Welding and painting are critical manufacturing processes for many key components, such as buckets, frames, enclosures and tanks. It's important that Caterpillar employees and suppliers excel in these trades. The Global Purchasing (GP) China Fabrications & Non-metallics team works closely with suppliers to develop and improve welding and painting systems, conduct Benchmarking Guide for Welding Fabrication (BGWF) and Benchmarking Guide for Paint Processes (BGPP) audits and enhance supplier capabilities.
To promote advancement of welding and painting, (GP) China team recently hosted two competitive welding and painting events that included employees from 16 suppliers and three Caterpillar facilities. In addition, Caterpillar engineers from Caterpillar Suzhou, Xuzhou and China Material Technology (CMT) facilities were involved to help judge the competitions.
"Our suppliers have been making great developments in the past years, but we have higher expectations of them," said Frank Li, Caterpillar Asia Pacific fabrications and non-metallics purchasing manager. "We believe friendly competitions among the suppliers and Caterpillar will make our supply base stronger."
The competition questions were developed from common defects of the suppliers' daily production and were focused on tactical skills. Having suppliers and Caterpillar employees compete on the same stage provided welders and painters the opportunity to learn from each other, therefore improving product quality throughout the value chain. Caterpillar's "Zero-Defect" quality culture was promoted throughout the competitions.
"Caterpillar will win with suppliers by offering training and support in our daily operations, instead of setting a goal for suppliers and asking us to achieve on our own," said Mr. Xie, general manager of Jiangyin Hydraulic Oil Tube Co., Ltd. "This is the biggest difference between Caterpillar and our other customers, and we do appreciate the efforts from Team Caterpillar to help us grow."
Mr. Yu, General Manager of Jiangsu Feida Baokai Electric Co., Ltd. said his company plans to replicate the competitions because they are a good way to find areas for improvement.
"They also serve as a more focused mode of training to improve and effectively encourage the employees to learn," he said.
The GP China team will follow up with the suppliers who participated on corrective action plans to help them find quality gaps and produce better parts with lower total costs.
Caterpillar established its purchasing presence in China in 1995. For nearly 20 years, China suppliers have been developing and collaborating with Caterpillar and have achieved significant progresses in technology, process and management. With many suppliers becoming regional industry leaders, Caterpillar is evolving from teaching technical know-how only, to aligning the supplier culture with the company's expectations of a world-class supply base.