Automotive Sequencing Companies: A Complete Guide

Steve Schlecht
April 9, 2024
Automotive sequencing operations in a warehouse

What is Automotive Sequencing

What is automotive sequencing? Behind every successful car manufacturing process are third-party logistics companies like Buske Logistics that organize and provide light assembly of parts for auto manufacturers prior to production.

This happens off-site at an independent logistics company. The process is straightforward. The general steps are:

  1. Order: The automotive manufacturer sends an order to the provider of automotive sequencing.
  2. Sequencing: The parts are sequenced correctly in the right order for the forecasted vehicles coming down the production line.
  3. Shipment: Sequenced parts are shipped to automotive manufacturers.
  4. Assembly: Parts are assembled into the vehicle.

Becoming an Automotive Sequencer

While these are high-level steps, there are many parts to becoming an automotive sequencer. For example, Ford’s In Line Vehicle Sequencing program will identify companies like ours to provide sequencing for their parts vendors. You have to be approved. The manufacturer will refer their vendors to us or the supplier will find us to provide a bid for their sequencing business. After that, there’s a bidding process from the parts vendor to the sequencer to win their business shipping to the auto manufacturers.

The Importance of Automotive Sequencing

Automotive manufacturing has always been about precision and timing. Automotive sequencing helps manufacturers like our client, Ford, reduce inventory costs and increase production efficiency by outsourcing work that doesn’t need to happen at manufacturing plants.

Keys to a Successful Automotive Sequencing Program

There are various components from our experience working with the major OEMs that make a successful automotive sequencing program.

Some of them include:

  • Just in Time (JIT): A method that reduces inventory costs by receiving parts only as they're needed in the production process, which is why it’s outsourced.
  • Sequenced Parts Delivery (SPD): Parts are delivered in a sequence that matches the assembly process, reducing the need for storage.
  • In-line vehicle Sequencing (ILVS): This strategy sequences the assembly of vehicles according to sales demand, ensuring a flexible and responsive production line.
  • Just-In Sequence Solutions (JIS): Tailored solutions that allow parts to be delivered directly to the production line in the precise sequence needed, minimizing downtime and enhancing efficiency.

The key thing to know about automotive sequencing is that it’s optimized for service and cost.

You will primarily see automotive sequencing programs close to car manufacturers so parts can be replenished quickly. Additionally, it will be parts that have light assembly that can be outsourced and do not require heavy tooling.

Technical Deep Dive: How Automotive Sequencing Works

Below are steps to how Automotive Sequencing works at Buske Logistics.

  1. An RFP: A supplier to car manufacturers receives a bid to supply parts.
  2. Identify an automotive sequencer: The supplier reaches out to sequencing providers previously vetted by auto manufacturers as a requirement to work with them. Typically, they will contact our automotive program director or a Buske executive.
  3. Selecting a provider: The supplier receives bids to provide the work and then selects a logistics provider.
  4. Inventory movement: Parts are shipped to the sequencer to store their inventory prior to any orders.
  5. Order: Buske receives an order from the manufacturer’s ERP system (SAP’s Automotive Module as example) and correctly sequences it.
  6. Shipment: Buske then ships the sequenced orders to the automotive plant on the requested arrival date.
  7. Assembly: The parts are placed at the right step in the manufacturing line and then added to the vehicle as it comes down the production line.

An additional resource is a visual example of Buske’s Automotive Sequencing program.

Companies That Use Automotive Sequencing:

  1. Visscher-Caravelle: Visscher-Caravelle is one of Buske’s clients, will send us car mats. We will sequence them in the correct order before they are placed in the vehicles at the right step in the assembly process.
  2. ZF Group (Tier 1 Supplier): ZF Group is another example. They make various components for front and rear axel systems. They will send Buske Logistics front and rear axles, shock absorbers, and brakes to be sequenced correctly.
  3. Ford (Manufacturer): Almost all automotive manufacturers will rely on 3PLs that can sequence. They have a small and preferred group of vendors like Buske Logistics that they tap into to outsource this process.

Challenges and Solutions in Automotive Sequencing

Challenges facing the automotive sequencing process include global supply chain events, like the Suez Canal disaster that stopped trade for weeks.

Trade wars with countries like China make it more expensive to produce automotive parts, which shifts production supply to countries like Mexico. This creates new needs to ship the sequencing of parts to other areas of the United States because previous locations were not optimal to ship from.

Future Trends in Automotive Sequencing

Technology

The future of automotive sequencing lies in leveraging predictive analytics and AI to further optimize the sequencing process. Sequencing software solutions such as Insequence, which is what we use for sequencing at Buske Logistics, can also help with this process. Additionally, the shift towards sustainability and green processes represents a significant area of development, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of automotive manufacturing. An example being removing extra mileage from a supply chain.

Labor

Labor is becoming more expensive around the world. Manufacturers have an incentive to expand margins to create the most profitable vehicle.

As we hear it from our clients and the automotive manufacturers we speak to, automotive sequencing programs will continue to expand as more parts are outsourced to be sequenced prior to assembly.

Mexico

As recent trade wars have impacted China, many companies are relocating automotive supply chains to Mexico.

Thus, this requires programs to shift where parts are sequenced prior to assembly in accordance with Just-In-Time replenishment.

Conclusion

Automotive sequencing is a critical component of automotive supply chains, including the companies that provide the service. Need help with automotive sequencing of your parts? Contacts Buske Logistics. We are more than happy to talk through your options.