Skills programme launched for automotive supply chain

A national skills programme is being launched to improve the ability of the UK’s automotive supply chain to support the development of new product launches in the car industry.

New product launch excellence (NPLX) – aimed at ensuring the perfect conditions for launches that meet cost, quality and delivery targets – is one of the industry’s answers to making UK manufacturers more competitive on a global stage.

The programme has been designed in conjunction with UK manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, Caterpillar, Bentley, JCB and Toyota. Each will encourage their suppliers to take part.

It will be delivered by Birmingham-based Industry Forum, the consultancy and training provider for manufacturers that was set up by the government and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). NPLX is endorsed by the Automotive Council.

“The only guaranteed way for manufacturers to cope with Brexit, whatever it means, is to become more globally competitive. OEMs and suppliers who get launches right will get their products to volume production and the market quicker, they will be able to reduce risk, grow their businesses and be more profitable,” said Industry Forum CEO, Dr Chris Owen.

“We want the UK supply chain to be seen by both domestic and international OEMs as the most competitive choice. Traditionally, the manufacturing function has seen new product introduction as a burden because it affects the smooth running of a factory, but we intend to demonstrate how it can be a positive lever for competitive growth for OEMs and the hundreds of supply chain companies that support them.”

The NPLX curriculum targets four areas in particular, new suppliers, build to print, complex build to print and design & manufacture businesses.

The programme, which starts later this month, has been designed to be as cost-effective as possible and has been made possible by leveraging national volume across OEMs and tier one suppliers. The SMMT is offering an initial subsidy to its members to reduce the cost to suppliers.