Production ramp-up in European automotive production systems: a performance analysis
Many new model launches in Europe do not meet the quality, cost and production targets set by automotive companies during production ramp-up. Although increasing car complexity could be a key factor in explaining this issue, it is not sufficient to explain why production sites are not able to meet these important targets. This article analyses whether the production system used in European car manufacturing plants are suitable for achieving performance goals during the production ramp-up phase. First, the differences between serial production and the production ramp-up phase are analyzed through the conceptual framework of the European Production System in the automotive industry. Second, a case study using real data from a European automotive plant is presented, and the evidence calls into question the appropriateness of maintaining the same production system during the ramp-up phase. The study concludes that there is a need to make the production system in Europe more flexible during the ramp-up phase. In particular, changes should be more oriented towards fostering organizational improvement capability in order to reduce the stops that occur in the production line, avoid using pull systems as a constraint or limitation, and help to build a new culture of stopping to fix problems.