The starring role in any manufacturing company belongs to the products that are produced. However, the supporting cast, especially information technology (IT), is quickly coming out from behind the scenes and taking center stage to ensure companies have all essential information readily available to optimize operations and the business overall.
This is certainly the case at Cooper Standard. As a growing automotive supplier, there is an immense and growing demand for more information to create greater insight into the business. To meet this need, the company is installing business processes aimed at accelerating world-class performance. There is a thirst for information of all types: how processes are performing, whether its people-centric processes or machine-centric processes, in our manufacturing plants; information on how products perform; as well as the recipes and design characteristics that improve quality, product performance and manufacturability.
In the past, IT typically fulfilled these needs by generating reporting capability from the existing business systems or implementing new business systems where none existed before. In addition to expanding our business solution set, we now also have to expand the scope of our digital footprint and set up our manufacturing facilities to tell us how the manufacturing and material handling processes are performing. We have to manage information as a business asset that is growing in its value to us by fueling innovation and continuous improvement. Finally, we have to seamlessly integrate these processes and information assets to leverage the opportunities they afford.
This is a journey that all world-class manufacturing companies are taking, but getting it right for your business is key. While there are many technologies available to be leveraged, IT and the business needs to stay true to balancing a sound vision and roadmap, while being pragmatic in applying these enabling technologies. Focusing on current and real business opportunities, structuring initiatives to get a continual stream of returns, and avoiding the hype and frenzy coming from the marketplace are all critical.
Here is what Cooper Standard is doing in IT to address these challenges of and opportunities for our business:
Standardize & Adopt
First, we are implementing standard core business systems to enable common global best practice. Like the master script of a stage production, everyone must work off the same master plan, no matter their role in the production. This includes following these standardize best practice processes globally, which creates faster response to changes in the business and provides a go-to template for integrating new acquisitions.