Close collaboration with suppliers is the key to Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) success.
Nathan Earland, senior purchasing manager, said JLR was not as big as other automakers so it had to work especially hard on relationships with suppliers to achieve its aims.
Speaking after the company won Best Supplier Relationship Management in the CIPS Supply Management Awards, Earland said: “It is a truly great example of collaboration with the supplier and supplier relationship management.”
He added: “We are smaller than other manufacturers and have to rely on relationships.”
JLR went on to be named overall winner in the awards.
The company was tested when a key supplier, Grupo Antolin, a maker of car interiors, began struggling to maintain supply. Because the interiors have many customer options the supply chain was extremely tight, with Grupo Antolin typically getting six hours notice of the required spec. Increased demand from JLR strained the supplier, resulting in stoppages at JLR’s plants and spending of around £1.8m on overtime in the first quarter of 2016.
Fixing the problem was “all about the people”. A JLR team went on site at the supplier and there were regular meetings. “We based ourselves in the supplier plant to diagnose the issues,” said Earland.
The work resulted in a new assembly line being built at Grupo Antolin and a supply chain that did not disrupt production at JLR’s plants.
Earland’s advice to fellow procurement professionals facing similar challenges was “get to the coal face”.
“Understand the challenges the suppliers are facing intimately,” he said.
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