The Automotive Group of Continental has awarded prizes to its Suppliers of the Year for 2017. The awards ceremony took place during Supplier Day 2018, attended by 550 guests from across the world at the Estrel Congress Centre, Berlin.
The fact that a robot was in charge of handing out the cocktails at the evening’s prize gala was perfectly in keeping with the forward-looking approach of the supplier day. The slogan for the event, “Supplier of Choice 2030”, had been deliberately chosen to reflect a dual objective. Continental aims to strengthen and build on its position as the supplier of choice for automobile manufacturers. At the same time, challenges to be overcome collaboratively in the future were emphasised.
Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer at Continental AG, is in charge of the corporation’s long-term technology strategy. In his “Vision 2030” presentation, he explained how the automotive industry’s underlying conditions are changing at present and how they will change in the future, and what challenges and opportunities will result from this.
Global developments such as increasing urbanisation or the growing percentage of the population represented by elderly people are changing the requirements that mobility solutions need to meet. At the same time, a worldwide change in user behavior is apparent, according to Lehmann.
“People will increasingly rely on the support of artificial intelligence in personal matters. Secure connectivity is becoming ever more important, not just for people but also for vehicles. This may also necessitate a paradigm shift. The car is losing its position as a status symbol, because time is the new status symbol.” Continental sees itself as a trendsetter on the road to what is known as Society 5.0, which places human beings at the centre of all technological progress.
With its three automotive divisions, Chassis & Safety, Powertrain and Interior, Continental covers the entire range of future mobility solutions. The company aims to achieve leading market positions in automated driving, information management, drive electrification and mobility services by 2030, according to Lehmann.
Experts from the three divisions then explained to the suppliers which specific new platforms and products Continental is working on. In addition, a separate event was held to deal with the interests of the Production Equipment & Engineering Services (PEES) division, which also awarded a special “Innovation Award” this year.
Günter Fella, Head of Purchasing at Continental Automotive, said, “In this challenging market, we need to raise the question of what we need to do in order to be the ‘Supplier of Choice’ in 2030 as well. This affects both what we offer our customers as well as our relationship with our suppliers. Speed will be a crucial factor. We all need to learn to act more quickly and more flexibly while also improving our quality standards and financial conditions.”
“Digitalisation can help us with this by enabling data to be exchanged even more quickly and in even greater detail. We are operating in a highly volatile market with new market players, so we need to identify the areas of risks in our business environment and work quickly to define countermeasures before the risks occur,” continued Fella.
At its roughly 100 production sites worldwide, Continental’s Automotive divisions processed around 140 billion components in 2017. These were manufactured by more than 3,500 series suppliers. Continental Automotive performs a comprehensive, systematic evaluation of its strategic suppliers every year.
The central criteria here are quality, technology, supply, costs and purchasing conditions. Outstanding achievements have been rewarded with the Supplier of the Year awards since 2008. This year, the prizes went to the following companies:
- Electronics: Nippon Chemi-Con (Capacitors), Vishay (Discretes)
- Electromechanics: Electrical Components International (Cables), WUS Printed Circuit (PCB)
- Mechanics & Raw Material: Alupress (Casting), Grupo Cropu (Forgings)
- Plastic and Rubber: ept – electronic precision technology (Connectors), Molex (Plastic-Mechatronics & Connectors)
- Investment and Engineering: Suzhou Harmontronics Automation Technology (Assembly Production for Electronic Manufacturing), Mahr (Measurement Equipment for Mechanical Quantities), Larsen & Toubro (Engineering Services – Engineering Software/Hardware)
- Chassis & Safety division-specific solutions: ITT Friction Technologies (Brake Pads)
- Interior division-specific solutions: Sakaiya (Dials), Shinko Nameplate (Decorative Plastics)
- Powertrain division-specific solutions: HES Präzisionsteile Hermann Erkert (Machined Components)
The special prize known as the “Quality Award” has been awarded since 2011 in recognition of extraordinary achievements in the field of quality enhancement. This year, the award went to Shinko Nameplate. Fuji Machine Manufacturing received the Innovation Award in the Investment and Engineering category.