Saab’s next challenge – manufacturing efficiency

One of several good things that GM left behind at Saab (9-5 and 9-4x, anyone?) was a factory that became one of the most efficient in GM’s arsenal. So much so that Saab won an efficiency award late last year – no mean feat in a country like Sweden.

That sort of efficiency doesn’t happen overnight and Saab had a number of very efficient plants to learn from and benchmark themselves against within GM’s European plants. Of course, with Saab’s sale to Spyker, that access to external knowledge is now severely diminished. Saab now have to find another way to keep themselves at the edge.

Swedish magazine, Ny Teknik has been looking at this. The Googletrans:

……”I believe in Nissan as benchmarking partners to Trollhättan factory. Saab has already had a degree of cooperation with people from the Japanese company. The relations are good,” said Gert Frick at consulting firm JMAC Scandinavia – working with Saab to find a partner to benchmark against.

JMAC, “Japan Management Association Consultants”, is a global consulting firm with inputs and contacts in the Japanese automotive industry.

Nissan and Toyota are somewhat known for having succeeded in fusing technology development to purchasing, marketing and production into a functioning whole. Just what Saab needs to do.

– Production is our strength. We must not lose ground in productivity and efficiency. At the same time we must get our various departments to start work together. The production will have to work together with departments in GM were more separated – technological development, marketing and purchasing, “says Gunnar Brunius.

Saab want to bring their breakeven point down to around 85,000 vehicle sales per year. Obviously, keeping abreast of the latest lean production methods and integrating operations better are going to be a key to this.

It’s just another of the challenges facing Saab and one that you may have not paid much mind to.

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