Untangling the Supplier Pile-up

Automotive suppliers today are facing challenges from all directions. These are “wild times, a real rollercoaster ride,” says Brian Jolley, manager of business development for automotive solution provider pmc America. Dealers are selling lots of units, he notes, but there’s increased pressure on suppliers to reduce costs and inventory – in general, to be ever more efficient in order to increase profits.
Besides being hit with constantly changing EDI – electronic data interchange – requirements, he says, suppliers are being asked to do business electronically – even pushed to change their manufacturing processes to bring them closer to an Asian model. Shipping, too, has become critical, with OEMs and large suppliers developing strict guidelines.
For these and other reasons, said Jolley in a recent SAP-sponsored, pmc America-hosted webinar, automotive suppliers must establish predictable costs across the board. As part of this mandate, they must improve communications everywhere -– with suppliers, with customers, with banks. Taken together, he explained, what they need is to develop an adaptable business, positioned to deal with both present and future change.

pmc on the road

Part of the German pmc Group, pmc America, an SAP Business Partner and vertical solutions reseller, is heavily focused on the automotive industry, as Jolley and Heiko Edelmann, executive vice president of pmc America, explained during the webinar, entitled “Earning Your Automotive Customers’ Business During These Challenging Times.”
The pmc Group, founded in 1994 by German automotive experts working with SAP, has offices in Germany, France, Spain, and the United States and has completed over 100 successful SAP projects. pmc America, located in a suburb of Detroit, provides solutions for SAP automotive and manufacturing implementations that include process automation, EDI, and electronic supply chain management (e-SCM). These solutions are built on an SAP foundation, with pmc Automotive processes, software, and consulting serving as their “bricks and mortar,” as Jolley puts it. In addition to SAP, pmc America maintains a partnership with Inovis.
For the North American market, pmc America has developed pmcNavigate Automotive, a qualified mySAP All-in-One vertical solution for small and midsize automotive suppliers. It combines elements of mySAP Business Suite with pmc America’s automotive implementation expertise. pmcNavigate Automotive is a fixed-price, fixed-scope solution with a defined and predictable implementation timeframe, Jolley explains. A prepackaged solution built on the Best Practices business framework of mySAP All-in-One, it includes automotive-industry-specific enhancement from pmc America as well as EDI technology from Inovis.
Using accelerated implementation methodology, pmc America can have the solution up and running in 12 weeks for as little as $290,000, says Jolley, helping to ensure a rapid return on investment.

Mapping the route

For its presentation to prospective customers, pmc America provides an Automotive Supplier Business Blueprint that details the solution’s over 30 automotive-specific business processes, based on SAP’ Best business Practices. A subset of these processes can be tailored to address the needs of an individual company. The solution is highly scalable to meet the business needs of today and tomorrow, says Jolley, and it has been certified by Honda of America as compliant with its stringent business-partner guidelines for EDI/barcoding systems.
Edelmann refers to the solution’s development and deployment as an “evolutionary – not revolutionary – process” that integrates “all the little islands of business processes.” It is designed to deal with the “different flavors” of intermediary systems as well as to provide integration into mySAP ERP, he notes. The functionality is specific yet broad enough to eliminate any need to couple systems with limited functions from multiple vendors or to chance high-risk investments that may not meet tomorrow’s requirements.
Since pmc America’s core business is automotive, says Jolley, the company knows the industry from the inside. As a result, pmcNavigate Automotive addresses global automotive requirements through preconfigured automotive-specific business processes, enhanced by SAP add-ons. And the alliance between pmc America and its clients does not stop with implementation, he adds: pmc America remains the single point of contact for ongoing support through its Center of Excellence.

The essentials

Of the 30-plus automotive-specific business processes included in the solution, among the most essential are functionality for barcode scanning and enhanced EDI connectivity and translation. Edelmann notes that this solution brings EDI directly into business processes to add significant value: pmcNavigate Automotive tracks material flows from goods receipt to shipping, and integrates EDI management from order entry to payment.
Production planning functionality delivers a clear picture of all production steps, he says, from scheduling to execution, helping assure that production schedules match customer demands. Logistics execution covers automated delivery and shipping processes through intelligent shipping scanning.
Since the automotive sector is a customer-driven business, explains Edelmann, the key to success is demand-management. pmcNavigate Automotive reporting tools provide information on all process steps and present a picture of all errors, with notices that flag all – and only – exceptions. Since each step is fully documented, demand is injected directly into the supply system, with follow-through to execution by means of barcodes, bills of lading, packing lists, and scanning. Forms and printouts are delivered as pdf-converted e-mails that can be handled by all major messaging e-mail systems, such as Lotus Notes.

The SAP connection

During the webinar, Jolley took time to explain why pmc America has remained so tightly bound to SAP. He referred to SAP as the “industry process expert,” providing the drivers for profitability, efficiency, and lower TCO. He characterized mySAP All-in-One as a solution that is complete, adaptable, integrated, fully scalable, and prepackaged for rapid deployment.
“SAP produces real solutions with real results and total scalability,” he said. “They listen and learn from customers. And they work with their partners in the partner network to provide industry-specific components to add to the SAP framework.” The major result of the partnership is rapid return on investment and lower total cost of ownership for pmc America clients.
For more information on pmcNavigate Automotive, visit www.pmc-america.com/2/menu2.html or www.sap.com/solutions/smb/allinone/prepackagedsolutions/pmcnavigate.asp..
To hear a replay of the pmc America-hosted webinar, “Earning Your Automotive Customers’ Business During These Challenging Times,” visit sap.webex.com/sap/playback.php?FileName=HTTP%3A//www.sap.com/fm/webex/Auto_SMB_1001.wrf&Rnd=0.3732277767930992

Derek Davis
Derek Davis