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Magna’s Bridget Grewal: "Standards for RFID Tags Opened Up the World”

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Bridget Grewal is packaging continuous improvement director for Magna and a long-time AIAG leader and volunteer. Her most recent work includes helping AIAG complete the newer RC-18 publication and now orchestrating a version 2 of that same document. In this interview, Grewal talks about the work she’s found most rewarding and gives advice on how to get more from your AIAG membership.

What has been your supply chain career path?

BGrewalGrewal: I graduated from the School of Packaging at Michigan State University and went into pharmaceutical packaging. But it wasn’t a good pace for me — it was too slow. Someone suggested I look at automotive. I got hired by Ford and worked on their first greening project for returnable containers. I really enjoyed my work. I created a fleet calculator in 1994 that is still in use today — and that was before the internet!

After Ford, I was a project manager at DCT and then managed material handling at The Budd Company and later at ThyssenKrupp. Then the 2008 economic downturn happened, and I started consulting for companies like Polaris and Caterpillar. Eventually, I got recruited by Magna in 2013. At Magna, I have 120 plants to support in terms of packaging. My job is to implement packaging standards and identify opportunities to improve processes. I am continually assessing the plants and looking at optimization strategies in areas like sustainability and quality assurance.

How did you get involved with AIAG?

Grewal: I was asked to teach AIAG’s packaging program, which is part of the AIAG Auto Industry Certificate in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management course. I have been doing it for several years, and it’s very rewarding because the students are not there specifically for packaging — they are there learning about various areas of supply chain management. To be able to give them access to the packaging world is very rewarding for me. I also try to attend all of AIAG’s supply chain summits, and I’ve spoken at AIAG events.

What has been some of your favorite work at AIAG?

Grewal: I’ve enjoyed what we’ve accomplished in sensor technology. Ford, Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota came to Magna to strategize on how to standardize sensor technologies. We brought the project to AIAG. The goal was to help suppliers use the same equipment when dealing with any OEM, to be able to read everyone’s tags across all OEMs and all tiers.

We needed an asset tracking standard that counts and tracks containers and checks inventories. Containers were ending up at the wrong plants, and we were losing containers that are very valuable to one plant but were being trashed by another plant.

We got the sensor technology people on the team. Several providers volunteered to help figure out how different solutions could be layered on top of each other to give the capability to monitor things on the road. Through this collaborative work, we created a great document called “Using RFID, BLE, and LPWA Sensor Technology (RC-18).” Designing standards for RFID tags opened up the world.

Since the first edition came out, people have come to us for additional advice. So now we’re now on our second revision of the document, working to show use cases and how you would implement these technologies in, for example, a trailer control yard or an inventory control plant.

Why should automotive professionals get involved in AIAG?

Grewal: AIAG is very broad and covers a lot of the challenges our industry is addressing. AIAG gives us the standards we need to operate more efficiently. It is an organization we can rely on, and it gives us a safety net. I know I can always go to AIAG for resources.

Plus, the AIAG community is awesome. The AIAG staff is always supportive and gives whatever resources they have. If I was by myself at Magna trying to work everything out, I would not be able to accomplish much. The AIAG process helps everything solidify. AIAG provides the clear path to approval.

What is your advice to AIAG members or automotive supply chain professionals who are not yet involved?

Grewal: Start with the AIAG Auto Industry Certificate in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management class perhaps. It gives you a broad understanding of what has already been established as guidelines. Take the class and decide what you want to learn more about. AIAG gives you strength and determination as you figure out your own goals. That’s really key.

If you’re not currently using your membership, start by working on a strategy of how to get involved. Volunteer… get on a project team. Say that you’re willing to volunteer and collaborate, and I’m sure your colleagues will snatch you up.



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