“Navigating the Development Game” as a Build to Print Supplier for OEM’s

Robb York

VP of Engineering - Automotive Division at Engineered Plastic Components

Learning Objectives

Providing information / experiences to fellow Tier 1 suppliers that can help them navigate the design and development process for "Build to Print" suppliers for the automotive industry. Giving participants some key steps to follow when working with a OEM on a new development in hopes that they can improve their process and have successful launches of their product.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure you spend time upfront getting all your requirements defined - Don't settle for "we can figure that out later"

  • Saying "NO" to your customer but always giving them a "BUT" option

  • "Check and Check Again" make sure you have process to ensure all steps are completed during your development

"If you make a mistake, you’ve got to admit it and you’ve got to work on a fix. If you try and hide that mistake and cover it up it’s only going to fester and it’s only going to get bigger and bigger and then it’s going to blow up."

Robb York

VP of Engineering - Automotive Division at Engineered Plastic Components


Hello, everybody, I am Rob York from engineering plastic components EPC. And I am the Vice President of Engineering for our company in the automotive division, joining you from sunny Michigan today, it’s a little chilly, but it is sunny out here, which is kind of rare in during the winter, but it is sunny. And so I’m going to join you from my house because that’s what we do here in Michigan A lot of times, oh, during our fun COVID time, so bear with me with the video, I’d much prefer doing this in person and seeing you guys know in person, but this is what we have to do. And we all work together. We’ll get through this. Hopefully you enjoy what I’ve got to present today with my topic. And if you have any questions, please reach out to me at any time. And I’d love to discuss with you and maybe like and learn some things for you. Alrighty, so what I’m going to show you and present today is my history of developing projects with OEMs. And playing the game because it is a game, you got to treat it as a game, you can’t get, you know, get defensive about a lot of things when they come when it comes to it, you get to play a game, you got to play hard, you got to work together. And when you come out, everybody gets the dub, everybody gets the win. Oh, so this way, I’m going to try and talk to you because I’m a coach, and I coach lots of different things, I coach basketball, I coach the prospect coach football, and I use a lot of those things that I do in coaching in my development. And I use some of my development stuff for my coaching too. So it’s kind of a win win for me and in both of those in realms. So But enough of that I’m going to get into my presentation, hopefully you enjoy it. And we’ll get through this. So being in a build to print supplier and how to play the game and how to get the win at the end. So three things that I like to touch on today is first thing, make sure you spend time upfront and getting all your requirements defined. It’s okay to say no. And how do you bring home the dub at the end. 

