Actively involved in AIAG’s Quality Steering Committee since its inception 18 years ago — and a continuous member for the last 14 years — Dave Mimms, general manager of Quality Strategy Management for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., shares his thoughts about why he has stayed active in AIAG and what he thinks the industry still has to accomplish, in this exclusive interview with AIAG Quality e-News.
AIAG: You’re a busy person, and there are plenty of automotive industry organizations you could be involved with…Why are you so committed to AIAG?
Mimms: I’m stubborn, I guess. If I pick it, I stick to it. But seriously, I continue to be intrigued by the benefits that Toyota gets from being involved in AIAG. At the time when I first became active with AIAG, Toyota was an outsider — “that company from Japan” — and we wanted to be seen as a contributor to the North American automotive industry.
The more we looked at what AIAG was trying to do, the more we realized that we weren’t that different from the others — we all want to deliver the best quality at the best value to the customer.
AIAG: Where has Toyota been able to contribute to AIAG initiatives and activities?
Mimms: Problem-Solving Guidelines — Toyota was an original contributor to that, and it’s something I’m very passionate about. We need to protect the customer when there is a problem, to quickly contain it and protect them. We had some very energizing discussions with OEMs and suppliers in the creation of that guideline. We all wanted to protect the consumer. If we don’t give customers confidence in the quality of our products, nothing else really matters.
Also, Special Process Guidelines. Through AIAG, we got the technical experts talking to each other, and all agreed on what needed to be done. We were able to put together something very beneficial to the industry. These guidelines provide really good insight on what it takes to guarantee a good quality product.
AIAG: What are some of the specific benefits from AIAG membership that you’ve experienced?
Mimms: The opportunity to be an influencer of common guidelines and tools for the improvement of the industry. The chance to shape best practices and accepted practices.
The return on investment in membership is huge because there is no other place where you can find this level of collaboration among all automotive industry stakeholders.
AIAG: What work is still left to be done?
Mimms: While the Quality Steering Committee is not trying to harmonize all of the OEM requirements, we are trying to make it easier for the supplier community by identifying or developing universally accepted guidelines and best practices. AIAG is also working with the European automotive community on a new FMEA Guideline, which will positively influence the global automotive industry. It will be an easy way for OEMs to communicate to a huge supply base, all the way down to the lowest tiers.
I’m also encouraged by the AIAG Traceability Work Group, which started earlier this year. There are a lot more recalls now than there used to be. We need to be able to pinpoint the customer or customers that are specifically affected by a recall as fast as possible. The idea is to have accurate traceability from the OEM all the way down to the raw material supplier.
AIAG: Is that really possible?
Mimms: New technology is making it more feasible for that one-to-one idea, where a suspect part is identified and we know exactly what customer has it. But if we are asking suppliers to do that, we need to commonize the support. At this point, the Traceability Work Group is working now on understanding the state of the industry and what technologies are out there.
What’s the ideal state of traceability? I’m not sure we will ever get there, but we are taking solid steps in that direction.
AIAG: Who can benefit most from AIAG membership?
Mimms: All OEMs manufacturing in North America should be involved. And they all need to come to the table at the Quality Steering Committee and participate.
Also, participation among the supplier community is key. Suppliers make up 75 percent of a car. A healthy and robust supply chain is the secret to success. The year 2008 was a very tough time for the industry, and we survived it because OEMs and suppliers worked together. So it makes sense for us to collaborate and make sure the supply chain stays strong.
This spirit of cooperation and healthy competition is what is unique about AIAG. We’re not trying to remove the competition — naturally, we compete with each other very hard. But we all recognize that a healthy supply chain is critical to our success.
Carla Kalogeridis is AIAG eNews editor.