Certifications: Shortcut to the Supply ChainSat, 09/01/2018 - 11:27
An integrated supply chain is crucial if the automotive industry is to have greater resilience, profitability and flexibility, but client companies require that suppliers implement quality management systems and get certifications to ensure smooth production processes, says Omar Carrera, Co-founder and Director General of Dukke Consultores. “Companies’ certification priorities depend on what a client wants and what the company’s position inside the value chain is,” he says. “Every OEM and Tier 1 has its own personality.”
Aside from common automotive certifications such as IATF, VDA or ISO, OEMs usually require their suppliers to comply with customer-specific requirements. He points out that Tier 3 and Tier 4 automotive companies are either noncertified or certified with ISO, Tier 2 companies are virtually all certified unless it is a greenfield project and it is almost compulsory for Tier 1 companies to hold a VDA or IATF.
Dukke Consultores cites its knowledge of the labor market, cultural challenges and the profiles of OEMs as its main added value. Carrera says this enables the firm to efficiently guide clients in implementing quality management systems and to deliver satisfaction. “We participate in several sectors including government, education, health, services and commerce but manufacturing is the strongest,” he says, “Eighty percent of our projects are in this sector and half of that percentage is in automotive.” Carrera explains that Dukke Consultores often works with Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies. With businesses newly arriving to Mexico, Dukke Consultores helps by tropicalizing their quality-management systems. “Some companies have their headquarters in other countries and they already have a system,” says Carrera. “We help the local company customize it.” The consulting firm can also help companies develop a quality-control system from scratch. “We enter as support for a knowledge-transfer model so that companies understand what they need for ISO, IATF or other customer-specific requirements,” he says.
The firm also has a supply chain division and it is an authorized distribution partner of APICS, an American company that develops practical courses on logistics. “Production-line issues are the next area of concern for OEMs after quality control,” says Carrera. Trouble on an OEM’s production line is usually due to suppliers not shipping on time, not reporting when they are low on stock or when their machines have broken down or because they do not know how to handle inventories or properly plan their production, he adds.
According to Carrera says the most common concerns among manufacturers that are about to enter the automotive supply chain are the many requirements and steep fines that can be leveled by OEMs. “Automakers charge a lot when you stop their plant,” he says. “But there are structures, insurance, processes and filters to prevent this.” Carrera enumerates customer-specific requirements as another key concern for suppliers. “Ford has Q1, while Volkswagen and Audi have Formel Q, for instance.” While certifications are important for the automotive supply chain, Carrera says some clients may ask their suppliers not to certify to prevent a rise in costs. “It is necessary to raise prices to place a structure in place that can meet all requirements,” he says. “Many businesspeople wonder how to grow their companies and that is achieved through quality-management systems.”
Carrera recognizes that some suppliers are ineligible for certifications because their projects are not yet mature. “For instance, IATF requires 12 months of quality-system use. A company that does not comply with this and other requirements cannot be certified, which is why companies usually start with ISO 9001 and then migrate to other certifications.”
On the side of engineering and design, Carrera says that Mexican companies that want to engage in these activities must employ good practices and consider three factors: cost per hour of engineering, time efficiency and effectiveness and quality of what is being engineered. He underlines that there are two kinds of design: that in which a local company owns the design and that in which the company works as a design maquila. “We need to migrate ownership to the local design center,” says Carrera.