Automotive fuel tank producer Inergy recently received Uitenhage-based manufacturer Volkswagen SA’s Supplier of the Year Award for 2002. Click here for all the category winners.

Automotive fuel tank producer Inergy recently received Uitenhage-based manufacturer Volkswagen SA’s Supplier of the Year Award for 2002.

Inergy's plant manager, Ray Heideman, accepted the award from Volkswagen managing director Hans-Christian Maergner at VWSA’s 17th Supplier Awards function, held recently in George. Maergner commended Brits-based Inergy, which was formed from a merger between Solvay and Plastic Omnium, for “its commitment to research and development that has made it a world leader in the manufacture of automotive fuel tanks”.

The Export Supplier of the Year award went to East London-based Lear Corporation - who supply Audi in Germany with stitched leather seat covers - and Gud Filters from Durban were recipients of the Parts and Accessories award.

VWSA rated the following companies as its top ten suppliers for 2002: Baisch Engineering (aluminium pulleys, lock sets, Johannesburg), Behr Group (air-conditioning systems), Kromberg & Schubert (wiring harnesses, East London), NF Die-casting (alloy wheels, Johannesburg), RG Brose (window winder mechanisms, Brits), Takati Petri (steering wheels, Cape Town), Tenneco (exhaust systems and catalytic converters, Port Elizabeth), TI Group (brake pipes, Port Elizabeth) and Valeo Systems (sub-assemblies, Uitenhage).

Speaking at the awards function, VWSA purchasing head Udo Janke said if suppliers planned ahead to make sure they were up-to-date with the latest technology, further business opportunities existed for component exports.

"If we can match the quality, service and global competitiveness that are expected in our major markets, namely Europe, North America and the Far East, the customers will come," said Janke.

"However, it would be naïve on our part if we believe that South Africa should rely on rand devaluation to maintain its competitiveness in the global market place. Some have learned that lesson the hard way over the last few months as the rand has strengthened against all predictions; it is therefore imperative that we get our costs and processes under control."

"We need to be at the forefront of technology, and the only way we can do that is by listening to the customer, getting access to world class technology, getting our people trained in the skills required and doing appropriate investments in equipment and machinery."

Janke said it was important for the component supplier industry to realise that its competitors were not necessarily from Europe, North America or Japan. "Our competitors can now be found in China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Eastern Europe - all of whom have vast markets within their own countries - or are very close to the market place. We cannot rely on the goodwill of the Volkswagen Group to secure additional exports – we have to be better than the suppliers in these countries in terms of our global competitiveness and our ability to add value to local raw materials," he said.

He also said that in terms of component exports for VWSA there had been much assistance from the Volkswagen and Audi purchasing groups in Germany: "In the last three years we doubled the value of our component exports and we are striving for another increase next year. SA component manufacturers are invited to be a part of this business opportunity provided they prove to be cost effective and that there is a strong zero defect culture in the supply chain."

Original article from Car