82 www. bus- ex. com July 09 2008 a South African supplier making clutch pedal assemblies went into administration. " We anticipated that might happen and were able to respond quickly, approach Land Rover and pick up the business. Since January we have been supplying parts to Solihull," says Beaumont, and as a result, further business is being negotiated. In this case, he says, though Land Rover is no longer in the Ford stable, without Ford Q1 status Ramsay would have had no chance of winning this contract. The OEMs may not be selling as many cars, but as long as they are making any they still need components. At the end of 2008 Ramsay was supplying 144 products to Toyota alone, up to 380,000 parts a month. Now, though volumes have been reduced, it is supplying 188 SKIs, an increase that will pay dividends when volumes go up again. Beaumont can't praise Toyota highly enough for the support it has given his company in achieving best practices in lean manufacturing, JIT practices, quality control and even training. Everyone is encouraged to read Jeffrey Liker's The Toyota Way, and the relationship is solid. However, much future growth is likely to come from other partnerships, principally Ford and BMW, with which Ramsay is developing some very exciting programmes, according to Beaumont. The first of these is a supply partnership with PWO of Germany to develop and manufacture a cross- car beam for the new 3- series range. " It runs underneath the dashboard, and all the components like the radio, air bags and air conditioner are attached to it," he explains. " It's a big step forward for us. They want it supplied fully assembled to the BMW plant at Rosslyn near Pretoria, which is 400 miles from Pietermaritzburg. So it's going to mean setting up a facility at Pretoria. That's our next big challenge." The new facility will be mainly an assembly operation supplied from Pietermaritzburg, but into the same plant will be moved some of the production for Ford components in anticipation of the launch of the new dual- cab T6 Ranger pickup in 2010. That vehicle will also be manufactured in Pretoria, and Ramsay will be able to supply both plants from its new factory, expected to cost 30- 40 million Rand. South African companies are expected to show progress toward Black Economic Empowerment ( BEE), and Ramsay has found two effective ways of doing this. One is through a training programme it has entered with MERSETA, the government body responsible for training in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. " We have about 100 employees, former employees and people who have no prior connection with Ramsay going through at the moment. We were worried that if we lost staff in the downturn, we would be left with a lack of skills afterwards; getting points on our BEE scorecard is secondary. It's part of our corporate social development strategy." Social development at Ramsay Engineering is indistinguishable from supply chain improvement, in fact. " One of the fundamental philosophies of the Toyota Way is to develop your partners, and we are engaging with our suppliers in the effort to make more cost- effective components"
Ramsay Engineering throws out examples of how business has accrued. Sewing technology might seem non- core in a second-tier automotive supplier, but it's as well Pietermaritzburg used to be the centre of South Africa's shoe industry, he explains. " When Toyota ran into problems sourcing gear locks, they came to us because we were making the handbrake cover that also goes over the gear lock- now we are making the whole assembly for the Corolla and the Hilux- and when they changed from wire to plastic for the frame that supports it, we were able to pick that up too, because we were able to find capacity in our injection moulding shop. At one point we just supplied a wheel spanner for the Hilux, but we ended up making the other tools that go into the bag, stitching the bag itself and supplying the entire toolkit." It's a simple matter of adding value, he says, a basic key to growth, even in difficult times. - Editorial research by Jon Bradley July 09 www. bus- ex. com 83 Toyota has helped Ramsay to embrace the TPS, JIT production and Dojo training that upskills staff through simulation, and it's only self- interest to pass that excellence along the supply chain. " One of the fundamental philosophies of the Toyota Way is to develop your partners," says Stuart, " and we are engaging with our suppliers in the effort to make more cost-effective components. We have a number of suppliers that a few years ago were very basic engineering companies but now have TQM and are ISO 9001 accredited, while some of them are going for ISO 14000, the environmental standard. It's making a real difference." Looking forward, Ramsay Engineering intends to leverage the export opportunities of its existing trading and joint venture operations with partners like PWO and the Swedish accessories group Thule. It will continue to play to its singular ability to say " yes" to new business that adds value for its customers. It's a challenge for the technical director to keep up across such a diverse business, Beaumont admits, as he