T1-Auto Inc. is a leading producer of brake components for passenger cars and light trucks. The most significant automotive products manufactured and marketed by T1-Auto are anti-lock braking systems ("ABS"), disc and drum brakes, disc brake rotors, hubs and drums for passenger cars and light trucks. T1-Auto is one of the leaders in the production of ABS, supplying both two-wheel and four-wheel systems, and was the leading manufacturer of two-wheel ABS in North America for light trucks. In order to meet increased ABS demand, T1-Auto built new plants in Michigan and Europe. T1-Auto is also a leader in the production of foundation (conventional) brakes, and benefits from its strategic position as a major supplier of ABS and foundation brakes for light trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. T1-Auto also produced electronic door and truck lock actuators. T1-Auto operated six plants in the Michigan and Ohio areas and had one plant and engineering facility in Europe. The company operated a central engineering and testing facility near its corporate headquarters outside Detroit, Michigan.

In 1991, T1-Auto had outsourced its IT department. They retained a management core consisting of the CIO and five managers, but transitioned approximately 80 other members of the department to the outsourcing firm. In 1994, Lotus Notes was installed as the corporate standard e-mail and workflow platform. A team of four Notes developers wrote workflow-based and knowledge management-based applications. Another team of three administrators managed the Notes infrastructure. The first workflow application written at T1-Auto was developed for the Finance department. The finance team quickly realized the workflow benefit of streamlining and tracking the capital expense request process. The Notes development team and the project sponsor, the Controller, worked closely to develop the application. Following this initial success, the power and value of workflow technology caught on quickly at T1-Auto. One of the most successful projects was the Electronic Lab Testing Process described in this paper.

Since the incursion of foreign automobiles in the 1970s, the automotive industry has been characterized by intense rivalry of the participants. This affects the OEMs, the U.S. big three, and cascades through the supply chain. Because T1 is dependent on a few customers, they are subject to their demands for price, quality, and delivery conditions (Porter, 1985). The most severe pressures concern time to market. The OEM continually searches for ways to shorten the design cycle for a new vehicle platform. When a tier 1 supplier such as T1 signs a contract to produce a part, they are given hard deadlines to meet. The means for improving speed to market is most often found by changing the long entrenched inefficient processes that add costs to the supply chain (AIAG, 1997; Lauer, 2000). In the words of David E. Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Michigan, "The business model that is emerging is one that is extraordinarily fast and with a minimum amount of paperwork. Automakers need to get the product out to the customer quicker." (Verespej, 2001)

Annals of Cases on Information Technology
SQL Tips & Techniques (Miscellaneous)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 367

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