I was very surprised the day I received a call telling me that I was the person selected for a job position on an automotive company.
I worked for the IT department and after a few weeks on my new job, my boss told me: “Today you are going to visit the shop floor”. As soon as we entered the plant, I felt like a child on Christmas day, I was amazed by all the robots and the AGV (automated guided vehicles) running around; I remember thinking to myself that I was on the Transformers’ film set. I just couldn’t believe that it will be my new life!
After 4 years I’ve learnt so much, and today I want to share some of these things with you.
1. Quality saves time and money
The automotive industry is a sector that has many regulations and quality controls. That is why the traceability of all parts and production process’ details are recorded.
Thus, if an incident is reported due to a part defect, all vehicles that carry a part from the same batch will be recovered (they may already be in dealers or even worse, in the hands of the customers), in order to replace the affected part, and then returning the unit to their owner.
This inadvertence may imply a high economic impact for the company, because sometimes the problems cannot be fixed at the local dealers and the vehicle must be returned to the plant where it was manufactured.
In addition to the economic impact, this issue also affects the brand perception, which may negatively affect product sales, therefore increasing the economic loss.
2. Promoting continuous improvement is fundamental
The automotive sector is an area that usually requires a very high investment for its operation, so profit margins are usually quite tight (at least for the non-luxury segment companies). Therefore, it is constantly seeking to optimize processes with a focus on cost reduction, without affecting the quality of the products.
Cleverness, innovation, and creativity are promoted to challenge the status quo through continual review and improvement of products and processes, usually using known methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma!
3. The goal is not making cars but to sell them
One of my colleagues told me a phrase that I will never forget: "The people believe that our business is to manufacture cars, but they are wrong, our business is to sell cars."
This is a concept as simple as real, no matter the nature of your business: automotive, software development, content creation, pharmaceuticals, etc. Your business is not about making the products, your business is about the selling the product. If your products are not sold, the rest will barely matter, your company will not be profitable.
4. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
I have always heard this proverb, and I have never seen this concept as clearly as in an automotive company.
In an automotive company where parts are so many and the space is limited, it is necessary to reduce inventories to the bare minimum and optimize processes, in order to guarantee a couple of hours of production and nothing more.
Any problem that affects this flow: lack of material, traffic jams, a shipment delay, an information systems incident, a manufacturing line failure or the absence of some employees can cause the production line to stop.
5. Innovation will guarantee survival
Every day there are more and more restrictions to the automotive sector because of environmental policies, the promotion of public transportation and the difficult access of private cars to the centre of the main cities.
I had the opportunity to do a training for the industry of the future and what is coming is amazing, with the introduction of concepts such as artificial intelligence, BigData, augmented reality, additive printing, the internet of things, blockchain, among others, they will take the industry to a new level of productivity and connection; improving the registration, monitoring and predictive maintenance of machinery, facilitating the location of inventory in wide spaces, analyzing the influence of environmental factors on the lifespan of robots, generating prototypes with more agility and at lower costs, improving ergonomics for the workers and many more uses that we do not yet know and that will surely come in the coming years.
With thanks - this article was written by Elena C. Mata S.