DEARBORN, MICH. (July 12, 1 p.m. ET) — Ford Motor Co.'s purchasing operation says special steps aimed at attracting cutting-edge technology from suppliers are getting results.
This year, a team of high-level Ford purchasing and engineering executives is visiting nine key suppliers for daylong reviews of their newest technology. A Ford team generally visits key suppliers every two or three years in an effort dubbed the Executive Business and Technology Review.
Tony Brown, Ford's group vice president of global purchasing, established the program five years ago to encourage suppliers to show Ford their best products. To speed decision-making, he paired key purchasing executives with their counterparts in Ford engineering.
One such purchasing executive is Birgit Behrendt, Ford's executive director of global programs. Behrendt's job is to ensure that Ford's purchasing operation coordinates with the company's product development unit.
“We were the last to be offered new technology because we struggled to get it out into the market,” Behrendt said in an interview with Automotive News. “Suppliers don't make any money developing a product. They only get a return when we put it on a vehicle.”
So Ford formed a team of engineers and purchasing executives to visit a different group of key suppliers every year. In addition to Behrendt, key team members include:
• Burt Jordan, executive director of global vehicle and powertrain purchasing
• Joe Bakaj, vice president of global powertrain engineering
• Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer
• Barb Samardzich, vice president of global product programs
• Raj Nair, vice president of engineering for global product development
Ford's high-powered group “can make an on-the-spot decision” with suppliers, Behrendt said. “Either it's something we want to look at, and please talk to our engineers. Or we might say that frankly it's not for us, so that nobody wastes effort on things that won't be used by Ford.”
A complete version of this story is available on autonews.com.