Technology Newsmaker Q&A: Warren Smith on Ferrari

Jan. 1, 2020
Infor announced that it had helped Ferrari boost its production growth by using its Infor ION solution to help build thousands of custom vehicles in sequence while improving supply chain efficiency.

Earlier this year, enterprise application provider Infor announced that it had helped long-time customer Ferrari boost its production growth by using its Infor ION solution to help build thousands of custom vehicles in sequence while improving supply chain efficiency. Infor's Warren Smith spoke to Aftermarket Business World about the implementation.

How exactly was Ferrari able to streamline their manufacturing? Their vehicles are all highly customized.

In the past, with their earlier software, they were creating vehicles as individual projects, not unlike other manufacturers of similar items. Each one is unique. That model works fine if you are building just a few items, but when you start trying to apply lean methodologies for configuration and assembly, and start getting into a just-in-time environment, you have to step it up and get some tools to get you out of that project methodology.

Our Assembly Control solution grew out of work we'd done with Boeing and Navistar. We initially did this with Boeing, and they produce multiple planes per day. They are doing those in assembly line fashion, even though they are highly customized.

You take that configuration, which generates an engineering bill of material with all of the sub-assemblies set up. The individual engineering time has to be exploded out across all of these line stations. We do assembly control and management inside of the ERP solution. Usually ERP handles the bill of material, but when you get into how to lay out an assembly line, you have to put all these third-party products together. That makes engineering changes difficult.

Because we have the complete assembly environment built in, we know exactly where the vehicle is and what work is being done at any time on the line. That provides the opportunity to make changes if something hasn't already been assembled, based on customer input.

How does this affect the supply chain?

The upside is that the suppliers can supply in sequence to Ferrari on the line. If I know that a particular vehicle is coming onto the line, I know that I need a specific seat. I can tell my supplier that you have to have that seat available to me in order, because the next vehicle is going to have a different seat. That way you don't wind up with a lot of vehicle parts sitting around waiting for the vehicle to come onto the line, which is what was happening before.

The line can flow a lot easier. If you don't have a simple part available, you can't assemble that vehicle completely. They also have the visibility to make changes on the fly without going through a major internal rework.

What are the key supply chain challenges your automotive customers are facing right now

You have to be able to work in a global environment. You have to be adaptable to supply or work with other partners around the world on engineering changes, design concepts, etc.

Second, I'd say the introduction of technology into the parts supply chain. The challenge now is that basic vehicle parts have embedded sensors and software, they have to be calibrated, and different software updates have to be rolled out onto the vehicles. You're introducing high technology electronics into traditional manufacturing environments.

There's also parts proliferation. The parts are more complex, and they have shorter lifecycles.

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About the Author

Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a freelance journalist based in Columbus, Ohio, who has been writing about manufacturing, technology and automotive issues since 1997. As an editor with Frontline Solutions magazine, he covered the supply chain automation industry for nearly eight years, and he has been a regular contributor to both Automotive Body Repair News and Aftermarket Business World.

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