News Update: Denso...Continually Improving

News Update: Denso…Continually Improving

A global supplier of automotive technology, systems and components, Denso truly embraces what it means to be global by bringing the Japanese culture to its North American plants and vice versa. As the second largest automotive supplier in the world, operating in 32 countries, Denso lives by the concept of the Japanese term for continuous improvement, or “kaizen.” Babcox editors were exposed to this “kaizen” philosophy at a recent visit to Denso’s Maryville and Athens, TN, plants. The Maryville plant, Denso Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc., resides on 154 acres with 2,500 associates working in the facility. The sprawling facility has three manufacturing divisions: Electronics, Instrument Cluster and Starter/Alternator. Denso Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, Inc., manufactures oxygen sensors, fuel injectors, air flow meters, ignition coils, spark plugs and monolithic carriers. This facility sits on 138 acres and includes 1,000 employees. In all, Denso employs more than 106,000 associates around the globe.

Both of these facilities showcased Denso’s strict quality control measures, rigorous testing procedures, strong work ethic and advanced technology, including the use of robots in the Athens plant.

In the Maryville plant there is a Global Technology Adaptation Concept Activity Area where mock-ups of assembly lines are made using cardboard and wood. Associates “practice” on the line and take ownership of it in an effort to remove waste and time out of the production process.

There are numerous visual and audio aids that serve as a constant reminder of “kaizen” and the global nature of the company. Above all workstations, electronic performance boards hang, showing the productivity rate of the line in which it represents.

The focus on quality and continuous improvement can be seen in the successes Denso has achieved, including savings of $286,416 a year through a copper scrap reclamation process at the Maryville plant and 26 months of no customer returns on starters, making 1.8 million spark plugs a month at the Athens plant, and staying true to the commitment of delivering “First Time Fit” products to the marketplace.

More than 1,400 independent auto stores, service dealers, WDs and their vendor partners attended Fusion ’07, the first-ever Network International Convention, held in February at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

“Fusion ’07 marked the first time Parts Plus warehouses, auto stores and Car Care Centers from across the country assembled with IAPA WDs, jobbers and Automotive Service Professional (ASP) shops to celebrate our partnership and chart our future,” said Network President Mike Lambert.

In addition to business seminars, the convention also featured a question-and-answer vendor forum, with some of the industry’s top executives serving as panelists: Bob Egan, vice president of aftermarket sales for Federal-Mogul; John Washbish, president of customer-relations management for AFFINIA; John Gethin, president and COO of Standard Motor Products; and Frank Ordoñez, vice president of Delphi Corporation and president of Delphi Product & Service Solutions. Babcox publisher Jon Owens moderated the proceedings, while Lambert addressed questions regarding the Network’s stance on industry issues such as proper OE form, fit and function.

The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) is accepting applications for the annual $1,000 Tom B. Babcox Memorial Scholarship. AMI’s resource development effort, EXCEL, in conjunction with Babcox Publications, established the scholarship, which is awarded to an ASA Mechanical Division member who strives to be, or is presently working, in a management capacity.

The scholarship will be applied toward the recipient’s expenses to attend the 2007 Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) in Las Vegas, Nov. 1-3. CARS is sponsored by ASA and offers an educational lineup of AMI seminars, technical courses and industry sessions, an exhibitor showcase and the opportunity to network with other automotive service professionals.

To request a scholarship application, call AMI at (800) 272-7467, ext. 241, or fill out a scholarship application online at Applications must be received by AMI on or before Aug. 17, 2007. The scholarship recipient will be notified by AMI on or before Sept. 7, 2007.

SKF will continue its Pole Position program in 2007, providing technicians around the world access to the latest industry training and trends.

The Pole Position program provides automotive technicians with the most up-to-date technical information, training literature and product knowledge to help them maintain a profitable repair business. The program also provides technicians with insight into the industry’s future trends and technology, ultimately preparing them for future repair/maintenance scenarios. For more information on the SKF Pole Position program, visit In other company news, SKF recently accepted its third consecutive NAPA Under Car Sales Group Supplier of the Year award. NAPA presented SKF with the 2006 award for the solid and consistent support it provides the Under Car Sales Group through marketing materials, customer service and product sales support. Additionally, NAPA recognized SKF’s dedication to catalog accuracy and overall product support coverage.

Tenneco Expert Plus, an undercar service industry dealer loyalty program, this year will focus on increasing shop profitability and protecting consumer driving safety with its theme “Driving Safety: Driving Business.”

Now in its ninth year, the Expert Plus program provides member shops with a new package of point-of-sale materials, promotions, advertising and training designed to help service providers maximize their profits with Monroe shocks and struts, Monroe brakes, Walker exhaust products, DynoMax performance exhaust, and Rancho suspensions and shock absorbers.

In related news, the Tenneco Technology Tour – including the Monroe Ride & Drive training experience – will visit more than 30 cities in North America during 2007 to help thousands of automotive service professionals explore premium ride control products.

The Technology Tour gives technicians an opportunity to compare the steering, stopping and stability characteristics of vehicles featuring worn OE ride control components and identical models equipped with premium Monroe replacement products.

Since 2000, Business Financial Services has provided funding to more than 8,500 businesses, with about 43% going to automotive service and retail companies. This year, BFS has $60 million available for automotive businesses. This alternative funding program uses proceeds from credit card sales to repay the advance. For more information about funding, call (866) 411-4006.

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