The Schaeffler Group has received an Achievement Award in the 'Supply' category from Toyota in recognition of the quality of products and services supplied by Schaeffler.
At Toyota's Annual Business Meeting 2009, held in Brussels, Schaeffler was one of only four suppliers to receive the Achievement Award in recognition of supplier performance. Dr Peter Pleus, President of Schaeffler's Engine Systems Division, says: "It is a fantastic success indeed to win this kind of recognition from a company that is well known for being a particularly discerning customer."
A technical example of a Schaeffler product supplied to Toyota was on display at the awards ceremony. This hydraulic lash adjuster was developed by Schaeffler for engine valve trains. Ensuring automatic valve lash adjustment, this component is used in Toyota's new ZR engine, a four-cylinder, 1.6 or 1.8-litre petrol engine installed in the Toyota Auris and Avensis models.
Compared with Toyota's previous ZZ generation of engines, the ZR engine reduces fuel consumption by up to six per cent. This is achieved by incorporating variable valve control, as well as optimising friction.
A special technical characteristic of Schaeffler's hydraulic lash adjuster is a ceramic ball that is used inside the component for the check valve. This places even higher demands on the manufacturing process. It was therefore not the innovative capabilities of Schaeffler alone that were decisive in receiving the award – quality and delivery also played an important part.
Traditionally, Schaeffler is seen as a dependable partner of the automotive industry, becoming involved in numerous processes early on in the development stage with many automotive manufacturers. This is also the case with Toyota. One example is the hydraulic lash adjuster project, which was launched in early 2006 and culminated in the start of volume production in Autumn 2008.
Dr Pleus explains: "Close dialogue with our customers gives us the opportunity to fully focus our innovative capabilities on that company's specific requirements. For example, we managed to successfully integrate the ceramic element suggested by Toyota into our own manufacturing process."
In presenting the award to Schaeffler, Toyota also recognises the success of Schaeffler's production process. Dr Pleus notes: "The excellent results achieved in audits and project evaluations arose from the strong, interwoven collaborative effort between Schaeffler's project management, sales, development, production and quality assurance teams."
For Toyota and other automotive companies, quality starts as early as possible by selecting suitable suppliers. After all, a vehicle is only as good as the sum of its individual parts. Each of these makes a decisive contribution to overall quality – and therefore to customer satisfaction.