Quality Risks in the Growth of China’s Private Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturers
Since China’s entrance into the WTO, auto parts manufacturing in China has rapidly developed, and various types of manufacturing enterprises and business entrepreneurs are constantly emerging.
In general, there are two groups of Chinese private entrepreneurs with previous background in the automotive industry: many used to work in sales for some automotive companies and left once gaining enough customer resources, while others are former technical or quality engineers or managers at those companies who left after accumulating sufficient knowledge and experience.
International buyers tend to prefer factories run by owners who know the technologies and understand the quality. Such enterprises, usually small at the early stage, easily become the first choice for many international buyers because of their low overall cost and competitive prices. The buyers believe in the factories’ products, because other than the price advantage, quality can usually be guaranteed without the need for costly factory audits or inspections.
At the early stages of growth, these business owners spend most of their time and effort on product development and quality control. Their personal attention is critical in ensuring product quality. In general, the factories’ product qualities are indeed quite reliable at this stage.
As the companies expand, however, the owners gradually come to realize that they have to constantly secure more orders in order to survive and continue to grow. So, they start to focus on getting more customers and orders. But new problems come up once orders start to come in: the lack of capital, production sites, capacity and production and testing equipment, the worker shortage and the management challenges.
Now, the owners become completely pre-occupied with finding solutions to daily operational issues, and have no time left for product development or quality control, let alone the production sites. The tasks of quality management and control are completely dependent on friends or relatives who joined the business at the beginning, while the owners only exercise limited quality management based on their relationships and past experiences. Any personal issues or sub-performance of these people would immediately lead to potentially serious quality problems.
How can international buyers take notice of such changes within their trusted private entrepreneurs?
Order confirmations start to drag on, deliveries begin to get delayed, a few issues here and there start to appear, such as incorrect goods are shipped or packaging labels are printed wrong, then various complaints start to come in from the customers.
How can they deal with this situation?
●Strengthen the communication with the suppliers and go to the factories for claims processing;
●Audit the suppliers’ quality management systems;
●Send QCs for more factory pre-shipment inspections;
●Start looking for alternative suppliers;
●When appropriate and justified, set up offices in China, recruit product and technical engineers, SQE, QCs, and establish regular supplier audit and QC inspection programs.
By Felix SS YUAN
Primary failure mode:
●Slack adjuster falls off from the worm
●The worm abrade too fast in use
●The interference fit between the worm shaft and the worm is too small
Key preventive measures:
●Verify that the outer diameter of the worm shaft conforms to the drawing
●Verify that the bore of the worm meets the tolerance requirements of the drawing
●Verify that the hardness of the worm and wheel is acceptable
Primary failure mode:
failure to adjust the gap automatically
●Worn clutch Gear-B
●Gear-B of the worm shaft wears too fast
●The force of the clutch torsion spring too small
●Work pressure too small
Key preventive measures:
●Check the size and depth of Gear-B as well as the hardness (including the worm shaft)
●Fatigue test of clutch torsion spring and back spring
●Make sure the working load pressure to be between 75 ± 5 (N.M)
How to deal with the potential risks of product quality inherent with different production processes (Part I) ?
For impact on products’ internal structure and performance with casting, forging and die-casting processes:
●Control the incoming material quality
●Understand the effects of various defects and process parameters on products
For impact on product measurement with stamping process:
●Understand the effects of various stamping processes (blanking / stretching / bending) on measurement
●Control the thickness and performance of the stamping material based on standards
●Observe the impact on the assembly (Take into account whether gauges are used on-site)
For impact on product measurement and surface quality with machining process (lathing, milling, grinding, etc.):
●Understand the effects on measurement with various machining processes (lathing, milling, grinding, etc.)
●Check the compliance with standards of the dimensions and material from previous processes
●Observe the impact on assembly
According to a recent report of the “Top 100 International Trade Shows 2017” published by the media company Sail by Exhibition, while the German exhibitions have remained stable, the major Chinese exhibitions are growing faster. The changes of the top 100 exhibitions over the past 10 years have clearly shown the eastward shift of worldwide exhibitions.
In the top 10 of the “Top 100 2017 International Trade Show” list, the mechanical & vehicle industries take up an important position. China has three exhibitions among the top 10. Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (Auto Shanghai), now the largest auto show in the world, was ranked the 5th, followed by Automechanika Shanghai. Bauma China is also amongst the top 10. Ranked just 69 in 2011, Automechanika Shanghai has become No. 6 in 2017, exceeding its parent exhibition, the Automechanika in Frankfurt. The ranking is based on the total exhibition areas of the trade shows.
The growth of Auto Shanghai and Automechanika Shanghai bears witness to the increasing importance of China in the global automotive market.
SHENTOU SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CO. LTD. is a Shenzhen, China, based company serving international automotive clients in the implementation of their China strategies and programs. CHINA AUTOMOTIVE SUPPLIER QUALITY MANAGEMENT BRIEFING is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Shentou to address the specific and unique quality challenges and concerns international automotive companies face with suppliers in China. Comments are welcome at email@example.com. Click here to subscribe.
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