Fathi Tlatli

President Global Auto-Mobility Sector, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation
Fathi Tlatli

Fathi Tlatli has been with DHL for more than 15 years starting in 2004 as Vice President for the EMEA Engineering & Manufacturing Sector, then receiving additional responsibility for the Global Aerospace Sector in 2007. In 2009, he moved to his current role as President of DHL’s Global Auto-Mobility Sector now responsible for the strategy, development and the global customer management program for DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.

Fathi is holder of an MBA in International Management (University of Leuven) and a Bachelor Degree in Applied Economic Sciences (University of Louvain). In addition, he has diplomas in Integrated Supply Chain Management (University of Stanford) and International General Management (IMD). Fathi is the author of books on Time Management and Marketing in Emerging Markets, as well as articles in the international management field.

Fathi is also a professor at the ICHEC Brussels Management School.

Q. Do you see opportunities arising from cooperation between the automotive and technology industries?

Increasingly, consumers demand products that fit into their lives better – and sometimes in radically different ways. Wealthier customers, for example, want improved connectivity. Younger consumers especially are used to ubiquitous internet access.

In response, car makers are working with technology companies to make these services available for use on the move. Technology analyst Gartner predicts that automotive 'infotainment' technologies will become the second largest consumer application of Internet of Things technologies after personal health and fitness tracking. Wireless network technologies are rapidly trickling down from high-end luxury vehicles to the mass market, and Gartner estimates that one in five vehicles will possess such technologies by 2020.

Q. New Electrified vehicles are part of the OEMs new product range. How does that impact the entire automotive value chain and its logistics? What is important when transporting lithium batteries for hybrid and electric vehicle drives?

The pace of vehicle electrification has picked up considerably in the past couple of years, triggered by the emissions scandal and now driven by technical improvement in lithium-ion batteries, government support for more stringent CO2 targets – particularly across Europe, China and Japan – and a changing consumer mindset.

As battery production and demand increase, OEMs need specialist logistics solutions not only for inbound-to-manufacturing flows but also for aftermarket (routine replacement of used batteries) and end-of-life management (battery recycling, repurposing and disposal). Even for smaller electric vehicles, a battery might weigh in at 100-200 kg. For larger passenger cars and commercial vehicles, 300 kg or more is the norm. Not surprisingly, transporting such large and heavy batteries calls for some fairly specialised handling equipment. Lithium is highly flammable and strict regulations govern the shipment of Lithium-Ion batteries, which are categorised as Class 9 Dangerous Goods (DG) under international transport regulations. As an example, the transport of large batteries on passenger aircraft is largely forbidden. In addition to these transportation challenges, lithium batteries have specific handling and temperature-control requirements to preserve battery life. Last but not least, the issue of used battery collection, disposal and recycling is expected to become more important and more challenging as electric vehicle sales grow. As a result, OEMs who want to push the development and worldwide sale of electrified powertrains will have to adapt their supply chains to include cradle-to-grave solutions for lithium batteries.

Q. How does digitisation help logistics adapt to the increasing speed and complexity of the global automotive industry?

While automotive manufacturing is getting more complex and automated, distribution channels are evolving to reach new markets and consumer expectations. This puts a lot of pressure on supply chains that must adapt and reinvent themselves in order to keep up. Digital technologies are important tools for this purpose. Thanks to IoT technologies we are capable to gather a lot of data through our extensive network of vehicles and transportation. It helps us provide more visibility and optimisation opportunities with the support of new IT tools and software.