New Jaguar XEs at JLR's Solihull facility
New Jaguar XEs at JLR's Solihull facility

Case study: How Jaguar Land Rover kept production rolling

Jaguar Land Rover worked with its interiors supplier Grupo Antolin to prevent disruption on the production line and win twice at this year's CIPS Supply Management Awards

Jaguar Land Rover and Grupo Antolin won Best supplier relationship management and Overall winner at the 2017 awards

Six hours. That’s how much notice supplier Grupo Antolin – one of the largest players in the car interiors market internationally – gets to assemble and ship instrument panels and consoles for the Jaguar F-Pace, Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF, for luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover. It’s a complex task, given the parts are usually bespoke to each customer. And the stakes are high, as any issues with delivery can disrupt JLR’s overall vehicle production, impacting on customers and revenues.

In early 2016, Grupo Antolin moved production to a different site in order to accommodate increased demand. As if moving wasn’t enough of a challenge, the supplier was also grappling with the demands of launching the new instrument panel and control assembly for the Jaguar F-Pace, made up of around 400 parts, and was having to ship to multiple locations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this triple whammy of challenges began to have a negative effect on performance, with output issues, quality issues and equipment breakdowns. In the first quarter of 2016, JLR spent around £1.8m in overtime to produce vehicles at weekends, due to issues in the supply chain.

Where some might resort to pointing fingers and playing the blame game, JLR took a more collaborative approach. “We are smaller than other manufacturers and have to rely on relationships,” explains senior purchasing manager Nathan Earland. “We can’t bang on the table; we need to get involved and collaborate.”

Purchasing and supply chain leaders from both Grupo Antolin and JLR worked together to create a team structure to identify and tackle the causes of supply disruption, under what they badged the OnePlan Improvement Plan. JLR established a three-way team to represent key supply chain functions (purchasing, material planning and logistics, and quality). Members of this team were matched with their counterparts from Grupo Antolin.

Cross-functional collaboration, says Earland, was as critical as supplier/client collaboration. “Having cross-functional teams meant problems got looked at more holistically: from the perspective of cost, quality and delivery,” he says, crediting his colleagues David Brown, who leads the supplier development team in the Supplier Technical Assistance division, and Richard Osborne, who does the same in the Material and Logistics division, for success.

 “It meant the solutions we found were comprehensive and we got things done quicker because people were accountable at all levels across the supply chain,” he adds.

This crack team’s first task was to conduct a diagnostic, value-stream mapping of the entire supply chain to identify gaps and issues. They discovered underlying problems including high levels of downtime due to equipment breakdowns and processes that were holding back performance.

Once these issues had been identified, the team held a workshop to fix things. Once again, experts from each organisation were matched to collaborate on a solution. For example, the supply chain design team from JLR Purchasing worked with the commercial team from Grupo Antolin on planning the implementation of a second assembly line. Instead of simply replicating the existing assembly line, this team recommended the second line be based on a concept that uses a mobile robot and magnetic wires to move panel assemblies. Such a model allows for flexibility, and the sign off and implementation was the quickest ever by a JLR supplier.

Working together has paid off. Overcoming and preventing disruption has resulted in a £3.6m cost avoidance in six months. But many of the benefits are less quantifiable: relationships are stronger than ever and the model is held up as best practice internally, being rolled out to other supplier relationships.

Strengthening the relationship could lead to future opportunities, says Earland. “It has started to elicit more transparency from an ideas generation perspective. Grupo Antolin are now coming to us [with ideas].” The two companies are working in partnership on a new connected supply project in some of their factories: “Grupo Antolin is driving lots of that innovation.”

Earland’s overriding message is that procurement teams need to “make an effort to understand the challenges your supply base faces”. “That starts with getting out of the office and into [your suppliers’] operations. You need to get to the coalface and really understand how they work.”

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