Geely’s involvement in Malaysia has not only been brand deep through PROTON. The partnership between the two has extended beyond the brand, down to PROTON’s suppliers transforming the entire Malaysian automotive manufacturing ecosystem.
Suppliers are the key element in any manufacturing ecosystem. If the parts or materials supplied are not up to par, the fine craftsmanship applied at the final manufacturing plant will not matter in the slightest as the end product will still be of inferior build. Automotive companies need to be cognizant of this and ensure the quality of what comes through their factory door. This has always been the way forward for Geely and now, it is also the way forward for PROTON.
Among many of the improvements made by PROTON, ever since Geely came on board, was to strengthen its relationship with suppliers by chiefly helping them to improve quality, reduce costs and develop new products. One of the key initiatives to help achieve this is by pairing each Malaysian supplier with a Chinese supplier through joint venture and technical assistance agreements. To date, six of the former and five of the latter are currently in effect.
One such supplier who has taken part in this initiative is the Delloyd Group (Delloyd), a leading original equipment manufacturer for a number of major car manufacturers in Malaysia. The company was formed in 1984, in tandem with the establishment of PROTON and has continuously been supported by the national car maker. Delloyd produces a wide range of plastic, polymer and electronic parts for PROTON, including door mirrors, door handles, sun visors, switches, lamps and other functional parts such as power windows. They hold a great sense of pride as a supplier for the national car brand and is completely supportive of the government’s efforts in turning automotive into a strategic industry that serves as a catalyst for domestic industrialization.
Delloyd has stood by PROTON’s side through thick and thin. Even when sales were dwindling, the company never backed away and have always given the utmost priority in supplying for PROTON. This level of loyalty obviously had its rewards and when the partnership with Geely was announced, there was much for the company to gain. Through the supplier matchmaking programme, Delloyd enters into an agreement with an existing supplier for Geely in China. Both companies are to work together in the transfer of knowledge and expertise that not only improve production processes and quality, but also expand each party’s product portfolio.
As a result, Delloyd now has access to technologies that were not previously available in Malaysia, such as the fuel pump module, making them a pioneer in the local market. This places them ahead of their competition in marketing enhanced versions of existing products or totally new offerings, thus helping the company increase its marketability within and beyond domestic borders. Meanwhile, their Chinese counterpart have now acquired the technical know-how on making parts for the right-hand drive market, enabling them to grow their business to right-hand drive markets. It is an all win situation for all parties concerned, including PROTON, who gets much improved parts.
Besides this collaborative initiative, Delloyd also benefits from Geely’s highly-stringent quality control process. Known as Supplier Quality Engineering or SQE, Geely regularly sends their SQE teams to visit and inspect the quality of output from suppliers. The standards applied by the Geely SQE team are highly-regarded and is comparable to that of Volvo’s. Once complied and satisfied, the respective supplier will be upgraded to a Geely Approved Supplier status, which will in turn reduce the cost of testing as there is lesser need of testing for approved suppliers. Delloyd is proud to have achieved this status.
Another local supplier that has benefited from the partnership between Geely and PROTON is HICOM Teck See Manufacturing (HICOM Teck See), a leading manufacturer of precision plastic injection moldings for the automotive sector. Their product range includes front and rear bumpers, cockpit modules and door modules. The company was incorporated in 1991 to support PROTON but has now grown by leaps and bounds, achieving ISO 14001 and AS9100 Rev D for the aerospace industry. They are currently gearing up to produce the bumper module, spoiler, cockpit and floor console for the upcoming local production of the Proton X70 SUV.
Through its partnership with a Chinese supplier that was made possible by PROTON’s long-term thinking in pairing local and overseas suppliers, HICOM Teck See has learned to develop its own slosh module, and is the first company in Malaysia to do so. Through the localization of such components, local car manufacturers may now incur lower production costs due to the elimination of overseas shipping fees and import taxes. Needless to say, this programme has benefited the Malaysian automotive sector at a macro level, in terms of technological competence and cost reduction, and not just for the benefit of PROTON alone.
Apart from tangible improvements, HICOM Teck See has also seen changes in working culture, especially in regards to speed. The Chinese are well known to work at a faster pace and changes have to be applied quickly without causing major interruptions to the day-to-day workflow. HICOM Teck See has to adopt this new trait to keep them in parallel with their counterpart from China, adding to its workplace efficiency. Staff also receive regular training from their Chinese partner, enable them to further cultivate their abilities while improving the local talent pool. A positive impact can clearly be seen in every aspect of the business and its people.
With more frequent engagements from PROTON’s supplier development team and the CEO himself, HICOM Teck See is highly pleased that PROTON is taking the necessary steps to ensure product quality. Vast improvements can already be seen in the recently release facelift models of the Persona, Iriz and Exora. Now, all eyes are set on the upcoming launch of the Proton X70 that will be produced locally at PROTON’s Tanjung Malim plant. HICOM Teck See will be one of the suppliers that will be supplying parts for the car that has already been called Malaysia’s best-selling SUV. Beyond that, they look forward to expanding their business further since PROTON’s collaborative efforts have opened a lot of new doors through new and improved range of offerings.