Can you identify this industry: soaring raw material costs, global pricing pressures, flexible factory re-tooling, niche segment proliferation? One hint: think chocolate and peanuts. We have many of the same issues the auto industry does, says Laurie Winward, senior product development manager at candy goliath Mars Inc. Winward is at Management Briefing Seminars this week taking copious notes. Mars isnt going into the auto parts business -- its just realizing that the auto industry is groping its way through the same challenges as the candy industry. In some cases, Mars is even ahead of the curve juggling Starbursts and Skittles. Find Winward in the crowd and she may have a solution to offer. And be nice. She may have a bag of M&Ms for you.
THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING -- Getting 17 competitive tooling suppliers together to come up with a joint bid for the auto industry isnt easy. That's especially true when you consider that automakers expect a one-week turnaround on those bid packages, David Muir, vice president of Paragon Die and Engineering Co. said at the Management Briefing Seminars yesterday. But at least these suppliers have their own approach. "Because we're a bunch of tooling guys, we're engineers," Muir said. "So of course we started by creating an algorithm."
THERE ARE LIMITS -- Suppliers in Asia have limited measurements when it comes to work force planning. That was one of the conclusions from a study presented by Phil Ullom, a managing consultant with Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Tuesday at the Management Briefing Seminars. In some cases, he added, companies don't even have an accurate number of their employees.