SOUTHFIELD, Mich.-On Oct. 1, U.S. automakers must begin complying with the American Automobile Labeling Act, placing on new cars labels containing precise information on U.S. and Canadian content. Last January, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, automakers also became responsible for certifying U.S., Canadian and Mexican vehicle content to qualify for tariff reductions.
Bob Montag, a product development executive with Goodyear, is helping auto and auto parts makers through the thickets of both laws.
Since July 1993, Mr. Montag has been working full time with the Auto Industry Action Group as an associate director, coordinating a task force on developing a content reporting system for parts suppliers to use with their auto manufacturing customers.
Mr. Montag also is coordinating the task force that is developing guidelines for compliance with ``QSR 9000,'' a set of quality standards based on ISO 9000 for use by the U.S. auto industry and its suppliers.
``I've spent the bulk of my career in research and development,'' Mr. Montag said about his decision to accept an 18-month assignment with the AIAG. ``I wanted more involvement on the business side, and this is an opportunity for me to apply my technical knowledge to the business side.''
The AIAG is a non-profit association designed to help the North American auto industry improve production through technological innovation, improved business practices, guideline and standard development, and education and training. It has more than 800 member companies, representing domestic and transplanted auto and truck manufacturers and many of their suppliers.
AIAG members receive one free copy of each standard or program developed by the association, with the opportunity to buy more, according to Mr. Montag. The programs are available in hard copy and in software, with educational and training seminars to support them.
For instance, the AIAG plans a one-day seminar on content reporting, with presentations by U.S. Customs Service officials and financial analysts.
Mr. Montag expressed particular pride in his work on QSR 9000. ``It's a commonization of the quality assessment process, so each manufacturer will use common assessment procedures,'' he said. ``We hope it will reduce costs to their supplier base, since suppliers won't have to comply with separate specifications from each automaker.''
The QSR 9000 task force has developed several manuals covering different aspects of the standards, according to Mr. Montag. These include ``Statistical Process Control,'' ``Failure Modes and Effect Analysis,'' ``Advance Product Quality Planning'' and ``Production Parts Approval Process.''
A 30-year veteran of Goodyear, Mr. Montag was director of product development at the company's Luxembourg Technical Center before he joined the AIAG. His appointment to the association ends in December; after that, he expects to go back into R&D for Goodyear, either at the Akron headquarters or one of the subsidiary operations.