Auto assembly operations rely on hundreds of 3rd party vendors to manufacture and ship thousands of different parts often to one location. Material management and supply chain management are integral parts of a successful assembly line operation. Just in Time inventory systems were introduced many years ago and transformed how automobiles were made. This article will help you understand the supply c26hain from the metal stampers perspective.
In the 1960s, the Japanese took a first step toward a perfect manufacturing world by introducing Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing. The intent of JIT is to enlist the cooperation of all links in the supply chain to make manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective. Nowhere is this concept more visible today than in the US automobile industry.
The JIT Methodology Requires More Than Just a Leap of Faith
US automotive assembly plants operate on the premise that components will arrive on time. Arriving late could cause an interruption or even a stoppage of the assembly line. Arriving early requires the company to store, track and pay for components that they don’t yet need. Making JIT manufacturing work successfully requires commitments to be made and kept by all suppliers in all supply chains. Even one supplier missing a scheduled delivery could cause an avalanche of delays or even shutdowns.
On-Time Delivery of Stamped Metal Components Keeps the Assembly Line Moving
Today, automobiles are designed to include complex stamped components which requires progressive metal stamping. This is a multistep operation where a blank coil of metal is stamped using a series of die stations that punch, bend, form, and eventually cut this blank into fully formed metal parts. This can be done by moving the item through a multiple stamping stations or by specialized equipment that can complete the multiple stamping operations with a single setup. Regardless of how the multiple steps are performed, the real hero here is the stamping die maker who interprets the part specifications, manufactures the necessary dies and recommends setup procedures.
Stamped Metal Components Must Be Cost-Effective
The challenge facing metal stampers is to deliver stamped components at a fair price and on the agreed schedule. The obstacles to overcome are equipment setup charges and long lead times. On a per piece basis, equipment setup charges can be reduced with high quantities of long run stamping. This may require the supplier to inventory a quantity of completed stampings until it is time to ship them. Most progressive metal stamping companies that serve the automobile industry are larger organizations with some serious metal stamping equipment and inventory capacity. Although the best partners can work together to minimize the need to inventory parts and deliver parts just in time for the assembly process to ramp up.