Alihankinta Column: Productivity = quality
The automotive industry is a sector where competition is global and standards are high. At Valmet Automotive, quality is at the heart of the operations – the customers set the requirements regarding product quality and the company then selects the processes and approaches to meet these requirements. By combining these, the company can ensure productivity and profitability.
As a contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive has a great deal of freedom to use and develop different approaches. The customers are, first and foremost, interested in the fulfilment of the criteria for product quality and prompt deliveries. From a contract manufacturer’s perspective it is also important how the criteria are met – if the requirements are fulfilled through repair work or extra hours, productivity will suffer.
Valmet Automotive’s productivity is based on the FTOK (FirstTime OK) principle, in other words having a product completed in one go. The production teams are responsible for making sure that each phase is carried out according to the instructions. This ensures that the operations and product quality meet the standards. However, continuous improvement is also an integral part of Valmet Automotive’s activities. Each staff member has a goal to present a certain number of development proposals every month.
Other factors affecting quality and productivity are occupational safety and ergonomics. Valmet Automotive places a great deal of emphasis on these aspects and in the 1970s the company was one of the first car manufacturing plants in the world to switch from the conveyor belt model to the teamwork model. Our plant’s high degree of robotisation is often mentioned in connection with productivity, but the reason for using robots in car body manufacturing is no longer productivity but industry logic. Modern body manufacturing is not possible without robots, for example for quality and ergonomic reasons. However, we only use robots where it makes sense. Therefore, in the name of productivity we have deliberately kept automation to a minimum in the assembly line. It is part of the lean approach which aims for effective and simple solutions.
For Valmet Automotive each new car model is a new project that requires development of production systems, construction work and training. We have 50 years of experience doing this. We have repeatedly started the manufacturing of new products in record time – in about a year or even less – while always ensuring the quality of operations and products. This has allowed us to become one of the world’s biggest contract manufacturers and leading service providers.
The “secret” of Valmet Automotive’s success is an approach that brings together our expertise and resources with our customers’ requirements. We are also constantly developing our activities and anticipating customer needs. Could Valmet Automotive’s activities be used as a model for other companies? The approaches, principles and practical solutions used in the automotive industry could well be applied to other industries and companies. However, direct copying of our organization is not possible – even many automotive companies have acknowledged this.
Mikael Mäki, Communications Manager
Valmet Automotive Inc.