James Seevers, CIO & GM, Toyoda Gosei
Cars! To many people, the word conjures memories of freedom, raw power, and the first purchase we were able to afford as we started off on our own life, separate from our parents. Technology was not something we were concerned with. Fast forward to the present -technology has become interwoven with the very fabric of cars. No longer is the consumer satisfied with the mere notion of travelling somewhere; now each person behind the wheel of a car desires to have any and all amenities with them as they cruise throughout the day. This need for the luxuries, comfort and hi-tech environments has created a need for cars and technology to be so interwoven one can no longer be seen as separate from the other.
Cars are expected to be fuel efficient, yet powerful; full of the very latest in electronics, yet simple to operate. Standard comforts that heightens the appeal to the consumer, yet does not increase the cost. This goal is the pinnacle towards which each car manufacturer is strivingto reach. Technology integrated into the very fabric of the car has become the method of choice for answering the clarion call of the consumer’s desire for price, comfort and ease of driving. Today, technology is being used in every process of the automotive industry. From the supplier to the car maker, technology is being used to streamline process, lower costs throughout the supply chain, and reduce time to market in every measurable way.
An example of the use of technology in the automotive process can be seen in today’s Supply Chain Process. Prior to the latest wave of technology in the automotive world, material was largely handled in a highly manual process. Obviously, this process came with the associated costs incurred with a largely manual labor force required to order material (by phone, email or sometimes if fortunate enough, via EDI), and then to manually process the material once received. The very act of receiving was itself a lengthy process involving verification of material; manifest manually compared to Purchase Order; material placed into the warehouse for later consumption based on (usually) a known physical map. Today’s process is now highly refined and has technology imbedded in every facet. Supply Chain Monitoring and Processing, in many companies uses the Web to deliver and process the same information as which used to be accomplished by a multitude of planners, warehousemen, purchasing agents and accountants.