The Morpheus guide to Lean Supercars YOU should be driving in 2013
Now that summer is almost upon us, for many people it’s inevitably time to take a look at one’s driveway and ponder the hopelessness of life; just how DID I end up driving an SUV?
The economy just grew by 0.3%, we avoided the triple dip and HR Owen shares are up a whopping 12%- so why not take yourself down to one of those fancy showrooms and blow your next few end-of-year bonuses in style?
Move aside Top Gear- Morpheus is here to help!!
Of course, taking motor purchasing advice from a recruitment firm specialising in Change and Transformation isn’t the first thing you might think of; but we can assure you that whilst those ageing buffoons on BBC2 are throwing the latest and most heart-wrenchingly-awesome cars in rivers and racing around shopping malls in Scarborough, we’re making sensible decisions FOR YOU based upon our sound knowledge of LEAN and Operational Excellence principles in the automotive sector- so at least we know if the cars due for release in 2013 we choose are well made!
Tenuous maybe, but let’s give it a go…
Toyota is the grand-daddy of lean manufacturing, having developed the Toyota Production System (TPS) between 1948 and 1975. The principles of this system were simple- eliminate waste through maintaining consistency and correctly utilising capacity by avoiding over-burdening. This means that Toyota’s production lines were highly efficient, and that they set the pace for the automotive industry for years to come. Most of the Lean and Continuous Improvement techniques we see used across all industries from Financial Services to FMCG depend upon the original principles of TPS- the Toyota, therefore, has unrivalled heritage.
So how does the GT86 perform? It looks pretty snazzy, and comes from a long line of front engine rear wheel drive sports cars; but with only 200HP under the bonnet and a top speed of around 135 mph, perhaps Toyota’s lean-slimming methods have gone a bit too far this time?
Porsche 911 GT3
In terms of Lean, Porsche has been through somewhat of a ‘cultural revolution’:- as cited by FORTUNE magazine in 2009, when the Porsche CEO Wendelin Weideking was named Businessman of the year. Weideking noted that Porsche as a company was badly infected with antiquated production methods- almost 20% of its parts were delivered to the production line late by 3 or more days. The visionary CEO (who is reported to spend his free time driving around his potato fields in a vintage Porsche tractor, despite his $100m salary) flew in a team of Japanese TPS expert consultants and began a top-down lean transformation, personally performing his own Gemba walks… Porsche also has its own consulting division, which is highly regarded in the space.
Any 911 is going to be a dream-car for most car-lovers; it tops out at 196 mph and looks as good as any Porsche, well, ever. 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds is probably enough to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing too…
BMW believe that lean manufacturing alone is not enough these days in the automotive world, opting instead for what they label ‘flexible manufacturing’. What exactly IS flexible manufacturing then? Well, details are sketchy; but it’s generally geared towards a prediction that customers are more and more interested in custom, made-to-order cars. Indeed, in 2008 70% of BMWs sold were built to customer specifications. Therefore BMW has decided that it must learn to cherish the customer’s individuality, and build a production process around this variable. Flexible Manufacturing allows BMW to offer a broad range of factory-installed options that can be ordered individually, whilst mass-market car-makers cut back on variety. It builds the majority of its vehicles with specific colours, features and options the way customers order them from a BMW dealer. There’s got to be some Lean elements in here, like just-in-time production for instance; why won’t they just admit it?
The M3 will undoubtedly be spacious. It will surely be comfortable. There will definitely be an extremely complicated in-car entertainment system. You can even order it in metallic Fuscia, if you so wish. But it’s still an M3, and that’s just a bit dull when you’ve got to drive it home and tell your wife the family holiday’s just been cancelled…
I have, it’s kept me up at night for years, but this has never been a problem for Audi- they won it two years on the trot a few times, and haven’t looked back.
“We use our employees’ creative ideas when designing and realizing our production system. The continuous process of improvement at Audi succeeds thanks to each and every employee’s initiative and commitment,” Says Peter Kössler, plant manager of the Ingolstadt production site. “Winning the Automotive Lean Production Award once again provides recognition for our team.” Sweet.
