The case describes issues related to supply chain quality and how they evolve in the context of a multi-tiered global supply chain. The case involves a global multi-tier automotive supply chain made up of one of the world's largest automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), its tier 1 supplier that is also a U.S.-based global corporation and the tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 suppliers based in India. With Automek's engineering support, Agile had developed many parts successfully for the OEM in the past. Based on this experience with the company, Automek buyers placed an order with Agile for a new product (an actuator assembly). In developing this product with little support from Automek, Agile was concerned due to its lack of knowledge concerning the suppliers for the actuator assembly components and the critical requirements. To allay its concerns, Automek promised to support Agile by (a) locating the critical global suppliers for specialized components and (b) assessing and validating the critical suppliers based in India on behalf of Agile. Agile then invested in the assembly line and developed the actuator assembly. When supplies started, the OEM reported many quality problems that were traced to the tiered suppliers. Along with the quality and part supply issues, the issues of subsequent liability in the case of a recall by the OEM were faced by the members of the supply chain. Agile felt that since Automek had selected or approved the suppliers, and also as Agile had no knowledge of the product, that Automek should take the responsibility of resolving the quality problems arising from the supplier base. To complicate matters, some of the tiered supply chain members were not willing to invest time and effort in implementing improved manufacturing and process control practices as desired by Automek.
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