The car industry has been in flux over the past several years as automotive OEMs have struggled with accurate vehicle model forecasts and the fleeting whims of supply and demand.
Manufacturers, tier suppliers and warehouse operators are finding the economics to be volatile, unpredictable forces. Yet, forecasts are necessary to steer manufacturing plant logistics and capital investment strategies.
Decades ago, anticipating consumer demand by as much as 5-6 years down the road was surprisingly reliable. Now, projecting types and styles of vehicles with any degree of confidence is tenuous at best – even looking out just two years.
Consequently, there have been cases where new assembly plants are built to produce a specific model only to see demand quickly evaporate. Then car manufacturers are confronted with complicated re-tooling and platform/production line changes. Or worse, they face facilities being shuttered at a tremendous loss.
“As a result of desire to adapt to changes in customer demand and create flexible manufacturing plants, we find logistics, Tier 1, and OEM companies searching for flexible capital commitments...
“... (they) are looking at various strategies to build the right vehicles in the right places for the right reasons.”Area Development - “Logistics Challenges in a Changing Auto Industry” by Kerry Zielinski, Vice President, Business Development, CEVA Logistics
A silver lining among ominous clouds
One very promising solution for auto OEMs is to rely on greater speed, flexibility and responsiveness in facility planning, location, assembly, and deployment. This may necessitate building closer to where demand exists in the U.S. and abroad. More importantly, it will require capitalizing on greatly condensed build schedules and less costly, smaller footprint building shells.
These structural shells with wide, column-free interior spaces can be designed to facilitate easier production line changes and significantly lower operating costs. Also, a design-build with engineered systems construction approach can shrink schedules by many months. So assembly plants can become operational much sooner, closing the gap between available supply and forecasted demand to make OEM projections financially and realistically achievable.
With engineered systems construction, highly energy-efficient, weathertight wall and roof systems are fabricated in the factory (off-site) and construction becomes more efficient on site, reducing risks while expediting the erection process.
In addition, certain metal roof systems, such as the MR-24 roof system from Butler deliver 90% lower maintenance costs than conventional TPO roofs, along with in-place performance of over 45 years without need for replacement. When natural daylighting and efficient lighting control systems are added, energy costs can be reduced by as much as 50 to 70% a year.
Faster to build. More affordable to operate. More flexible to adapt capacity and production line changes. These represent real solutions to OEMs’ and Tier suppliers’ difficult challenges.
Butler Manufacturing™ has capabilities that today’s Auto OEMs are seeking.
Butler Manufacturing and its network of Butler Builders can accommodate any building designs, not restrict them, by utilizing a variety of structural systems that allow interior clear spans of up to 60 feet. This is ideal for manufacturing plants, warehouses and distribution facilities. Also, greater design flexibility allows for trouble-free facility expansion with minimal cost or disruption should a sustained increase in demand trigger the need.
Another strategic value and benefit of working with Butler Manufacturing is dealing with a single-source, turnkey solutions provider that offers complete design-build construction services, global reach and extensive experience in the automotive industry.
Throughout its long history, Butler® building systems have been used on a wide variety of automotive facilities for all the major industry brands. From automotive manufacturing facilities to stunning retail showrooms, the top auto brands have trusted Butler Manufacturing and their extensive Butler Builder® network.
As the automotive industry evolves, those companies that react to competition and dynamic markets with new time-saving, cost-reducing facility deployment strategies will be the clear winners.