Quest for Excellence: Robert Bosch Corp.
“Better and better cooperation and communication is the key and we are getting much more specific information recently from the OEs on their expectations.”
— Lee Manduzzi, Robert Bosch Corp.
This is a company that wins its business with innovation and then keeps it with quality and cost consciousness. According to Lee Manduzzi, executive vice president of sales, “the key characteristics that our customers think about with Bosch are technology and innovation. That’s where Bosch has built its reputation, especially in the area of electronics for things like advanced braking systems, fuel systems and interior modules.”
Bosch was awarded some 2,000 patents last year and is well on its way to a similar showing this year. Hot areas for future growth include electronic stability program (ESP) systems. Being able to go fast is one thing, being able to control it is another. And in North America, Bosch expects diesel to be a big part of the future by the end of the decade and it’s here that its capabilities are so well renowned.
After innovation, Bosch stresses quality. “We put great effort into our performance with respect to quality. For most of the products we supply we have single digit PPMs. We have occasional flyers and obviously try to react quickly to resolve problems.
“We also work very hard within our customer’s cost reduction programs to meet their expectations. We don’t consider ourselves to be price leaders, but I also feel we can compete with anybody when you take into account the technology and the quality demands. Product simplicity is the crucial factor here. Taking out complexity at the design stage is the way of achieving these objectives.”
The company developed a system called Bosch Product System (BPS), which is a lean manufacturing system methodology that is employed at Bosch facilities globally. That is primarily for manufacturing, but Bosch also looks at some of the softer time to market processes like engineering changes procedures, quotations procedures, product development procedures and administrative procedures. The idea is to better streamline those processes and meet customer expectations. Try to make those as efficient and consistent as possible.
With technical development centers in Detroit, Stuttgart, Germany, and Yokohama, Japan, and application engineering locations wherever required, Bosch tries to stay as close to the customer as possible tailoring product to specific markets and models.
The challenge to the supplier is to figure out how to align with each of the systems of the different OEMs to meet their expectations and needs. Some have more accelerated product development schedules. Other have a more robust, freewheeling engineering change process making changes up to the last minute. They all have their own idiosyncrasies and they all must be accommodated.
All boiled down, says Manduzzi, “better and better cooperation and communication is the key and we are getting much more specific information recently from the OEs on their expectations. With all the current incentives the consumer is in the driver’s seat and he demands more for less or more content for the same cost. Product differentiators are drivers in the purchasing decision.”