Many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers choose to partner with Imperial. We successfully assist our automotive clients to overcome challenges that include exacting timelines, uncompromising quality, increasing complexity in vehicles at higher volumes and continuous cost pressures.
We have a deep understanding of the repetitive and synchronised nature of the automotive industry, and have successfully combined the two vital automotive logistics elements of integration and synchronisation to deliver unmatched solutions. The automotive industry has been one of the industries that has constantly continued to intensify the demands placed on logistics companies for many years; and it was also partly responsible for establishing innovative logistics concepts in the 1990s with the just-in-time (JIT) and just-in-sequence (JIS) principles for production supplies. We have been highly successful in this sector as an automotive logistics partner for almost exactly the same period of time. We currently work alongside clients in the automotive sectors in South Africa, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, China and the United Kingdom.
Obsessed with process discipline
Our broad capabilities in the automotive logistics sector range from diverse transport offerings to every aspect of warehousing and distribution, and comprehensive contract logistics solutions. Our exceptional value-added services encompass process and systems design and integration; facility layout and establishment; resource planning and management; CKD handling; empty container management and return shipment; and customs clearance.
What differentiates Imperial from competitors in this challenging environment is our obsession with time and process discipline – both of which are encoded in our design and implementation methodologies, operational process management and enabling systems. This creates a repetitive, straightforward, quality and trusted system for our clients.
One of the key differentiators of the automotive logistics solutions supplied by Imperial over the medium and longer term is the continuous improvement philosophy built into our management model and practices. By continually analysing deviations in each process step every day, and systematically adjusting the standardised process to include the new better way, the opportunity for improvement never stops. Imperial has the knowledge, expertise and experience to make improvements at process level (process Kaizen) as well as at supply chain level (system Kaizen).
People, process and technology
Our unique, highly efficient, sustainable solutions for automotive clients incorporate the key components of people, process and technology. In this demanding industry, quality control processes need tight integration in order to limit over, short and incorrect supply, and damages to parts. We know that the effectiveness – and related costs – of quality control from a lean manufacturing perspective is determined by three principles: time to detect defect, time to correct defect, and the quality of corrective action.
We have vast experience in developing and implementing quality assurance processes that ensure these three principles are optimised. Each process we implement has built into the standardised work steps a confirmation of the quality of the process (self-check and self-report). This is followed by a focussed reconfirmation at the next process step. The sooner the defect is detected, the faster and cheaper the solution.
Visualisation of automotive logistics processes
Visualisation is vital to ensure awareness by all personnel. Direct measurement of personal performance on the quality aspects of the function is required for each employee. When a defect is detected downstream, a red indicator needs to be applied at the source process. Re-confirmation of the affected process is required before the red indicator is removed. Applying the red indicator encourages added support and focus from leadership.
We understand the need for comprehensive training and implementation programmes to systematically involve all processes and all staff in the quality assurance process. If the support and buy-in of all people is not achieved, the quality network will break down. The objective of the Imperial quality network in our automotive solutions is to achieve zero defect flow to the customer.
Taking automotive logistics from good to great
We work with automotive industry clients to instil a culture of continuous improvement, where everybody contributes to the process of problem identification, root cause analysis, and process improvements. We use visual shop floor management techniques, coupled with disciplined Gemba reviews, as a vehicle for step-by-step improvements to take our clients’ operations from good to great. Our strategic approach to the automotive supply chain ensures that, from the bottom up, standardised conditions and standardised work in all aspects of shop floor and office operations are achieved.
A critical area in which we have specialised is the synchronisation of demand signals with the entire fulfilment process, whether from an automotive production line or dealership. The synchronisation is simplified and encoded first within the design, then the repetitive execution of processes and systems in order to require minimum manual intervention. Our specialist competencies are evident in our unrivalled ability to design, implement and manage lean logistics solutions for the automotive inbound supply chain.