Title: Involving suppliers in concurrent engineering: learning from Japan in US auto

Authors: Young K. Ro, Jeffrey K. Liker, Laurent D. Langlet

Addresses: Operations Management, School of Management, University of Michigan, Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128, USA. ' Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. ' Renault-TCR, AVA 303 1, Avenue du Golf, Guyancourt, F78288, France

Abstract: The Japanese supplier management system is considered a benchmark for providing high quality products with short lead times, achieved through close integration between manufacturers and suppliers in the early stages of product development. US automakers have been reengineering their product development systems along the lines of the Japanese model and outsourcing an increasing level of vehicle content and design responsibility to their supply bases. The purpose of this paper is to report on the evolving models for supplier involvement in concurrent engineering in US auto, through interviews conducted from 1998–1999. Case examples illustrate that the US auto companies have been evolving the Japanese model, including higher levels of outsourcing of modules and systems. Yet, OEM policies and practices have not evolved to a point needed to support the great responsibility being shunted onto suppliers. The auto case identifies a variety of models of supplier integration in concurrent engineering and the necessary infrastructure for effectiveness.

Keywords: buyer-supplier relationships; concurrent engineering; keiretsu; modularity; outsourcing; automotive product development; programme management; supplier management; systems integration; supplier involvement; simultaneous engineering; automobile industry.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMTM.2004.005387

International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management, 2004 Vol.6 No.3/4, pp.214 - 240

Available online: 01 Oct 2004 *

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