Automakers and suppliers explore automated purchasing

A spokesman for a large Tier 1 supplier who asked not to be identified given the sensitive nature of the topic said that all of the Detroit 3 are either moving to automate some buying procedures, or discussing such a move.

He said his own company is also moving toward automated processes “whenever possible.”

“We are focused on automation of some repetitive steps in our sourcing process, where customers extend a program life and we, in turn, need to extend the contractual obligation to our supply base,” the spokesman said.

The Tier 1 supplier is also developing a tool for members of its purchasing team to ask questions, find resources online or launch an IT request for access to data, he said.

The initial moves may be small, but they appear to be the beginning of a trend.

Volkswagen’s Von Seelen said it is a case where the auto industry is catching up to other sectors.

“Other industries are more advanced,” she noted. “We need to be more transparent from the supply base, but also from the automaker side.”

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