automotive supply chain, operational restart, restart readiness, checklist, AIAG, COVID-19, supply chain

This article was co-written by Cathy Fisher, founder and president at Quistem and global expert in automotive quality management systems.

The global automotive industry has never faced an unplanned shutdown (complete or partial) like that which has stemmed from COVID-19. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. The current situation differs significantly from planned automotive plant shutdowns for example, for model changes. Automotive suppliers, especially Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturers may find their normal plant restart routines inadequate when attempting to ensure fulfillment of product quality and delivery requirements for their customers.

Operational Restart Readiness

On May 12, 2020, QAD and Quistem, an automotive consulting firm, will offer an on-demand webinar for the automotive industry, hosted by AIAG, to present a strategy for operational restart. The webinar will address key manufacturing topics to consider for resuming operations after a complete or partial shutdown in the current COVID-19 environment.

In the coming weeks, many OEM factories around the world will begin to restart their assembly plants. Automotive suppliers must begin planning and preparing now to ensure they are ready to fulfill their customers’ requirements. This webinar outlines a three-step plan for automotive suppliers to follow in preparation for the restart of their operations. The plan includes:

  1. Managing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 at your facility
  2. Restarting manufacturing operations
  3. Recovering operational stability

We will provide a 13-point Operational Restart Readiness checklist your organization can use for evaluating potential risks when it comes time to restart your operations.

Managing the Impacts of COVID-19

The most immediate concern for automotive suppliers is how to keep their employees healthy and safe from exposure to COVID-19 while resuming manufacturing operations. There are numerous resources available to guide organizations in addressing COVID-19, including OSHA 3990 Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 as well as industry publications like Lear’s “Safe Work Playbook”. During this webinar, we will provide a three-part framework for identifying and addressing risks related to COVID-19 exposure in your workplace and applying the available COVID-19 specific guidance.

Restarting Your Operations

Beyond managing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, manufacturers must also consider what actions are necessary to physically restart their operations. We have identified 13 key topics automotive manufacturers should consider relative to restarting their operations. These essential restart-specific topics address the review and application of your organization’s contingency plans to better align inventory across the supply chain as well as product/process requalification. For each of the topics on the checklist, we will provide detailed guidance on specific actions automotive suppliers should take to ensure an efficient restart of their operations.

This checklist was reviewed by several Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in the automotive industry to verify that all relevant contingencies have been included. The results were unanimous that the checklist would be helpful guidance for automotive manufacturers as well as their suppliers at all tiers in the automotive supply chain.

Recovering Operational Stability

With actions implemented to protect their workforce from exposure to COVID-19 and get their manufacturing processes back up and running, automotive suppliers can then turn their attention to getting answers to key questions that will define the future of their business.

While it is difficult to know exactly what the “new normal” may look like, we do recognize that organizations will want to update processes, procedures, work instructions and contingency plans with any lessons learned from their operational restart. We also recommend organizations take note of areas that were time-consuming during the restart process in order to bring operations in these areas back to normal. Developing restart optimization strategies is imperative for reducing recovery time should the COVID-19 virus return.

Starting on May 12, you’ll be able to access this valuable on-demand webinar HERE to prepare your organization for a successful restart of your operations. The recorded webinar is intended for executives and plant management in Operations, Quality, Engineering, Materials, Logistics, Purchasing and Information Technology. You can also download the Operational Restart Readiness checklist HERE, so your organization can start using it immediately!