is active in more than 20 countries and employs over 104,000 people. 

ABOUT Peugeot
From its roots in the 19th century producing coffee mills and bicycles, Peugeot has grown to be part of the second-largest automaker in Europe, PSA Peugeot Citroën. Peugeot has been present in Australia since World War I. The brand received a major boost in 1953, when a Peugeot 203 won a 10,000-kilometre rally race across the Australian Outback. Today the cars are seen as a higher-level vehicle, and are well known for introducing clean diesel technology into Australia.