Stallkamp says tough-guy stance hurts bottom line
Tom Stallkamp delivered a thinly veiled message last week to the managers of General Motors and Ford Motor Co.: Automakers that abuse suppliers probably treat employees and customers the same way. And the ill will is costing sales.
BMW AG has refined processes at its plant in Spartanburg, S.C., to the point where car buyers can change an order as little as four days before their vehicle is produced. But several obstacles prevent that kind of flexibility from becoming common for nonluxury nameplates.
Ford Motor Co. expects to save $2 billion by decade's end by transforming its factories to flexible manufacturing. Ford's flexible plants can build multiple models on the same lines, says Matt DeMars, Ford's vice president of North American vehicle operations.
Suppliers cannot count on price relief when carmakers fail to build as many vehicles as they forecast, members of a panel at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference in Bermingham, Ala., said last week.
Factories must be able to juggle different products to stay alive
Industry productivity guru Ron Harbour told an audience at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference here last week that a factory's ability to juggle different products is what will keep it alive in an era when high-volume model runs are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
Automaker targets quality, manufacturing costs
Nissan North America Inc. has set new manufacturing targets for costs and quality. The "20/20 program" wants a 20 percent reduction in manufacturing costs over the next three years and a 20 percent annual improvement in Nissan's quality showings.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. will begin rolling out some new information technology practices to its engine plants this year and to suppliers in 2007, including an Internet-based version of the venerable Toyota supply chain-tracking system it calls "kanban."
When it reaches full volume over the next two years, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala., will account for one-fifth of total revenues for the Mercedes Car Group, according to the group's head of world production.