Quest for Excellence: 3M Automotive
“More than just delivering new products, we try to craft a creative solution that will yield process and productivity savings.”
— Patrick Sullivan, 3M
More than any other Top 10 Supplier, 3M truly is a household name known for quality and innovation. “There is a certain predisposition to our credibility,” says Patrick Sullivan, marketing manager. “Our products actually do what we say they will do. Our products are born of innovative spirit that differentiates them as having premium value.
“From the materials right through the delivery chain we bring all of our technology directly to the OEs, and the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in such a way that we build a productivity story rather than a piece price story. More than just delivering new products, we try to craft a creative solution that will yield process and productivity savings. And a good hit rate on a process change really solidifies your position.”
Asked to innumerate 3M’s pillars of success, Sullivan lists: innovating products and technologies that deliver value; launch support and continuous technical service; industry knowledgeable people of high character; global coordination and support; and to be change agents for mutual benefit.
“We will not unbundle our products from what is critical to the overall value package,” says Sullivan “The application creativity is what makes us change agents for increasing productivity.” 3M adapted Six Sigma methodology a few years back and has “black belts” residents with some OEMs.
“It takes a great deal of custom tailoring for each OE or Tier 1. We continually make investments in our relationships and our launch support so the programs are successful process after process. We are in the plant until the launch is right. Constancy is a virtue,” adds Sullivan. 3M supports its customers in 24 countries and has three technical developments centers in Neuss, Germany, for Europe, Tokyo for Asia, and Minneapolis, Minn., for the Americas.