Die Stamping Our Way to Remarkably Better Automotive Parts

Two qualities of automotive parts have stood the test of time. The lighter and stronger the materials used for making a part, the better. Considering the integrity of the automobile as a whole, the quest for the right mix of metals for each particular component is ongoing. The process most relied upon for the manufacture of parts nowadays is die stamping because of its mass production advantage. Also known as pressing, this is the process of stamping shapes from sheets of metal.

High Strength Steels

Towards the end of the 1900s, increasing awareness of the human impact on our planet sped up the search for ways to reduce our energy use. This was most apparent in the automotive parts industry. Safety regulations became stricter. People increasingly want cars that are more environmentally friendly and that operate more cost effectively. Advanced high strength steels developed for the automotive industry are changing the way cars are made.

Steel versus Aluminium

There is constant debate in the automotive industry about whether to use aluminium or steel in the production of automotive parts. Essentially this is a quest for finding material strong enough to be safe for use in automobiles that is formable and cost effective. Most of the top car manufacturers are opting for decisions of which material to be used being made on a part by part basis.

History of Die Stamping

Dating back to 2000BC, with stone-age man beating iron with a hammer to make tools with heated metal resting on a bed or bolster, the idea of stamping metals is not new. Die stamping was first used to produce bicycle parts in the 1890s. Although die stamping produced parts with less durability than traditional forging, there was advantage in using machines to manufacture automotive parts more quickly. As demand for motor vehicles grew, faster production methods were welcomed.

Progressive Stamping

A variety of metalworking methods are incorporated into the die stamping manufacture of automotive parts. Beginning with simple methods like bending the metal along straight lines, there are nine other ways machines are working with metal during the stamping process. Flanging, embossing, blanking, coining, deep drawing, stretching, ironing, curling and hemming each allow progressively more detailed parts to be made.

Improving Automotive Parts Manufacturing

Along with developing steel sheets for die stamping that are thinner and more lightweight than ever while having increased strength, machining is becoming more technologically advanced. Modern control systems and computer aided design and machining along with improved mechanisms for spot-welding, riveting and door-latch making are transforming the automotive parts manufacturing process.

Overall Productivity

Computers are an integral part of numerical control at play in today’s component design and machining systems. Along with advances in automation using computer aided manufacturing, automotive parts can be more productively and cost-effectively produced than ever before. The precision possible through die stamping methods used in automotive part manufacturing going into this millennium is improving productivity and lowering environmental impact.

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Automotive Advertising Agencies Focus on People Using Social Media Vs Product or Price

The role of the automotive advertising agency has changed to follow the new rules of the road on the Internet Super Highway. Newly empowered consumers are no longer limited to shopping for a vehicle using information provided by self serving auto dealers pushing information to them using conventional media like radio, T.V. or newspaper. Social media has allowed car shoppers to gather information from like minded customers before, during and after their shopping and/or buying experience. These online friends are playing an increasing role in the car shopping process and automotive advertising agencies are using them to influence buyers.

The new pull / push nature of the market powered by the Internet requires automotive advertising agencies to focus on people vs. product or price. Car shoppers are following their own agendas when pulling information from the world wide web that no longer requires them to rely on an auto dealer as the source. Today’s online shoppers prioritize people when selecting a dealership they are willing to do business with. That is not to suggest that product and price aren’t important. It simply suggests that all systems start and end with people and that people are the true asset of any auto dealer, automotive advertising agency or vendor!

The most obvious evidence of the priority that people play in the auto shopping/buying/service experience is the explosive growth that social media has enjoyed as a marketing media vs. conventional radio, T.V. and print that used to dominate the automotive advertising landscape. Automotive advertising agencies recognize that people have always preferred to do business with people that they like and social networking has expanded the spheres of influence of car shoppers/buyers to include their online friends.

The market is a conversation amongst friends before, during and after the car shopping/buying/ service cycle. Auto dealers that have friends in the social networking communities are more likely to be invited to participate in the dialogue. More specifically, automotive advertising agencies realize that it is difficult to befriend a building or a website! It is the people that work at the dealership to support their families that have the story to tell to their friends and who will earn the sale — not the Chevrolet, Toyota, Mercedes, etc. — or the extended service hours and weekly specials. Saturday service hours have no appeal if the customers don’t like or trust the people that they are handing their keys to. Having a friend in the car business is a relief that trumps the best process, product or price for the average car buyer.

Automotive advertising agencies also recognize that people play a role in both the real and virtual world showroom experience which will be reflected in the number of units sold and their job performance at the end of the month. First impressions are irretrievable and they are not limited to a large inventory, clean showroom or a dealer centric selling system that processes customers in sales and/or service. The atmosphere in a well run dealership reflects the morale of the staff in sales and service which directly impacts the customers that an automotive advertising agency drives to the dealership.

A smiling sales person, service writer, operator and cashier can’t be forced as a part of policy — much like customer satisfaction can’t be bought or taken for granted by simply offering the best price; it must be earned. It is earned when a dealer or manager appreciates the individual and team contributions of his staff — and tells them so on a regular basis! It is maintained by HR departments and hiring practices that select personality over prior auto sales experience with compensation plans that reflect individual contributions along with job descriptions and defined areas of responsibility that are managed and monitored by a caring management team.

Employee retention is directly linked to customer satisfaction and customer retention and neither can be taken for granted. Automotive advertising agencies are counseling their auto dealer clients to invest in their people before, during and after they are hired to compliment their investments in automotive advertising. It is their people that will represent their dealership and it is their people who will sell their cars and service to a growing list of friends and customers.

Automotive advertising agencies have extended their areas of responsibility to include their involvement in all aspects of day to day operations at an auto dealership. Most selling systems and related processes include a meeting and greeting, an initial manager T.O. to qualify the customer’s needs, an inventory and facility walk, a test drive, a feature benefit presentation, a desking procedure, a manager T.O., negotiations, an F&I introduction, a delivery procedure and service introduction. All of these steps are then supported by a state of the art CRM/ILM, DMS and follow up system. Unfortunately, all of these well thought out procedures are only as good as the sales person who entered the customer into the system and/or who is expected to follow up if not sold or who is relied on to solicit future service and referrals.

All of these actions reflect on the job performance of the automotive advertising agency and they must be addressed as part of their areas of responsibility. Automotive advertising agencies recognize that sales training is all too often limited to a few weeks immediately after the hire and/or some outsourced trainer hired to pump up the staff. Given the complexity of a well planned selling system — as described above — how can a new hire be expected to retain everything that they need to know? Add product information and an understanding of how human nature impacts the negotiation process and — once again — the investment in the people becomes self evident.

There is a paradigm shift taking place in the way that sales and service training should be applied at a dealership and it is up to the automotive advertising agency to insure that it is understood and applied. Forward thinking automotive advertising agencies have discovered that sales and service training can’t be limited to the new hires and or as needed to motivate the staff. It must start in the hiring process by selecting trainable personalities and then integrated into the selling system in such a way that the processes teach the sales person as much as the customer. Buyers and sellers must form a habit to listen and learn from each other before they can presume to sell or buy anything. A sales person does not need to know everything — they simply need to know where to find the answers that are relevant to the customer to move them through their buying decision.

Automotive advertising agencies often rely on new technologies to provide efficiencies applied to proven old world wisdom. New mobile sales applications are being developed that promise to provide a salesperson with the right information at the right place and the right time which will integrate training into the sales process. The key is to focus on the people part of the presentation supported by the processes, products and the price rather than the other way around.

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