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Tier 1 Automotive Supplier

Manufacturing in Motion: An Auto Supplier Picks Up Speed with Digitization

21st century manufacturing is a global landscape, one where speed and mobility are required to compete successfully. But for suppliers who still rely on paper-based and manual processes, keeping up with the pack can be tough.

This was the challenge faced by a Global Tier 1 automotive supplier. As a manufacturer of interior and exterior auto trim products and components such as central consoles, arm rests, and roof systems, the company’s products were in international demand. But to succeed in markets worldwide, the automotive supplier needed to compete with other suppliers who were best-in-class in a number of ways – from time to market to remote capabilities to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Unlocking the right competitive advantage required one key: implementing the right software to digitize and automate product-centric processes and product-centric document management.

The Need for Speed

Before they searched for a solution, the automotive supplier’s leaders took stock of their most urgent challenges. Manual workflows were slowing them down, such as engineering change requests that involved painfully long approval cycles. The team depended on Microsoft Office applications like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint to manage multiple documents – an arrangement that just wasn’t sophisticated enough to keep pace with their growth. Even a basic manufacturing design change might involve bringing 20 or more people into one conference room to review and sign a document. With ten or more departments signing off on engineering changes, approval cycles also typically involved multiple follow-up emails and phone calls, as well as delays when an approver was out of the office.

A more specific need involved APQP: Advanced Product Quality Planning. This framework is critical for global suppliers to follow, and the supplier’s manual processes made meeting the standards tedious.

They wanted a cost-effective solution to primarily focus on enhanced capabilities such as Part Master management, BOM management, product-centric process automation, and product-centric document management. The supplier also wanted a solution that would complement Teamcenter, a solution they used and liked for their design engineering processes but found too complex and expensive to use outside of engineering.

This list of criteria led them to consider several solutions. They ultimately choose PRO.FILE – known for its ability to smoothly automate processes in a variety of different areas, such as quality assurance, engineering, production, manufacturing, purchasing and others.

The Agility Advantage

Once the automotive supplier adopted PRO.FILE, the benefits were immediate. They found the solution was tailor-made to achieve the APQP standards that had challenged them before. Now they could easily meet those global standards, further cementing their status as a Tier 1 supplier. The product-centric process automation also liberated them from using Microsoft Office applications to manage and document their processes.

The team noticed several immediate benefits in engineering change management. All information was centralized – something that helped eliminate mistakes, improve version control, and ensured different teams always worked from the most current and correct data. With radically fewer errors in play, production was right the first time, further accelerating their time to market.

The solution also expedited their approval process. Instead of physically requiring everyone to be in the same room at the same time, the electronic signature process allowed approvers to review and sign from wherever they were, whenever their approval was needed – which kept projects moving forward. The mobile app was especially popular with the teams, as they could stay up to date on all projects and changes no matter where they were working or traveling. With many of their staff working from home at least some of the time, the company was able to align their remote work initiatives with their accelerated engineering workflows – ultimately increasing responsiveness and productivity.

Cost Savings, Customer Satisfaction

As they continue using PRO.FILE, the supplier has found the faster time to market, and simplified processes have especially helped them satisfy the ongoing customer pressure to improve. Their TCO is significantly less as well, and now they’ve decided to implement SAP as their ERP system in 2022. It’s a strong foundation for a future that will continue to become more digitized – and a springboard for their continued success.