Tier 1 automotive suppliers are starting to switch gears – and the industry’s outlook and potential market growth are partially responsible for the shift.
Although the automotive market has enjoyed several consecutive years of growth, a recent decline is raising plenty of concern among suppliers. Light vehicle production throughout the U.S. and Canada fell by nearly 10 percent in 2017, according to a study from Lazard and Roland Berger.
To combat stagnation and ultimately avoid shrinking margins, suppliers are moving their focus from production to innovation. Delphi Automotive, for example, split off into two brands–Aptiv PLC and Delphi Technologies–with the hope of bolstering its propulsion system offerings. Meanwhile, Visteon is making yet another change to its operations. After initially concentrating on vehicle electronics and HVAC systems, the automotive supplier is now narrowing down its portfolio in favor of autonomous vehicles. By exclusively developing a control unit for electronics and software within self-driving cars, Visteon aims to stake its claim as one of the industry’s top innovators.
"Robots that can be customized at a moment's notice stand to improve a supplier's specialization efforts-from concept to production"
Suppliers looking to follow a similar path toward specialization should consider incorporating robotics into their operations. Capable of introducing a whole host of benefits–including increased flexibility, improved product quality and reduced production time–robots are paving the way for a new class of automotive technologies.
Cater to creativity
From tackling unique designs to taking on several different processes, suppliers have the luxury of leveraging robotics to build tools around their solutions and strategies–not the other way around. Specifications that were previously too ambitious can now be satisfied right down to the last detail. This extra bit of flexibility is a key ingredient when it comes to innovation. After all, automotive suppliers are paring down their portfolios to open the door for more specialized products. Robots that can be customized at a moment’s notice stand to improve a supplier’s specialization efforts–from concept to production.
Robots make easier than ever to focus on quality over quantity. In addition to providing the flexibility needed to create specialized products, robots can prevent quality standards from taking a dip. With greater accuracy and precision, as well as enhancing human counterparts, robotic technology keeps defective products from ending up in the hands of consumers. Meanwhile, advancements in the IoT are helping pave the way for predictive maintenance. Instead of guessing when robots are in need of repairs, automotive suppliers can limit downtime by taking care of potential problems before they become too costly. Although some maintenance may be required from time to time, robots have the power to meet specific, high-volume demands–all without taking a break or seeing concentration slip.
Speed up assembly
Not only can robots help churn out state-of-the-art, high-quality products, but they also stand to do so in record time. Unexpected interruptions that typically derail worker productivity aren’t much of a concern for robots. The result? More innovative tools and technologies in a shorter timeframe. Automotive suppliers who want to reduce their time to market would be wise to consider implementing more automation technology, such as robots.
Change is the name of the game in the automotive industry. As growth begins to dwindle, Tier 1 suppliers must search for new ways to keep up with the competition. That’s where robotics makes all the difference. By boosting flexibility, maintaining top-notch product quality and slashing the time it takes to complete the production process, robots help automotive suppliers make the much-needed switch from producing to innovating.