60 second interview: Rainer Kühlwein, Briggs Automotive Company (BAC)

Posted on 1 Jun 2015 by Callum Bentley

The Manufacturer speaks with Rainer Kühlwein, director of Briggs Automotive Company (BAC).

You started with BAC in 2010, how has the organisation developed since you joined?

Rainer Kühlwein, Briggs Automotive Company (BAC)
Rainer Kühlwein, director, Briggs Automotive Company (BAC).

At the beginning is was literally Neill and Ian Briggs together with myself and just two more people. Since then we have involved a few senior people from the automotive industry, motorsport and finance to join BAC and mixed it up with highly motivated young professionals to establish a management and operations Team.

We have developed the supply chain with 100 active suppliers, defined and implemented quality standards internally and with the suppliers, established material management and logistics, as well as, implemented a standardised order management and build process, which has reduced the production lead time from more than eight months for the first car, down to five weeks, ramping up the volume from three cars to 50 a year.

What have been the challenges and successes since the relocation from South Liverpool 18 months ago?

Getting the building in working order including showroom, office, workshop, warehouse, assembly area, IT, communication etc., with a limited budget and managing people and operations at the same time when business and complexity is more or less exploding, was a massive challenge.

BAC Mono (Image by Tom Ziora, www.tomziora.com)
BAC Mono, a lightweight, ultra high performance, road legal supercar (Image courtesy of www.tomziora.com).

We were successful to get everything in place, phase in more than 20 new staff, ramp up production volume, get service and aftersales started. We received full support from the Mayor of Liverpool and his team, the City Council and Liverpool Vision and could establish BAC Mono as an ambassador for the cities global campaign It’s Liverpool.

BAC endeavour to stay ahead of the curve in innovation, is the firm achieving this and how?

We have the advantage of being small and flexible enough to make quick management decisions and develop and implement innovation faster than bigger players, at the moment mainly in the form of new technical features and options regarding performance, safety and visual individualisation.

We started a bespoke programme where we offer our customers a made-to-measure seat based on a patented technology and a steering wheel that uses, for the first time a 3D printing process to provide a customer specific perfect grip. We can achieve this through cooperation with best-of-class and highly innovative suppliers, as well as, institutes like the Virtual Engineering Center.

How localised is the organisation’s supply chain and how easy is it to achieve? What happens in an instance where no one can supply the components needed or locally sourced suppliers are not up to standard?

BAC PQToday BAC is sourcing 95% from UK based suppliers, 25-30% of this volume is already coming from the wider Liverpool/ Manchester region or at least the Northwest of the UK. We are permanently screening regional suppliers and trying to help them to build up skills, quality standards and capacity.

Through continuous shared planning and forecasting and long-term order coverage we help some of our major suppliers to secure significant additional funding for staff and new machinery. For every job we are creating inside BAC we are creating two to three in our supply chain and through long-term cooperation our suppliers can grow with us.

What has been your proudest moment with the company to date?

Two moments actually stand out for me. One was when BAC could demonstrate the performance level of Mono with The Stig setting a stunning time of 1.14.3, making it the second fastest road car ever over the Top Gear track! And the other one was the successful customer handover of a Mono at the end of the International Festival of Business 2014, which has been built on the BAC show stand throughout the Festival.