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FCA’s Marc Brazeau: ‘In an Automotive Supply Chain, Diversity of Thought Drives Better Decisions’

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Marc A. Brazeau was appointed head of logistics for FCA US LLC in July 2017. In this position, he is responsible for logistics and transportation activities to support the entire FCA US manufacturing footprint, including shipment of finished vehicles, inbound transportation of manufacturing parts and materials, and operating FCA Transport, the FCA US-owned truck fleet.

Brazeau has held positions on various sides of the supply chain – in the supplier community with Canadian Pacific Railway, as a shipper with FCA US, and as a consultant. He is a former chairman of the AIAG’s Finished Vehicle Supply Chain Visibility Committee and has published several industry benchmarking studies, contributed to supply chain publication articles, and been a regular panelist or speaker at global supply chain conferences.

Canadian-born, Brazeau holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta (2000).

AIAG: What did you learn from your early jobs in logistics?

Marc BrazeauBrazeau: I started my supply chain career in the rail industry while in college. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of learning the various sides of the supply chain: in the supplier community with Canadian Pacific Railway, as a shipper with FCA, and as a consultant. And now, as the head of logistics for FCA-North America, I am responsible for logistics and transportation activities to support the company’s entire manufacturing footprint.

Throughout this time, I’ve gravitated toward roles that involve a great deal of matrix influencing, which taught me the importance of multi-stakeholder consensus and the need to consider many points of view when developing workable solutions to the issues of the day. It may take slightly longer to get to the right answer, but diversity of thought drives better decisions and is well worth the time. Automotive supply chains are generally shared asset networks, so industry collaboration on things like visibility, transparency, and innovation are critical to our continuous improvement efforts.

 AIAG: What’s the difference between supply chain visibility and transparency?

Brazeau: Good question. Visibility can be as simple as knowing where material and shipments are at any given point in the supply chain.

Transparency is having a greater understanding of how the interrelated processes and physical handling impact the overall supply chain, asset and capacity planning, inventory management, transit performance, quality processes, and all related shipment information data. Visibility improves our ability to operate, but transparency promotes collaboration and innovation.

For the last 30 years, the industry has focused on visibility tools to improve processes and quality performance. Now, the rapid pace of emerging technologies (both in the supply chain industry as well as in-vehicle technologies) will allow us all to curate more transparent and meaningful data to drive better design decisions, improve handling processes, and lower the barriers of entry for more functional innovation in shipment management.

AIAG: What disruptive innovation will have the greatest impact on the supply chain?

Brazeau: The connected vehicle has the promise of being a significant disruptor in the automotive supply chain — not only because it will drive new innovations into the finished vehicle distribution network, but also for how those innovations and investments can be leveraged across the parts and materials networks.

FCA is developing a new connected ecosystem, which will launch later this year and be across our global fleet by 2022. This ecosystem will deliver a faster, more convenient, and fully integrated connected customer experience for vehicle owners in more than 150 countries. In collaboration with HARMAN-Samsung and Google, we have developed a flexible, easy-to-use, and connected ecosystem that not only deploys today’s technology, but is also ready to integrate upcoming innovations.

It’s innovations like these that will be leveraged to improve industrial distribution from plant to dealer. Telematics information like location, tire pressure, remote battery management, and fuel levels will simplify in-transit inventory, reduce the need for preventative maintenance, better identify operational outliers, and produce earlier notice of potential issues or disruptions.

AIAG: How can AIAG drive best practices for the connected automotive age?

Brazeau: Everyone at FCA appreciates the work AIAG does and believes it provides the structure and resources to safely collaborate on industry standards, share best practices, and promote open and transparent dialogue regarding emerging opportunities and risks. As long as we continue together on that mission, we can create best-in-class operations.