Audi has instigated workshops near to their production lines- where it allows its employees to independently and promptly implement ideas which enhance ergonomics or “poka-yoke” measures (error avoidance). A great idea which has since been adopted is a bolt dispenser: it automatically supplies an employee with the exact number of bolts they need to complete a task. This saves time and helps to reduce errors.
The R4 is a £25k baby supercar which is going to turn heads. Launch date is as-yet unknown, but it looks like the R4 is going to be a gutsy baby brother to the R8. Problem is that you’ll always be that guy who wanted the real thing, but couldn’t quite stretch to it. Think you can stand it?
Bentley Flying Spur
Let’s be frank- Bentley’s are stupid, and if Mario Balotelli doesn’t look cool in one you don’t either. Moreover, despite some in depth research (a few hasty Google searches conducted over lunch), we couldn’t find a trace of any Lean expertise within the Bentley operation. Don’t buy one.
(Editor’s note: surely this can’t be the case. If you know more, then please write to us and set the record straight- we’d love to hear from you!)
Alfa Romeo 4C
Rumour has it that Alfa Romeo is in the throes of a takeover by Volkswagen. This can only mean good things for lean-car lovers because VW are German- and Germany is arguably the hottest market in the world for lean practitioners right now.
(Editors Note: here at Morpheus we are actively working on a number of Senior CI roles in Germany, and are always looking to expand our presence in the region- so if you’re a German-speaking candidate or have specific CI needs, then get in touch!)
Whether this works out or not, Alfa are already recognised as a strong lean manufacturer. Their Pompigliano d’Arco plant is also a proud recipient of the coveted Automotive Lean Production Award (though currently they’re building the slightly less-cool Fiat Panda).
The 4C is undoubtedly a special car, particularly when dressed in its smartest outfit- a ‘Carrara White’ matte-finish with contrasting carbon aerodynamic kit. Or you can just go for plain Alfa Red. Selah.
There are always going to be comparisons drawn between Honda and Toyota, them both being reputable Japanese manufacturers with a glowing history of manufacturing excellence, however there are arguments to say that Honda is even more lean than Toyota.
Honda is much more reserved than Toyota, but they have extremely high technical competence and a focussed and dedicated effort on Lean. They choose not to pursue the PR effort and spin on Lean that Toyota sustains- they just get on with it, and very well too. Honda’s small engines, amongst other technologies, are often considered to be superior to Toyota’s, but Toyota has a slightly better reputation for reliability and warranty.
Honda invests it’s efforts in customer focus, using the scientific method of problem solving, standardized design / knowledge re-use, 3P (production preparation process), quick changeovers, and respect for people. I expect that you would find a lot of the same principles in a Honda plant you would find at Toyota.
So what about the NSX? You can pre order it now, and we’re told (by Honda) it will have a hybrid all-wheel-drive system- meaning (according to Honda) that it will deliver handling and performance unrivalled by any system ever invented ever. Compelling stuff.
Mercedes SLS AMG E-cell
Mercedes set out their lean stall with a quote from Gottleib Daimler, Mercedes founding father; ‘the best, or nothing’. Pretty cheesy, but at least they’re trying. Another source from Mercedes Benz puts it across with a little more detail, “For us, [it] means we want to deliver the very best in all areas – be that in research and development, production, sales, service and aftermarket business or in purchasing.”
Engine production and transmission is an area within which Mercedes has been recognised for outstanding work on a number of occasions, as explained by Andreas Engling, head of transmission production at the Untertürkheim plant, “Thanks to individual solutions and fast networking, at transmission production we have been able to increase our efficiency by 30% within three years, while continuously improving quality. Now we’re going to consolidate these increases in efficiency and improve them by means of rigorous shop floor management.”
We love the E-cell. The gullwing doors are a knockout feature, and as with all Mercedes cars you know it’s going to be tough to beat on the track. And even though its battery powered (don’t laugh) it still can achieve a top speed of 155 mph. Major problem is obviously range, which is about 130 miles. Whilst it may not be the most practical of beasts, it sure is a head turner.
Which one would you pick? Give us your thoughts and dream car choices via our Linkedin group ‘Leaders of Change’, or give one of our petrol-heads a call on 0203 589 0808. We also do recruitment too, so if you’re a change practitioner looking for a new interim or permanent opportunity then please get in touch- we’d be happy to help.