For suppliers, the S in Jaguar's new S-Type may stand for 'systems.'
Jaguar Cars Ltd. increasingly is turning to suppliers that can develop entire systems for its cars, said Steven Armstrong, Jaguar's purchasing director.
On the S-Type, for example, Magna Interior Systems supplies the instrument panel.
'We have a lot of system sourcing, because it gives you the ability to deal with one supplier who has ownership for the system,' Armstrong said in an interview. 'Then, when you do have a problem, you know who owns the system and who can solve it.'
Jaguar expects S-Type production to start in the first quarter of 1999 at the Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham, England. The S-Type goes on sale next spring in 60 markets around the world.
Armstrong said Jaguar's emphasis on system sourcing has streamlined the company's supply chain. 'You need to concentrate your efforts on suppliers with the core skills you require. For instance, we have moved to a much more system-based supply on interior trim. We used to have 30 to 40 suppliers of interior parts. Now maybe three or four are responsible for big chunks of the operation. That gives massive quality benefits because they're accountable for the interaction of all those components.'
Despite shortening its supply chain, Jaguar has not slammed the door on new suppliers, Armstrong said. 'We have brought in a number of new suppliers in the past few years, driven by changes in technology.'
And changes at Jaguar have brought on changes in its suppliers, Armstrong said. 'Vehicles like the S-Type are complicated because they are sold in many different markets. We have to bear in mind different legislations and customer tastes. That has driven a number of changes to our suppliers' businesses. We have ended up working with them to almost re-engineer their operations to cope with the complexities.'