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Driven by efficiency
30/09/2006 | Channel:
A stable and committed global supply base is proving vital to GETRAG FORD Transmissions’ ongoing success
February 1st 2001 marked the birth of GETRAG FORD Transmissions, a company formed from a 50 per cent joint venture between the transmission specialist, GETRAG and Ford Motor Company. The purpose of the joint venture was to combine the strengths of both partners in the field of manual transmissions. In order to give the joint venture the best possible chances of business success, the parent companies contributed skilled personnel, a state-ofthe- art product development centre, production plants and the necessary know-how and capital.
Since its foundation, the company has won several new customers, including Mazda,Volvo, Land Rover and Daimler Chrysler, combining its strengths and resources in order to ensure that this positive development is maintained. Operating internationally, GETRAG FORD Transmissions has sites in Cologne (Germany), Bordeaux (France),Halewood (UK) and Gothenburg (Sweden).
Since 1 June 2006 GETRAG FORD Transmissions and GETRAG Group have united their experience and competence in the GETRAG Corporate Group and the umbrella brand GETRAG. As vicepresident of Direct Purchasing for the entire GETRAG Corporate Group, Sascha Mierbach is ideally placed to describe the organisation's operations and supply chain strategy.
He begins: “GETRAG Corporate Group is one of the largest system suppliers for transmission and drivetrain systems worldwide. It covers the entire process chain from the idea via concept, prototypes, vehicle integration and testing all the way up to mass production including all engineering services.
“The group has a broad product portfolio ranging from tried and tested manual transmissions, automated manual transmissions, dual clutch transmissions, hybrid systems to power take-off units, axle differentials and intelligent AWD systems. Furthermore it offers engine timing gear systems.”
Discussing how the company’s supply chain operations are organised, Sascha continues: “Our focus is clearly on global competitiveness in our supply chain. GETRAG has developed a global purchasing organisation to maintain global supply knowledge and purchasing decisions are made on a total cost base. This not only includes material but also packaging, freight, duty tax, etc.”
As with many of the world’s major manufacturers, GETRAG is now sourcing more and more of its parts on a global basis. “As a globally acting company you have to have global contracts, which enable the organisation to buy from any supplier within the supply base,” confirms Sascha.
In-line with this, establishing long-term relationships with suppliers is also regarded as key to the success of the Group. “GETRAG is developing and manufacturing transmissions and axles on mid and high volume programs. These products have quite a substantial life time and increasingly get carried over into the following vehicle cycle. This requires a stable and committed supply base, which can only be achieved with the willingness of both partners to work together for a long time,” he adds.
As a result of these close relationships with the supply base, the global competitiveness of its partners is extremely important to GETRAG. “The market pressure is increasing every day and our purchasing organisation communicates this to our suppliers and helps them to become more competitive,” comments Sascha. “GETRAG is almost exclusively working in long-term agreements, only in those cases where we have not been successful in closing identified gaps in cost competitiveness, quality or delivery performance will we exit the business.”
Initial selection of these suppliers is therefore crucial and GETRAG focuses on three primary factors when going through this process - supply quality, delivery performance and competitiveness. In addition to this, more and more of the company's suppliers are becoming involved in the product development stage as the business looks to devise more cost efficient solutions going forward.
In this never-ending quest for efficiency IT has a significant part to play and is important to GETRAG's purchasing organisation in gaining efficiencies and improving communication with its suppliers. “Unfortunately the IT environment is different from customer to customer, which means that suppliers have to work in different environments. That applies to GETRAG as a Tier 1 supplier as well as to our suppliers who are working for more than one customer. But I am sure that these technologies will migrate closer in the future and will not be that cost intensive either,” he says.
Purchasing efficiencies do not end with the IT environment and GETRAG is investing heavily in its employee qualifications to gain efficiencies, as Sascha explains: “I believe that the mixture of motivated employees, empowerment, business processes and partnership with our suppliers are key enablers of our lean purchasing organisation. In GETRAG we are setting business targets to further improve our efficiencies.We are analysing cost breakdowns and manufacturing processes jointly with our suppliers in order to achieve the best efficiencies possible.”
In terms of recent developments for the business, it is certainly a busy time for all at GETRAG. The company is currently focusing heavily on its dual-clutch transmission development, where shift quality is vastly enhanced and gears are arranged in pairs so that the next speed is selected load-free, while torque continues to be transmitted via the prior pair of gears.With the transmission market in Europe and North America becoming increasingly interested in this product, dual-clutch transmissions will be a core focus for the business going forward.
In addition, GETRAG has also established a new production site in Slovakia, which will start the manufacture of motorcycle transmissions by the end of the year, and has recently announced a joint-venture in China with Jiangling Motor Company Group (JMCG). This will see GETRAG take a two-thirds share in a transmission operation with three plants and 2400 employees. The new company called GETRAG (Jiangxi) Transmissions Co. Ltd. will produce some 240,000 transmissions and more than one million transmission components p.a. for the Chinese market.
GETTRAG FORD Transmissions GmbH