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Delivering parts to a modern American automotive plant from New Zealand must be a little like landing jets on an aircraft carrier: there's that tiny, fixed target at the end of a long journey over an endless ocean.
In the case of Australia New Zealand Direct Line (ANZDL), that means supplying Ford Motor Co. with alloy wheels and other parts on a just-in-time basis, from a source 10,000 miles away.
ANZDL has been carrying wheels from Auckland on behalf of Ford for more than a decade. Most of the product moves straight to the automaker's plants in Chicago, Atlanta and Edison, N.J., says Bob Beilin, senior vice president at the carrier's North American headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. This year, St. Louis will be added as a destination.
The relationship began when Ford awarded ANZDL a small percentage of its aluminum wheel movements from a Ford plant in New Zealand to North America, says Tracy Flaggs, global transportation purchasing manager at the Dearborn, Mich. headquarters. ANZDL now has all of that business, Flaggs says.
Subsequently, ANZDL was handed a wide range of Ford's aftermarket parts moving out of Australia, from small items to engine components. It carries some production materials in that trade as well. Over the years, ANZDL has also participated in Ford's southbound production parts business to Australia. A new contract, which ANZDL was on the verge of signing in mid-May, involves the movement of Ford parts from Detroit to Melbourne for production of the Falcon, a family sedan, Beilin says.
Flaggs describes ANZDL as "a niche carrier" in Ford's stable of international providers, but it's a highly valued one. In 1996, ANZDL became the first ocean carrier to receive Ford's Quality First (Q1) award for non-production purchasing. Established in 1982, the Q1 program sets pre-determined service levels for all Ford suppliers. It combines ISO certification criteria with Ford's own analysis of supplier performance in the areas of continuous improvement, customer focus and satisfaction, structured team problem-solving, and business planning.
As part of the evaluation, ANZDL received a visit from a group of Ford auditors. "It was like a mini-ISO/Baldrige team," says Beilin, referring to the U.S. Commerce Department's Malcolm Baldrige award for quality. Ford compared the carrier in 24 service areas with its own strict total quality management processes. The automaker also conducts a quality operating system (QOS) assessment of ANZDL every six months, a process Beilin says he looks forward to "with relish."
|Ford treats shipments in transit as "floating inventory." Any delays must be communicated instantly to the plant.|
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