Supply Chain Dynamics
Moving the Supply Chain into the Future
by Dino Lanno
Itís clear: the auto glass supply chain isnít what it used to be. Throughout
this year-long series, we have discussed numerous external factors impacting
the industry. This includes the ever-expanding size and complexity of
parts, the growing need for environmental sustainability, the risks of
globalization, and the fragile nature of manufacturing and moving vehicle
In the past, it seemed the auto glass repair and replacement industry
just had to focus on having the right technician on the job. But todayís
itís so much more complex and also requires that companies have the right
part for the job.
Moving into 2012, many of these issues will only multiply. Our supply
chains must operate more strategically and responsibly than ever before
in order to succeed. In an already tough environment, there are three
trends that will influence our work in the coming years.
Evolving Designs of Vehicle Glass
The automotive industry is trending toward moreóand biggeró glass in every
vehicle. Some designs, such as panoramic roofs, actually blend into the
windshield. Secondly, auto manufacturers also are making auto glass lighter
in weight to address energy and gas efficiency. Thirdly, as the automotive
industry introduces new technologies, there is an increase of technically
complex vehicle glass. Finally, there are more radical glass shapes with
extreme curves, all-glass tailgates, and double and triple curvatures.
As these new enhancements work their way into the mainstream, they make
auto glass more difficult to distribute and warehouse while keeping breakage
and scrap down to a minimum. With so many nuances, it also makes it more
complicated to have the exact right part to the right customer at the
right time and place.
Interestingly, auto makers are taking note of the successful auto glass
supply chain and now are requesting information on best practices so that
they can mimic the way we store and move glass. Moving ahead, there will
be increased partnerships between the car manufacturers and the auto glass
repair and replacement industry to work together to improve the packaging,
racking and distribution of auto glass.
Likewise, the auto glass supply chain will collaborate more closely with
suppliers to develop more solutions to streamline the process from beginning
to end. This includes things like wrapped barcodes, picking electronics,
and overall warehouse management systems.
Together (through a group effort among both auto manufacturers and suppliers)
this holds great promise for the level of sophistication that can be reached.
One such example of collaboration is the way in which we track our products.
Technology has allowed us to track when, what and where inventory is sent
efficiently. This is particularly important in potential recall situations.
The more quickly we, as an industry, can identify where the affected inventory
was used, the faster we can react to protect the end-user, thereby protecting
us all from negative outcomes.
Before the industry evolved from paper transactions to electronic, there
was not a reliable way to track this information, which left us exposed
to risk damage. Ideally, we will continue to build technologies and systems
to keep us moving forward on this path.
As we enter the new year, the auto glass supply chain industry has a lot
to celebrate, and there have been many terrific innovations. Yet, as the
challenges continue to unfold, we must continue to learn and change and
invest in a strategic supply chain for the betterment of our industry.
Dino Lanno is senior vice president of supply chain and manufacturing
for the Safelite Group in Columbus, Ohio.
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.