BEIJING – Not long ago, a major Western supplier wanted to buy 2 million parts a year from a Chinese component maker. The Chinese supplier’s quality was certified, but it had purchased that certification “on the street.”
“There was no implementation on the production floor,” recalls Frank Ogden, a manufacturing consultant in China. “The supplier
didn’t even have a thermometer to control casting.”
To avoid such pitfalls, international partsmakers in China are learning that a local supplier-development program is a must.
Patience also is a must as it often takes as long as two years for a Chinese supplier to meet international quality standards.
Only 15 percent of Chinese suppliers can meet those standards, says Ogden, who is vice president of global supplier development for the PAC Group, a Shanghai consulting company.
ZF Sachs of Germany works with Chinese suppliers a minimum of five years to ensure that they meet its quality standards, said Ye Guohang, president of ZF (China) Investment Co.
“You can’t just walk into a company and expect to buy off the shelf,” said Clive Woodward, senior manager for Asia Pacific supplier development at TRW Automotive. “You have to be willing to work beside them and bring them up to your quality level.”
Ogden said problems with Chinese suppliers ranged from a supplier not knowing how to meet a customer’s deadlines to inadequate testing of raw materials.
And don’t assume that an international quality standard certificate means the Chinese supplier is qualified, Ogden cautions. Many certificates are fake.