The globalisation of the automotive industry has brought with it a number of supply chain related issues, not least of which is how to ensure a consistent standard of vehicle production for any market in the world.
Although developing a global vehicle platform brings significant cost reductions relating to the development of more than one vehicle off the same platform, it also means that it becomes easier to introduce standardised parts across more vehicles. Volkswagen’s new strategy is a case in point, involving essentially four core architectures underpinning models from most of the group’s brands. Other OEMs are keen to pursue a similar approach to realise significant cost savings, especially when procuring common parts or needing to enter new market segments quickly.
In the industry’s haste to introduce common platforms, are short cuts being taken, especially with regards to the procurement of common parts?
But in the industry’s haste to introduce common platforms, are short cuts being taken, especially with regards to the procurement of common parts? Are manufacturers focusing on what they can do with common platforms rather than on ensuring that high quality common parts are included in their overall designs? The risk of high volume vehicle recalls increases in line with the increased use of common parts or sub-systems, such as a steering rack, being across ten different vehicles as part of a common platform strategy. If the steering rack fails for any reason then, in this example, ten different vehicle types could be impacted. The resultant multi-brand recall would have a major impact on consumer confidence and reduced satisfaction levels with the car brand concerned.
The risk of high volume vehicle recalls increases in line with the increased use of common parts or sub-systems, such as a steering rack, being across ten different vehicles as part of a common platform strategy
Parts reliability is thus crucial to the success of today’s global vehicle platform strategies. The need for higher quality parts puts added pressure on the entire automotive supply chain to raise quality standards, which in turn requires time and money to improve quality control procedures.
Global vehicle platforms and architectures are certainly here to stay, and OEMs must ensure they work more closely with their entire supply base to ensure quality standards are met in terms of component supply. For global vehicle platform strategies to succeed, OEMs must be better engaged with their supply base to ensure the supply of high quality, reliable components, and just as crucial – or even more importantly -consumer satisfaction must not be impacted in any way. Failing to improve supplier engagement could lead to further quality issues which damages brand reputation and ultimately leads to lower vehicle sales.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Mark Morley is Automotive Director at GXS.
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