Head of supply chain planning and materials management, Waymo
Big break: Brought consumer electronics expertise on materials planning to AV business
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, managing supply chains was a routine but vital aspect of the automotive industry that typically didn’t garner much attention. But in early 2020, the world shut down and so did the global supply chain, affecting everything from toilet paper to auto parts.
Imagine you’re head of supply planning and material operations for a company in the highly competitive and quickly evolving autonomous vehicle industry. Add to this a global microchip shortage, and you have an idea of the massive challenges that faced Waymo’s Andressa Teixeira the past two years.
In her role at Waymo, the AV division of Google parent Alphabet, Teixeira leads a team tasked with estimating demand, sourcing and allocating resources throughout the company’s supply chain. This includes everything from board-level assembly to mechanical fabrications to vehicle integration.
Teixeira also oversees and maintains all material planning processes to ensure the stability and efficiency of Waymo’s operational production.
“We have thousands of parts across our warehouses, manufacturing sites and depots that need to show up at the correct quantity, place and on time,” she said.
That job became much more difficult during the pandemic, as Teixeira’s team worked to manage supply chain challenges that were compounded by semiconductor shortages.
“Supply chain strains and mass semiconductor shortages forced our team to think bigger and creatively come up with solutions,” Teixeira said.
Those included identifying the lead times of each component that goes into Waymo’s self-driving system and procuring them early enough. They also involved devising innovative ways to overcome allocation obstacles, such as finding alternative replacement parts to ensure Waymo vehicles had critical equipment.
“It’s very exciting to me to come up with creative solutions for supply chain and pioneer materials planning processes for a breakthrough industry of autonomous vehicles,” she said.
As the AV industry has been whittled to a half-dozen companies, maintaining momentum is essential.
“I am incredibly proud that in spite of supply chain challenges posed by the pandemic, our team continued to meet our goals, deliver products and meet the demand without significant delay,” said Teixeira.
Even with contract manufacturers and Waymo vehicle integration facilities closed and the company unable to receive shipments, Teixeira’s team was able to craft workarounds. These included sourcing 600-plus different parts from around the world and consolidating them at logistics hubs near Waymo’s manufacturing sites so that they were ready once production resumed.
“Waymo’s mission is to help people and things get where they are going,” Teixeira said. “As our team grows and we continue to deploy the Waymo Driver [autonomous driving technology] across a myriad of opportunities — from ride-hailing, local delivery, to long-haul trucking — managing materials planning remains an exciting and important opportunity for my team.”
— Doug Newcomb