Auto suppliers need stockkeeping support from carmakers: conference

Suppliers to the automotive industry need to put more emphasis on maintaining stock for longer periods, a challenge brought by the ups and downs in demand from carmakers in recent times, Kallanish heard at an industry meeting this week.

Most of all, the suppliers need the support of carmakers to be able to maintain larger stocks, which they get for electronics more than for steel parts, says Wojciech Dembinski of Westfalia Automotive. At the MBI Stahltag conference in Frankfurt, he spoke about the risks of fluctuations in car production, in correlation with unforeseen supply shortages.

His company manufactures towbars – a steel-made element coupled with microcontrollers. Over the past two years, it has repeatedly faced the situation of carmakers not calling off the towbars at the projected times in the course of an annual contract. This means a challenge for a supplier’s own inventory management. “Rather than lowering their demand right away, carmakers instead tend to push their intake further back,” he said of a typical conflict of interest between the two sides.

Lately, though, he has observed more willingness from carmakers to make concessions. “Meanwhile, they ask us proactively to keep up our inventories ready for six months,” which he says is a consequence of the shortages seen for semiconductor chips and for wire harnesses from Ukraine.

However, he is missing a similar tolerance from carmakers for the pure steel parts, which they consider the supplier’s business to take care of. “We need to convince them to assume some responsibility for the steel parts, too,” Dembinski told Kallanish on the sidelines of the event.

Christian Koehl Germany