Firms can manage their sourcing better by developing relationships not only with their suppliers but with their suppliers' suppliers, according to two papers co-written by a University of Illinois supply chain management expert.
Automakers like Ford rely on thousands of tier-one suppliers to provide the materials, parts and services to make its final products. Many suppliers serve numerous automakers, and each of those suppliers, in turn, has multiple suppliers. Other industries' supply chains (such as electronics) are intertwined into the automotive supply chain. There are often six to 10 levels of suppliers between an automaker and the source of raw materials that eventually enter the manufacturing process. The breadth, depth and interconnectedness of the automotive supply chain make it especially challenging to effectively manage business and sustainability issues.