Sitting Pretty: Managing customer-driven innovations at Faurecia car seating

Assumptions and Scope

There is a general assumption that Faurecia has always been at par with regards to the technology of designing and producing car seats. However, the company has had challenges due to the fact that the major focus for the company was in the design and not the assembling of car seats. This means that the company designed seats to fit into the car models presented to them and failed to address the issue of mounting the seats into cars. This is well documented in the case study on the company. The scope of the study will be on the ability of Faurecia Company to adapt the two-part seat design and production and at the same time reach their original market with the same zeal. Adapting to this design also means that the company can maintain its position in the world industrial player in motor vehicles. It is currently considered to be among the largest three car seat manufacturers. 

Major Issues

Finances

The first major issue is the finances of supporting the new two part design of car seats. The finances that are needed to support the production of cars in two parts is set to rise. This is brought about by the seats having to be produced in two separate parts. This means more material is used in the production process. In business, this translates to reduced profits and more money channeled to production. Faurecia in this instance does not have an option but to adapt the market trend in order to remain relevant in the long run. This issue can only be solved by a top-down operational strategy. The management has to make measurable changes to the organization (Slack, Chambers, & Johnson, 2016). This could mean using the available funds to purchase new and relevant equipment for production.

Recommendations for finances

Faurecia can adapt to the new market trend without suffering huge financial constraints by ensuring that the production of these seats is reduced for a start and gradually increased to match the market demands. This way, the clients of Faurecia will be supplied with seats in smaller quantities giving Faurecia time to establish the new production models profitably.

Expansion of production

There is also an issue with the expansion of activities from just designing the car seat frames to making the complete car seats. Faurecia taking part in the production of the frames and assembling of the seats is taking away the market share of the companies that formerly finished the seats and supplied to the car makers. This is an activity that Faurecia has not been engaging in before. This means that Faurecia has to invest in new technology and employ more personnel. Ultimately, this means that the company is expanding steadily. The issue of expanding the activities of the company represent the top-down view of operations’ strategy (Slack, Chambers, & Johnson, 2016). This means that the company makes decisions on how to operate their business and implements them with smart and measurable precision. This ultimately results in the company being at par with the market demands.

Recommendation for Expansion of production

Owing to the steady expansion of the company’s activities, the production team and the entire management team should be diversified. This is because designing and making the complete seats requires funds and skills. The funds go into purchasing top quality production machinery and skills to assemble the seats to completion needs to be hired. Faurecia in this case should consider methods of achieving economies of scale since the budget of production and delivery cannot be trimmed.

There is an issue with the balancing of clients’, carmakers’, and suppliers’ demands together with maintaining the production of standardized products. Faurecia is faced with many challenges in meeting the demands of the clients, car makers and the suppliers. Despite being in a position to cater for the needs of all these parties, the company has to consider the finances available and the safety of meeting these demands. A company of it status cannot mass produce substandard quality seats in order to gain quicker profit at the expense of being in business in the future. The objective at this point is to develop products that are time-bound; meaning they are relevant to the demands of the market today (Slack, Chambers, & Johnson, 2016).

Faurecia produces the seats in two parts and packages them in easy-to-ship packages. This gives suppliers an easy time of making the deliveries. The car seats being in two separate parts also means they are easier to fix and more appealing to the clients. This is something Faurecia can capitalize on to ensure that their products have a constant marker. This is a bottom-up view of operations strategies.

Analysis

Faurecia managed to change the production dynamic of the company in the two years between 2003 and 2005. During this time there were improvements to the production scope of the company which moved from merely making frames for car seats to making complete seats. The employees were trained to work in specialized areas to increase the rate of production and keep up with competition. The company also invested in machinery to help the employees in lifting heavy parts in a bid to reduce the health risks that they were previously exposed to. There is currently a challenge in the transportation of the car seats to the clients and the car makers. The management of the company needs to shift their administration method from hierarchical to an open door administration style. This will enable the workers to have an equal opportunity to communicate with the management. The implementation of ideas will also be unbiased and the goals of the company will be put before individual and departmental goals. The company should invest in team building activities for the employees to reduce the in-fighting and encourage cooperation in working towards achieving the organizational goals.

The best product development process for Faurecia to use in developing the two-part car seats is the proposal of the idea of selling complete car seats, followed by designing the desired end product. The design is then presented to the carmakers to ensure that the design fits after which mass production is rolled out. The final stage is getting feedback on the quality of the seats and acting on it.

The changes in the company will ultimately lead to a change in the strategy of the company. The focus shifts from mere seat parts production to making complete seats. The company will offer transport services to deliver the finished seats to the car makers as opposed to when the seat suppliers would source for frames form Faurecia and make delivery arrangements.

References

Slack, N., Chambers, S., & Johnson, R. (2016). Operations Management. Prentice Hall.

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