May 24, 2013 in SAAB Parts
In Nyköping many years ago a company called ANA: Aktiebolaget Nyköpings Automobil Fabrik (Nyköpings Car-factory Inc.) was formed with over 3500 employees, where CKD cars, basically kit-cars which were bought from various parts of the world, assembled and sold in Sweden. The products could vary from Simka, Dodge, Van Guard etc. The company had dealerships called ANA located in Linköping, Nyköping, Södertälje, Trollhättan etc…
These dealerships were very good at selling and servicing cars. Saab in Trollhättan started building cars about the same time but sold its cars through a dealership-chain called Filipssons, however they weren’t very good at what they did, so when ANA stopped producing cars Saab decided to purchase the dealership chain.
Once Saab took over, the facility in Nyköping became the main location for its parts-management. In the 80s the facility in Nyköping grew and some parts production was placed there, until the early 90s where most of these in-house production was leased out.
First of all: Parts availability is good and Saab Automobile Parts AB cover all major markets that used to sell new Saabs. Tim and I met with Lennart Ståhl, the CEO of Saab Automobile Parts AB, on the afternoon of Monday April 23rd. One of the things we learned is just how big the facility in Nyköping, Sweden is. On an average day the company typically see about 50 trucks arriving carrying between 1000-1200 deliveries from the roughly counted 1700 suppliers. The same amount of trucks leave with parts, now en-route to the customers. The order system peaks at about 12’000 orders per day, which usually happens at the beginning of the week.
Every Monday an inventory check is performed for each model to look for back-orders. E.g. the week we visited SP, the 9-5 had 30 items on back-order. Most of these will be restocked immediately (perhaps even the same day), but a handful remain a problem such as the notorious HUD windshield for left hand drive markets. Work is still in progress on coming up with a good alternative for HUD-equipped 9-5s, but so far the process involving the reflective coating has proven difficult to solve. The 9-5 parts catalogue covers 7000+ items from a wide range of suppliers.
Saab Automobile Parts AB support a total 1200 workshops in 63 markets around the worlds over 1.2 million cars. Roughly 350 people work at Saab Automobile Parts AB around the world.
The facility has grown over the years. After GM completed the purchase of Saab Automobile in 2000, the Nyköping facility has exclusively dealt with spare parts. With Spyker’s purchase in 2009, Saab Automobile Parts AB was established as a separate entity and thus financially shielded from the aftermath of the bankruptcy of its mother company.
One of the major challenges post-Spyker has been the North American market. Saab Cars North America owned the exclusive rights to import parts for Saabs. Only when the bankruptcy court released those rights were Saab Automobile Parts AB able to form a new company – Saab Parts North America – to fill the gap.
As Jason Powell reported, SPNA has a huge warehouse in Allentown, PA. Jason tells me that Allentown’s current fill rate is 95% and increasing. It is worth pointing out that when a dealer in the US checks the system it only reports what can be found in Allentown. A low number (or even ‘zero’) is not necessarily representative of what Saab Automobile Parts AB can supply. It usually means more parts are on the way. Even when shipped from Sweden, if an order is marked as “Vehicle Off Road” the part is usually shipped by air and will arrive the next day.
Another issue is that in the normal lifespan of a part, some suppliers are swapped as the factory winds down production of the model that uses that part. Many of the factory’s suppliers require a steady flow of production and are simply not equipped to handle short bursts of production of relatively small volumes. The factory’s production halt in 2011 had wide-reaching consequences that took a little time to sort out.
As can be seen from the drawing, the facility consists of several warehouses, first section which in the middle was built in 1976 which housed a total 20’000 square meters. In the mid-80s more sections were added. The whole area is divided into segments of 10’000 square meters which houses its own fire fighting system which does not even have to rely upon the standard fire-fighting system in the city. The facility has a built in sprinkler system with reservoir tank of 6000 cubic meters of water.
The Two of the warehouses are equipped with robots fetching and storing items on the shelves with impressive speed. A third warehouse is a mix between humans with forklifts reaching the first four shelves and the upper shelves managed by a robot restocking the lower shelves as needed. Eventually the smaller parts are carried to the packaging area where the staff fills up shipping containers as indicated by the computer software.
There are also various workshops on the premises. One takes care of the final configuration and assembly of lock cylinders. Each cylinder contains its own unique little code that is programmed using different shaped inserts. Every insert is installed with its own little spring and the end result can of course only be unlocked using the corresponding key.
Mr Ståhl also told us that the number of authorized Saab workshops is increasing steadily. There are on-line training courses that are used to educate mechanics who wants to start working with Saabs. In addition a few tools are needed, such as Parts & Service Information, Diagnostic Tools and Special Tools.
Finally, before the OG9-5 tools were shipped off to BAIC in China, Saab Automobile Parts AB put in an order for a large number of body parts to last us customers a life-time. Similarly, the factory has been producing 9-3 and NG9-5 body parts following the bankruptcy and NEVS’ acquisition of Saab Automobile. These parts are plentiful and drivers of Saab can once again safely engage ‘ramming speed’ as deemed fit, without worrying about the availability of spare parts.