Sequencing operations in auto manufacturing

As consumer demand for greater product variation, availability of parts; and quality components increases, automotive manufacturers and their suppliers are looking for innovative solutions to ensure that their business can compete in the global marketplace. Bill Bacon – MD of Automotive at DHL Supply Chain UK – reviews the process of sequencing operations that many manufacturers are turning to, to ensure an efficient, smooth running process.

Bill Bacon, MD of Automotive, DHL Supply Chain UK.
Bill Bacon, MD of Automotive, DHL Supply Chain UK.

The automotive sector is in a period of significant growth for the manufacturing industry. In April 2015, figures published by SMMT found a 1.9% increase in productivity, the most impressive figures since 2006.

As the sector grows and manufacturers expand into new markets, inevitably they face a new set of challenges.

To ensure that assembly lines run as efficiently and smoothly as possible, manufacturers and their tier suppliers are increasingly turning to new solutions, such as more flexible sequencing operations as part of their inbound to manufacturing (I2M) networks.

Such operations can help enable manufacturers to combat industry challenges, meeting the increased consumer demand for greater product variation, availability of products, and quality of parts. With the industry rapidly expanding, it’s vital that manufacturers stay ahead in the competitive marketplace and make their mark: in order to do so, these demands must be met.

For manufacturers who fail to meet the demands of consumers and ensure that their products are of the highest quality, there can be heavy financial losses and negative reputational impact.

In 2002 Honda introduced new, rapidly deploying side curtain airbag that protects vehicle occupants from head and neck injuries in the event of a side collision - image courtesy of Honda.
Faulty airbags made by Takata have resulted in 21m global vehicle recalls since 2008 from brands including Nissan, Toyota and Honda.

In Japan, Honda recently announced that its fiscal-year net profit fell 8.9% as a result of soaring recall costs. When safety is in question, such recalls can impact significantly on the brand’s reputation and have a long-term effect.

Alone, it can be difficult to for manufacturers to manage consumers’ demands, ensuring that parts remain of a high standard while producing enough units to satisfy market demand.

Increasingly, more manufacturers are seeking advice on how to combat these industry wide challenges, considering new solutions that can improve the efficiency of operations while creating products that will differentiate their brand in the market.

A partnership with a third party logistics (3PL) provider, who can help manage the critical I2M element of their operations, is a step towards achieving these efficiencies.

One aspect of I2M operations is sequencing – a process which helps to improve the efficiency of a manufacturer’s production facilities and address the demand for consumer product variation.

Engineering Automotive Line Stock Image
Managing parts’ availability against production schedules as far in advance as possible and with flexibility can be a challenge.

Managing parts’ availability against production schedules as far in advance as possible and with as much flexibility up until the final assembly of the product is a challenge for automotive manufacturers and their tier suppliers, particularly with the regional, or even global, sourcing of parts.

Manufacturers, who are able to manage availability in this way, can offer a wider choice of product to consumers, while ensuring that their product remains of the highest quality.

Sequencing parts in a flexible and efficient way enables manufacturers to improve their assembly line operations and meet demand.

DHL Supply Chain has recently been credited with an award winning solution to improve the efficiencies of a leading premium car manufacturer that support the assembly process.

The solution – which sequences parts to the point of fit, rather than presenting non–sequenced parts to the facility – has reduced the space required line-side at manufacturing plants and created an increasingly efficient production line.

These operations continually manage the increase in derivatives (parts sequenced) brought about by the OEM while at the same time improve productivity in the sequencing centre. By having the facility located off site it has allowed the OEM to utilize valuable real estate space required for other operations.

DHL Supply Chain
Partnering with a 3PL provider, who can help manage the critical I2M element of operations, can be a step forward.

With an ever-growing market and the need for manufacturers to differentiate themselves, solutions such as the sequencing operations are becoming increasingly important.

With productivity increasing, manufacturers should be aware of new ways to meet challenging consumer demands. Incorporating sequencing into operations or partnering with a logistics provider who can advise on innovative solutions that will not only improve operations but will provide significant benefits.