“This year German cars have once again come top in the quality and reliability rankings, right across the board from AutoMarxX and the ADAC breakdown statistics to the TÜV Report. These successes are the result of the German automotive industry’s untiring efforts to continue raising the quality of its products and processes,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was speaking at the automotive industry’s tenth Quality Summit, being held by the association’s Quality Management Center (VDA QMC) in Berlin today and tomorrow. The Quality Summit is the industry’s most important quality symposium in Europe and is attended by high-calibre guests every year. In addition to numerous representatives of the automotive industry, the speakers include European Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Cornelia Yzer, Berlin’s Senator for Economics, Technology and Research.
Wissmann drew attention to the high speed of innovation in the German automotive sector: “The German automotive industry puts quality into practice. We have to work hard on this every single day. We invest over 20 billion euro in research and development every year.” He added that the German automotive sector therefore accounted for more than one third of all industrial research activity.
“Top quality, very dynamic innovation and long-term internationalisation – these are the core components that have been determining the success of the German industry for years. We are speaking not of just a few major corporations. First and foremost it is the small and medium-sized companies that always venture beyond national borders and onto the world’s markets. Germany has twice as many business actively involved in exports as France, for example,” Wissmann explained.
German strength in exports was, however, currently coming in for international criticism. “Germany stands accused of increasing the existing imbalances in Europe with its trade surplus. Domestic demand in Germany is allegedly too weak. But one thing is clear: our trade surplus is not the result of political interventions in the market, but of competitiveness that we have to work on every day. Competitiveness does not come about by one country being “punished” for its export activities, but by creation of the conditions needed for growth and rising employment in as many European countries as possible. This includes most importantly structural reforms and budgetary discipline in every single country. The recipe is to strengthen the weak, not to weaken the strong. If Germany is expected to display economic solidarity with its European partners, the capability of our country should not be called into question,” the VDA president emphasised.
The VDA’s ever stronger international orientation was demonstrated by the QMC, Wissmann underlined, adding: “For some years now we have had QMC offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Moscow. So also on these growth markets we offer our member firms – and the local supply chain – the services that our members expect from us in the customary excellent quality.”
For example, acting either alone or as an IATF member, the QMC had not only established important quality standards such as the ISO/TS 16949, but has also continued developing them as benchmarks among QM system standards.
Global certification by the auditors trained at the QMC ensured high quality standards all over the world, Wissmann stated. The QMC’s extensive publications in German and English were in great demand around the world, and already over 4,500 auditors had been trained by the QMC and its licensees. “This work is also recognised by manufacturers and suppliers. Today the VDA is regarded around the globe as the assessor for topics concerning quality,” Wissmann stressed.
The challenges facing quality managers will be covered in detail at the Quality Summit, which was opened by VDA Managing Director Dr Ulrich Eichhorn. For the first time the event adds a particular highlight alongside numerous specialist presentations: the VDA QMC summit fair, on an area of 1,500 square metres.
Today and on Tuesday the event will welcome high-ranking experts in development and quality management, including guests from BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and the supplier Robert Bosch, who will take a range of perspectives showing how to put quality into practice and shape the future.