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How to maintain a high-quality in the automotive supply service? We talked about it with Faurecia

20 Nov 2019

Establish and maintain a network of competent suppliers and inspire them to improve their capabilities: these are the objectives of Faurecia Supplier Quality and Development team. We talked about it with Mr. Yan, SQD Engineer of the T&E department

Since years, “outsourcing” has been a sort of magic word to the Automotive Industry: OEMs assign entire projects – at all stages – to the tier suppliers: design, style, engineering, development of the process itself… all phases are entirely managed by tier suppliers. This is because, from the costs point of view, for OEMs is more convenient relying on external suppliers, who, working for different customers, are more effective in managing capacity and payback time of plants.

In this way the process is more efficient but, at the same time, the creation of the value and therefore of the product itself (and of its quality) is entrusted to the suppliers.

As a consequence, quality control from OEMs down to the supply chain becomes extremely important to make sure the best products are delivered to the market. OEMs have implemented and deepened the controls on their tier suppliers. And the latter have been structuring themselves to evaluate and control their suppliers of goods, raw materials and machinery, in such a way to create a virtuous and lasting relationship with them, which can be a guarantee of quality.

Faurecia, one of the 10 largest automotive companies, is one of the first tier-one which masters the challenges posed by the automotive market and has established and implemented a department dedicated to the analysis, evaluation and enhancement (understood as support to development) of its suppliers. This is the activity of the SQD (Supplier Quality and Development) team.

faurecialogo and cannon

Faurecia in numbers

  • 1 in 3 vehicles in the world are equipped with a Faurecia technology
  • 4 Business Groups: Clean Mobility, Seating, Interiors, Clarion Electronics
  • 122.000 employees working in 37 countries
  • 8,300 engineers in 35 R&D centers
  • 17.5 billion of sales turnover

Faurecia is leading Automotive technology company which develops solutions for Sustainable Mobility and the Cockpit of the Future.

Recently, we met Jonathan Yan, Supplier Quality & Development Engineer of the T&E department, who told us about the approach Faurecia is taking about quality control, sustainability and support to development of suppliers.

Cannon News: Hello Jonhatan Jonathan, and thank you for giving us this interview. Let’s talk about the SQD team: when and why has been established?

Jonathan Yan: “First, let me say that SQD is the acronym of Supplier Quality and Development, that means that our target is to create and maintain a network of competent suppliers, helping them to improve their capabilities in order to ensure their performance as suppliers. The team was born in 2015, following a series of repetitive crisis we were facing in the tooling & equipment department (in the Interiors Business Group), mainly related with injection tool maker suppliers. I’m talking about specifications not respected, or important delays in delivery…; so, the team, which at the beginning counted three people, has been founded to address and avoid this kind of risks”.

CN: And now? How is the SQD team organized and which are its targets?

JY: “Now the SQD team is part of commodity organization in Faurecia Interiors Business Group. Driven by Stéphane Sicard, today the team has evolved and counts 5 people assigned to five different geographical area: Europe, of which I deal with, India – Korea – Thailand – Japan, China and North & South America. We audit our suppliers regionally, but the whole SQD organization is a global way to manage all different suppliers. As for the targets, from the simple avoiding potential risks coming from suppliers, the concepts have been extended: currently the SQD department deals with creating a winning, virtuous and long-lasting relationship with its partners, helping them to improve under various aspects, as the efficiency of production and, more generally, of their organization or their communication. In this way the supplier will improve its performance, we will have a better guarantee of receiving a high-quality product and we will be able to provide a competitive panel of suppliers to commodity buyers”.

CN: You said that the auditing is regional. Do you audit also by technology?

JY: “No, the SQD does not follow the technical matters, but focuses on the process of the suppliers: for every geographical region, our team checks the supplier’s overall management system [organizazion, organisation, capabilities and skills of suppliers, ed.] , highlighting any critical issues and deciding the activities to be carried on with the suppliers to overcome these weakness points. So, we manage suppliers working with different technologies in the automotive components production process: injection, assembly, special machines, acoustic…”.

CN: How do you decide which company have to be audit?

JY: “Due to the limited resources and the high costs of an assessment, we have to be efficient. So, we have developed an internal review of priority of the suppliers needing to be assessed and, every 6 months, a “commodity panel” reviews the pool of suppliers in order to give priority to the assessments”.

CN: And what happen after the assessment?

JY: “The assessment is the first step to know the strong and the weak points of our suppliers. After the audit, we assign the supplier a score: 75 is the target in an assessment. The companies with a similar score have a low level of risks, while the ones with lower score require our attention and will be a priority in the future assessments.
Then, suppliers are requested to give to us a feedback and an action plan. The PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) document released by the supplier helps us to understand which areas the supplier needs to improve and how Faurecia can help him: we support our suppliers in this improvement, providing them courses, trainings, workshops and coaching to solve some critical situations. To strategic suppliers, we are also introducing the lean manufacturing concept through a dedicated workshop. We propose these activities as a way to strengthen our suppliers’ skills. We would like to inspire them.”

