By Gareth Thomas, Managing Director of Icon Plastics, Eaglescliffe
As more knowledge about the effects of emissions came to the fore, the emphasis then turned to developing vehicles that were more environmentally-friendly.
This evolving business environment has continued in the automotive sector and in today’s vehicles there are as many as 100 microprocessors running the braking, cruise control, engine and transmission controls as well as the entertainment systems and many more functions.
This compares to two decades ago when there were only a handful of processors and mechanical settings for controls.
The current automotive technical revolution is one that suppliers ignore at their peril
I would equate what is about to happen in the automotive industry with what occurred in the mobile phone industry with the smart phone – you only have to look back a few years to when a mobile phone was merely a tool for calling people and text messaging and if a mobile incorporated a camera, it was classed a really advanced.
However, tech firms’ further progression into the automotive sector can only be realised if they are able to assimilate the skills and experience of the component manufacturing supply chain in to their production processes and truly make their cars a mass-produced reality.
It is imperative suppliers are not be wedded to the past and they must continue to demonstrate an innovation-led approach that has played such a part in the growth of the sector.
In the UK, the supply chain has risen to the challenge of successfully supporting a buoyant car industry, which is now the most productive in Europe.
Indeed, productivity has reached a new peak with output per employee running at 11.5 vehicles per year during the last five years against 9.3 in the previous half decade.
There also is the prospect of 320,000 UK jobs being created in the automotive sector, which has the potential of providing an annual economic boost of £321bn with extensive research in electric vehicle and driverless car technologies.
Companies in the supply chain must adopt an open, learning culture and be prepared to adopt new ideas and practices to meet the demands of their customers as the trend for more technologically advanced vehicles gathers pace.
There also needs to be a focus on delivering value with companies truly understanding their clients’ needs, not only meeting, but exceeding their expectations.
In conclusion, the supply chain must remain flexible, efficient and adaptable if it is to capitalise on emerging opportunities in a technology-focused automotive industry.