So the first thing is getting all your requirements defined up front, this is one of the key points, you have to spend time upfront and make sure you get things to find you spend the time upfront will save you time later on, in having lots of conversations, lots of meetings with their customer on Well, I didn’t know this, or I thought you were going to do this or this is not unclear. So spend the time upfront the big thing, your T’s and C’s terms and conditions, make sure you understand it. I know it’s a huge document and it’s long, but go through that and make sure you understand all your payment terms, all your you know who’s responsibility, everything like that. And the key thing is your roles responsibility, who is supposed to do what, as a design, build the print supplier, the customer is responsible for the design, and you are there to help in design. But what are you there to help with? Are you there to help with feasibility for tooling? Are you there for design feasibility? Are you there for testing, you know, there’s lots of different aspects of the of those roles and Ron’s responsibilities chart that you need to make sure you understand that you have the proper resources set up to handle the task that you need to do. So review those race IQ charts that you get, and you know, it says an S or you’re responsible for our or your S for support, or you’re there for just information, make sure those are clear. And you’re so w that you get. And you’re clear on what you have to do up front. Your part requirements, they’re responsible for the design, and which is kind of makes it hard as a build to print supplier because you have to make what they give you. And so you need to understand it, make sure you can make what they what they’re giving you. They’re gonna give you some stuff that probably you can’t do. And you need to make sure that you’ve voiced that upfront, and let them know that and that you understand that when you’re developing this part, you understand all the components that go with it. And what you’re going to have to do at the end, how am I tolerances are going to be? how tight are those going to be? How am I going to have to check my parts during production? And do I have to do one part every day and check it and do my full complete? Or am I have to do three parts a day, per shift, all of those things are key and they kind of hide those things in there. So that maybe you sign up for it and you didn’t check it and then you’re stuck with it. So spend time looking at what you need to do on your part requirements for all that good stuff, your P pap requirements. Another key point, you got to understand that when you’re going to validate your part, what are you supposed to do what part what part of the parts are you going to have to validate? You know you have 20 steps in your process, but some of them are there. gonna focus on because every customer is different. So you’re going to have to make sure you understand you, when your customers what is very important to them, you know, a lot of drawings, getting those done your capability, some people like 300 piece or 120 piece, or just a 30 piece capability, you need to understand what you’re going to have to do and make sure you get that defined upfront so that you know, when I’m going to pee, Pap, and I have to show capability, do I do 30 parts? Do I do 60 parts? Do I do 90 parts? Do I do 120 parts, and you can work with your customers, sometimes customers will say, Hey, I know this one’s fine, we can do a 30 part, get it in writing, get it in writing. So that you know later on that you have all this in writing when that person may leave, and a new person comes in and he totally changes, you know, the whole landscape of what you were signed up to, you have it in writing, or he or she comes back and says Nope, this is what I want, though, you have this in writing of what you need to do. So make sure you spend time upfront. document everything you get, and then review and make sure you can meet everything that you can do that you’re signing up for in this program. Next, it’s okay to say no, you can say no, you’re not designed responsible with this project they are and so they’re going to force things on you that maybe you can’t do. And you need to say no. And you need to say no early, because if you don’t, you’re going to live with it for the life of the program. So it’s okay to say no, but there’s always a key thing you got to do, you have to give them a but the budget is huge. Okay, I can say no, but you have to say that and say what you can do. And then you can work on it. And maybe they’ll agree to it, because they’re going to push you they’re going to push you because they want to try and get the best part they can for the money that they you know they’re assigned to it, but they’re going to push you and it’s okay to say Nope, I can’t meet that tolerance. But I can meet this tolerance. And if you say that you got those, you got the setup to start negotiating on what you can meet and what you can work to. But it’s okay to say no. And then if you if you can’t get to some type of agreement, and you have a problem, then you need to go to your ally, your buddy in this in, in the company, whether it be a purchasing person, whether it be a quality person, it may be a plant person, and then you talk to them and you start working with them to try and get to an agreement. And then when you get to a final outcome, get it written down whatever it is, because if it deviates from what was original, what are the key things, you got to get it written down, and you got to get it approved. So you get the drawings updated, you get the SLR updated, you get the rolls, updated, you get your P pap requirements updated, make sure you get it written down, and somebody signs it, and you get it back to your, your, your group, and that you have it. Because always this is a long, most of these programs, program developments are two years, and a lot of people move in and out for two years. So you may start with a guy who’s your design engineer or your quality person at the beginning of it. And sometimes they move on. And they bring in a whole nother person who has a whole different view on what they want and how they want it. And that’s great. But you signed this document over here, you did not sign this document over here. So get it written down, get it approved, and hold on to it. And it’s okay to say no. Lastly, bringing home the dub bringing home the W four you and your customer because you want it to be a win win. You don’t want to just be you know, you win and they lose because that’s not going to be good. They’re not going to be happy. And they’re going to come back at you and you want to win because you need to win, because you got to be profitable, and you have to keep winning. So some of the things that you got to do when you get into development. And it’s a long, long process. You got to make sure you stay focused on what your task are. And don’t let them rattle you with lots of other things because they’re going to come at you with lots of different things that they want to be done. And you need to make sure you stay focused on what is your task. So they’re going to come up with engineering changes, they’re going to come at well look at this investigation, hey, what if we do this or what if we do that, that’s great. Focus on what you need to do at that time. In the point of the development, you can say hey, okay, I can work on it. But I’m going to work on this I need to work on this right now to get this done. Or we’re going to lose out on this going forward. And you need to make sure you state that clearly that okay, if you want me to do this, this is the trade off that you’re going to lose. So you have a big investigation. They want to change some part big part portion on your part because they’ve got some issue. Okay, great. But I got to work on this. If you want me to work on this, it’s going to be We got to get a trade off what’s going to miss out. But hopefully, maybe you have enough resources, you can handle it if you can take it on and do it. But try and stay focused on what you need to get done at your time, because I know you only have a limited amount of resources and limited amount of time. So if you get distracted on any little thing on the outside, it will spin off this way. And it’ll keep going, and you’ll lose focus. And that’s a hard time to come back into where you need to be. Next, don’t be afraid to ask for help. They’re there, a lot of times, they want you to ask for help. Because, you know, they like to help and they want to make sure you’re succeeding. Because they succeed if you succeed, and if you you know, don’t have an answer to something or you’re not sure about something, ask for help. Ask your you know, your your person in the company, your customer who can help you who you can really talk to who you really build that relationship with, and ask for help, they’re be there to help, they’re not going to not help you. in that organization, they’re going to be there because they want to they want to win too.

