Yusuf Williams, a material qualification engineer with Harman, has found great value in serving as the North America representative of the Supplier Alliance. The Supplier Alliance is comprised of AIAG (North America), CLEPA (Europe), and JAPIA (Japan and Asia Pacific). Its purpose is for the three associations to collaborate and share information on laws, regulations, and materials compliance rules coming out of their region.
“The Supplier Alliance interfaces with the supply chain on the rules governing it,” says Williams. “It allows suppliers to get their voices heard on issues regarding materials reporting.”
Williams serves on the Supplier Alliance not only as a representative of Harman individually, but also as a representative of the North American supply base. He says many AIAG members might not realize that participation is open to any automotive supply company. There is no limit to the number of companies that can be individually represented on the Supplier Alliance.
Most of the meetings take place via conference call, and there are two face-to-face meetings each year that occur somewhere with the three regions served. Typically, the meetings are tied to other automotive events or conferences where Supplier Alliance members may be in attendance, Williams notes.
“I can see how some Tier 3 and Tier 4 companies may find participation cost prohibitive,” he says, “but Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies really should take advantage of the value of participating in the Supplier Alliance.”
Williams has an additional tip for his AIAG member colleagues. “If you can’t get involved in the Supplier Alliance itself, get involved in AIAG’s Supplier Alliance Work Group, which is just for North American suppliers. The work group is involved in what the Supplier Alliance brings to the IMDS Steering Committee meetings,” he says. The work group meetings are held quarterly via phone and through WebEx collaborative meeting technology.
Williams says his participation in the Supplier Alliance yields benefits for his company as well as for the North American supply base at large.
“One of our goals in participating in the Supplier Alliance is for automotive material reporting requirements to align with other industries that Harman serves,” he says. “We provide feedback that steers the regulations closer to material reporting requirements in electronics, for example. But the automotive segment definitely has the best reporting system.”
Most importantly, participating in the Supplier Alliance gives his company a voice at the table. “Individual companies have concerns, and it allows you to put forth your interests. Serving on the Supplier Alliance helps get attention focused on your company’s individual interests.”
As an example, Williams points to the upcoming IMDS update. “The rules around Chemistry Manager caused a lot of issues for suppliers,” he says. “Through the Supplier Alliance, we brought those concerns to the IMDS Steering Committee. The Steering Committee took our advice seriously, and some Chemistry Manager rules will be changed to make compliance more realistic. The changes we suggested will help reduce the amount of useless communications that everyone in the industry was receiving when usage of certain materials was unnecessarily flagged.”
Williams points out that the IMDS Steering Committee is comprised of OEMs, so the Supplier Alliance is an invaluable way to bring feedback directly to customers.
For more information on the Supplier Alliance, contact Lecedra Welch, AIAG’s program manager for environmental sustainability, at CR@aiag.org. Welch recently spoke on behalf of AIAG members at a Supplier Alliance meeting in Germany.