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a systematic method of production based on a no waste philosophy: all the wastes are minimized in order to be eliminated, without sacrificing the productivity.

CN: It is very interesting that, as you said, you may provide also activity of coaching with your suppliers to help them to solve some critical situation. What do you do, exactly?

JY:“Our coaching for suppliers is mainly about problem solving methodology. In Faurecia we are implementing the QRCI, the Quick Response Continuous Improvement, with which we help the supplier to better understand the customer needs and also to detect potential internal problems of organization. This methodology teaches them how to avoid a similar risky issue to be happened next time happen again. Of course, if a supplier has a delivery problem once in a while, this situation is not deemed critical. For us, recurrent issues are the that which require attention. This is a sort of philosophy, if you like: the idea is to share some good practices. ”

CN: Which are the areas you deem most important in your assessment of suppliers?

JY:“Assessment questionnaire is the same for all the suppliers and is organized in different chapters, in logical order from Organization and Management to CE regulations, passing through the PMS (program management system), the Design, the organization of the deliveries, sales and after-sales organization…
We have some specific chapters on which we focus most. The first for us is the HSE (Health Safety Environment): it is very important, because it concerns safety. If a supplier works in no safety conditions, it impacts not only on its own image, but also on our image: we take care about sustainability and a supplier who does not have a good HSE management cannot be accepted. The second point we pay attention to is the SCR (Social Corporate Responsibility): is about how a company takes care of its employees. In this field, EcoVadis [the platform which provides Sustainability Ratings for global sustainable procurements] helps us to evaluate the suppliers, to give them a score. The third thing is the CE regulations and directives: all the machines must respect the norms and we need to be sure how suppliers manage the machines regulations in order to avoid safety issue. Otherwise we could refuse the acceptance of the equipment before being supplied.
And the last point we focus on is the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) management: it is a very important indicator and the heaviest part of the assessment. For us, it is important in terms of continuous improvement: our efforts are to inspire our suppliers to implement how KPI are managed. Because KPIs can bring added value to the supplier company. ”

Faurecia and Cannon

CN: Why have you chosen EcoVadis for the SCR evaluation?

JY :“We believe that by acting responsibly, we can create long term value for all our stakeholders. In 2012, we decided to deploy our convictions and values to the supply chain. We needed a partner to support us with their experience and able to address an international supply base working in many countries, addressing many languages, in various activities and company size. We also wanted this partner being recognized by some of our customers and applying an assessment based on the 3 pillars of sustainability of ISO 26000. It’s for these reasons that we chose EcoVadis, of which Faurecia is today Gold Medal.”

CN: We have mentioned sustainability several times: how important is this value for Faurecia?

JY: “Sustainability is the core of Faurecia’s policy and it is a value which the company shares with their customer: we think that acting responsibly is the key to ensure the sustainable development of our ecosystem for future generations, and also a long-term value creation for stakeholders and suppliers. For these reasons in 2005 we signed the global compact and we have chosen EcoVadis as a partner. Last year, we have been awarded with the EcoVadis Sustainable Procurement Leadership Award for the global excellence of our “Buy Beyond” procurement program. It is based on four fundamentals of the ISO 26000 international standard for procurement: protecting the environment, respecting human and labor rights, ethical business conduct and sharing best practices across the Group’s global supply chain. Sustainability, respect, innovation and partnership are key concepts in our DNA”.

CN: Which will be the future developments of the SQD team?

JY: “First, the plan is to extend in the future, step by step, the range of SQD to the other business units of Faurecia: we will restrict the pool of suppliers, carrying forward only those with whom it will be possible to have a long-term relationship.
The selection will be based on these assessments,  for the future of SQD project, for sure we will keep the same philosophy of quality development ( organisation, management, transparent, communication…) but we will add new coaching like Lean Manufacturing, Hoshin, Kaizen in order to introduce the request from global business constraint :”The Efficiency”.

CN: Last year Cannon went through your audit: from our point of view, your assessment is an effective help to work in a proper way according to not only the tier-one requirements, but also that of the automotive industry in general. From Faurecia point of view, what was the most remarkable outcome about Cannon?

JY: “We have been very happy to live this assessment experience with Cannon: all Cannon departments and people involved in this activity have put efforts to disclose and exchange all the information. In term of management organization, I’ve been surprised by your HSE quality management system: a very regular risk assessment is in place, with KPI indicators to track the performance of the production plant. Furthermore, your internal audit is very well implemented: you have 26 qualified internal auditors focused on different business branches. So you are able to make sure that there are no potential risks to your customers. For us, this is a very important double control system. From my point of view, Cannon takes care of their employees’ health and the management organization is efficient.

Continuous improvement is a keyword in Cannon attitude: in order to keep a quality excellence of its products and to match the highest requirement of the market, Cannon has implemented its safety management, quality control, quality risk management and safety risk management systems, in place since years.

Cannon is certified:

  • UNI EN ISO 90001 since 1997
  • OHSAS 18001:2007 since 2012
  • PED 2014/68/EU

The company is also certified by EcoVadis.