Australia's Best Magazine Talks Exclusively to Craig Manuell at aiAutomotive About Supply Chain Management

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Industry-heavyweight magazine, Australia's Best, has an interview with aiAutomotive's Craig Manuell to discuss the importance of suppliers at the company. This interview appeared in Australia's Best Manufacturing, released July 2008.

Australia's Best talks to the Commercial Manager of aiAutomotive, Craig Manuell about how effective supply chain management gives manufacturers a competitive advantage.

In this exclusive interview with Bean Media Group, aiAutomotive's top brass discuss supply chain strategies and the history of one of Australia's most-innovate companies.

The principal manufacturing plant at aiAutomotive operates within the Charles Sturt Industrial Estate at Woodville, South Australia. The 50,200 square metre facility, which produces medium to large automotive stampings and assemblies to body in white stage, has five major press lines, two automated Transfer Press lines and a number of coil feed secondary presses, a large assembly area including robotic cells and a state of the art E-coating facility. aiAutomotive is a tier one supplier to major car producers for the local and export market.

The company house an A-class press line, including fully equipped skin-line with single and double action presses up to 1000 tons. The capability also includes single and double action B and C class presses up to 600 tonnes and many smaller presses, a blanking line and die maintenance capability. It also has a large assembly plant specialising in the assembly of closure components for the automotive industry. Facilities include four hemming presses, over 100 gimble guns, numerous pedestal welding and MIG welding bays and a large number of dedicated & flexible robotic assembly cells.

aiAutomotive operates a cathodic electro-dip (E-coat) facility, specialising in automotive skin panels and industrial components, the multi stage process gives a uniform dry film thickness using black epoxy paint. This process provides a high quality paint finish with superior corrosion protection complying to the global automotive quality standards.

The company also has a broad range of manufacturing expertise and produces a variety of high volume, complex welded assemblies such as I/P Cross Car Beams, Mod Plates, suspension components, Hand Brake lever assemblies and Steering shaft assemblies. aiAutomotive also possess high speed pressing capabilities to produce large volume fast moving metal components such as clips and brackets for the building and electrical industry.

With the resources and a capability to manage, procure, buy off and produce A-class dies to sub assembly process cells, aiAutomotive has been responsible for the management of a number of large turn-key tooling projects. The company has managed these projects from the receipt of CAD data through to volume production for large niche vehicle projects such as Holden Monaro, AWD, Crew Cab Utility and Cab Chassis for the domestic and export markets.

The company has strong expertise in the design, manufacture and tryout of press tools and assembly systems as well as their own in-house prototyping facilities and toolroom.
"We are always on the lookout for better ways to do business, and aiAutomotive strives to further develop as a tier one supplier to OEM's, working with our customers from the design and engineering stages to final delivery," says Chris Shellis, CEO of aiAutomotive Pty Ltd.

Australia's Best talks to the Commercial Manager of aiAutomotive, Craig Manuell about how effective supply chain management gives manufacturers a competitive advantage

Why is proficient supply chain management integral to aiAutomotive?

"aiAutomotive supply chain management and logistics efficiencies are critical in global automotive component businesses with global competitors and sophisticated international customers. Effective supply chain management is required to instil a competitive advantage for our products with our customers in the areas of cost, quality and service.
We consider suppliers play a very important role in regards to achieving company objectives. The total strategic alignment of all links in the supply chain is critical in being able to deliver to the exacting and demanding customer needs of quality, cost and service. Customer satisfaction is only as good as the weakest link in the chain."

What are the criteria's you consider when assessing potential suppliers?

At aiAutomotive we consider the following supplier capabilities as very important:

Automotive industry experience and proven results, Competitive pricing for goods and services, Demonstrated ability to produce similar products, Robust Quality Management & Business systems in place, Program Management capabilities, Geographic location, Financial stability and sustainability, Company culture and Strategic alignment to aiAutomotive's goals and aspirations

Has there been any new supplier relationships aiAutomotive has developed recently?

"Modern automotive manufacturing demands the use of global best practice purchasing techniques. This often leads to souring products and/or services from both local and overseas suppliers. Recent diversification of the aiAutomotive business has meant the addition of new sourcing partners from USA, EU, China and India for a variety of products and raw materials. These products range from exotic raw materials of coil and sheet steel to sophisticated assemblies for seating components to aluminum castings.'

Key suppliers important to aiAutomotive include Brice Metals, A N Cooke Manufacturing, CMTP and Sheet Metal Supplies.

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CHRIS DUTTON
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