Manufacturing and Costs

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Bridgetone Industries

Background:

ACF, an automotive supplier, was doing well as a company until foreign competition began to hurt its cash flow. ACF primarily caters to the domestic auto market and therefore experienced a hit to its production contracts post 1985 when the domestic automakers lost marketshare resulting in a shrinking cost inflow for ACF. This caused ACF to analyze the current cost structure of ACF’s products and appropriately classify them in terms of world class competitive position and potential. The resulting classification of the products were as below:

Class 1: Fuel Tanks
Class 2: Manifolds, Front and Rear Doors
Class 3: Muffler-exhaust systems and oil pans

The evaluation also found that overhead was 435% of DL dollar cost, which is excessive. Consequently, ACF outsourced the its Muffler-exhaust systems and oil pans in 1988 in order to stay competitive in its product line up. 60 DL jobs and 30 indirect jobs were slashed. Reducing downtimes and improving efficiency in the assembly line improved productivity.

In spite of the above corrective measures, the manifolds were further degraded from Class 2 to Class 3 and a move to outsource their production. And in spite of all the above measures, the plant was still losing business. The plant manager is looking for more options to stay competitive.

Analysis:

Looking at Exhibit 2 price chart for Bridgeton, there are two major problems with the way the cost is laid out in the chart 1. The costs are aggregated by year and not by the individual products. 2. The above is further complicated due to the fact that the overhead costs are aggregated across the various product lines offering no clarity on the volumes of the overhead resources needed by product. Further analysis of the overhead cost structure shows even though the Class 3 products have been outsourced, the overhead still remains high and even goes from than the previous already high 435% to 563%. Estimating 1991...
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