Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Manufacturing cars is a complicated process which involves hundreds to thousands of suppliers sourcing discrete components that are needed for each vehicle. This creates a large supply chain system and involves the combined effort of suppliers, distributors, and OEMs to create safe and well-designed vehicles.
Within this large supply chain system, a gap still exists in the automation and digitization of tooling management system. Many automotive OEMs are still unable to keep track of their suppliers’ activities with their toolings, especially when they have suppliers all around the world. They cannot tell if their part is being produced under optimal conditions to ensure no faulty part is produced. The last thing any company wants is to spend all the effort designing, assembling and testing a vehicle for that one small part produced to be the reason for millions of vehicles being recalled and millions of dollars lost.
Most OEMs in the auto industry outsource some parts of their manufacturing to suppliers across the globe to reduce production costs. However, many of them still lack visibility into their suppliers and tooling and are unable to benchmark which of their suppliers use their tooling properly to provide them with higher quality parts. The most important questions to ask are, how do I know the quality of that part before a problem occurs, and how do I find the source of my problems after discovering there were issues. Although suppliers are entrusted by OEMs with their tooling to produce the components, there are times that these suppliers want to produce it faster in order to keep a higher margin and stay on schedule, but one hiccup in the process could lead to a huge problem after the vehicle has been produced and is in use.
Recently an increasing number of large automotive OEMs have recalled vehicles due to quality reasons such as faulty airbags, emission problems or faulty brake switches. These recent cases alone have resulted in millions of vehicles being recalled, 180 injuries and 20 deaths, and OEMs have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settling consumer loss claims. In these cases, just one faulty part could lead these companies to go into bankruptcy or collapse and a huge loss of their brand value. The inability to conduct proper auditing due to the lack of data and knowledge within an Automotive company’s supply chain could really damage the momentum they have created.
The Next Step
Industry 4.0 in tooling management is about the automation and data exchange with every party involved in auto manufacturing. A fully integrated and connected tooling monitoring system can adapt to a fast changing and dynamic environment. Let's say, at a supplier’s facility the actual cycle time may exceed the recommended cycle time, resulting in a higher risk of faulty parts produced. If the company was alerted of such abnormalities, the batch could be reexamined to be deemed appropriate for use or be scrapped before a problem arises.
Having historical and real-time data from tooling available to OEMs, is essential to make an informed decision on which suppliers to stick with, and ultimately how confident you are about the quality of your parts produced internally and externally. Monitoring your suppliers will stop them from over speeding the production schedule and lead to better risk mitigation. This will encourage suppliers to better plan and OEMs will be alerted prior to any potential quality issue. This data allows for auto companies to have forward visibility and choose partners who they can rely on to collaborate with when designing, producing and rolling out their new line of vehicles.
The Automotive sector needs fill the void of missing data through tooling digitalization. Having complete understanding and access to data in auto supply chain will ensure that no faulty part causes vehicles to put people in danger. Book a 30-minute meeting to learn how you can help your company to prevent disasters in quality.