This is a hard one, this next one is a hard one. But you’ve got to do it. If you make a mistake, you’ve got to admit it, and you got to work on a fix. If you try and hide that mistake and cover it up, it’s only going to fester. And it’s only going to get bigger and bigger, and then it’s going to blow up. But if you come out and say hey, we made a mistake, we’re gonna This is what’s going to happen. But what this is what we’re going to do to try and recover from it. They’re going to be more open and more trying to help you then if you just hide it. I know it’s, you know, everybody says no, no, don’t, don’t tell the customer don’t tell the customer. Well, I’ve done it a lot of times when people not told the customer and it’s gone on and gone on. And then finally you get the point where it comes out. And it’s twice as bad out here. Anyone you could have said something here and got it fixed. And they could help you and help write the wrong and you’re back on track. So be humble when you do it. Don’t try and blame somebody else, especially if you know it’s your responsibility. Take on that mistake, admit it, they’re going to be respect you more that way. Then if you try and you know, blame something else, or do something, if you make a mistake, admit it, ask for help and move on. The next thing, make sure you have extra resources ready to help when you when it’s needed. Because in these development programs, you know, when you get down towards launch and builds of development builds, you’re going to need extra people, it always happens. And they always say, well, you have any more resources, have those people those thoughts in mind beforehand. So when they come and ask you, you already have them ready and available to help help out. Especially during launch, when you’ve got lots of things going on. Lots of people doing lots of things, there’s more than the majority, these programs are big, you get lots of different tools, you got lots of different parts, you got lots of different part numbers, you get lots of different things that are going on. And you need extra people to help during those times whether it be you know, measuring parts, whether it’s doing capability studies, whether it’s doing run at rates, where it’s you know, helping with the P pap documents, all of those things, you have those people available, so they can come in and help help you, your customer will like that if you say Hey, I got three quality engineers coming in from our other plant. I’ve got, you know, these people coming in, who got this experience, they’re coming in to help. And they’re already ready. And they’re already identified. If you go in and you don’t have enough resources, and they’re saying, hey, you need more people, the more people like yeah, we’re gonna think about getting this guy or maybe we can get this guy, they’re not going to have any confidence in in that statements you have. So you’ve got to have these people lined up and ready to go, when you’re going to need it and make sure they’re, they know what’s coming, and they can be ready to go. And lastly, when you get done, and it’s all over with, and you done everything you can do and everything is launched and the struggle for two years or plus of this development. And it’s a long, long game. Celebrate, celebrate just like you won the Superbowl. Make sure you thank everybody who was there to help you have a party do all that. That’s one thing that kind of gets left off with all these development programs that you do. A successful launch is huge. If you can say you had a successful launch of your program, you need to state it, you need to celebrate it and you need to thank everybody who helped you along the way. Because it’s a huge it’s a huge feat to get a successful launch and have your customer recognize it. You recognize it, and then you recognize the people who helped you get it.

So,take that time. Enjoy it, learn from it, make sure you learn from what you did. So the next time you do it, you can do it again. So, celebrate, enjoy, take the W, and have fun. And hopefully you guys learned something from this. It’s pretty quick. But, um, if you’ve got any questions, you can get ahold of me, reach out to me, and I’d love to talk and listen to you guys. And maybe you guys got some things that I can learn from. So appreciate it. Enjoy, have a good winter, and hopefully in the spring we can all meet again sometime. Thank you

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