A coffee con… Maider Zabala, Supply Chain Manager at Gestamp

My name is Maider Zabala and I am an Industrial Organisation Engineer from the University of Mondragon.

I have developed my professional career as a production and logistics engineer always in the automotive sector, previously in two cooperative companies of the Mondragon group, while at the same time I combined it with teaching in the Industrial Organisation department of the University of Mondragon.

I have currently been responsible for Supply Chain-Logistics for 8 years in the Engineering Department of Gestamp, a multinational specialised in the design, development and manufacture of highly engineered metal components for the main vehicle manufacturers with a presence in more than 24 countries and 115 plants.

L&A: What does it mean to be responsible for Supply Chain within the company, and what is a day’s work in the company like?

Maider: In my case, I am responsible for Supply Chain in the engineering department where we develop, offer and industrialise bodywork, chassis and battery box products. Our team is in charge of carrying out a complete study of the manufacture of the part in terms of material flow: from the moment the raw material enters until the finished part is ready.

A day’s work at Gestamp consists of reviewing the projects underway, holding meetings with the different departments involved, carrying out studies of the offers, simulating the cubing of parts, both components and finished product, receiving visits from suppliers and visiting the production plants.

L&A: Tell us, after more than 7 years of professional career within Gestamp, what do you think are the biggest differences/challenges that the group has faced in the logistics field if you look back on your professional career?

Maider: Since my arrival at Gestamp, I have applied my experience in internal plant logistics to help create the Supply Chain-Logistics department, which aims to standardise the development and supply processes in relation to the Supply Chain of the projects developed in the more than 100 Gestamp plants.

The most important thing has been to establish the working procedure in the development and supply of projects so that the entire flow of material and information is always included. This has been achieved thanks to collaborative work with the teams from the different manufacturing technology departments such as hot stamping, cold stamping, welding, painting, etc., which we implement to achieve the product demanded by the customer.

In the automotive sector we face the challenge of working with product projects whose mass production is going to be in 3 to 4 years. It is very important to be up to date with the present and future situation as it can directly influence the economic offer. Especially in those projects where we take care of the complete logistics of the part and have to include the transport to the customer’s production plant.

Maider Zabala un café con Gestamp
L&A: Imagine if you had to implement immediate improvements in a company in terms of supply chain management, what would they be? Maider: One of the most important improvements, as I mentioned before, is to work together with all the technologies to be able to analyse and develop the best flow of materials along the entire value chain. In this way, you can anticipate possible incidents at the time of production. In our case, we are already doing this with the supply of materials and components at the edge of the production line. We do pre-kitting in the storage area to create kit trolleys for the material loading zones of the various assembly operations. These kit cars will go to the edge of the line by means of an AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle). With the kit trolley in the location created at the edge of the line, the operator will make the minimum of movements and load the parts from a single location. L&A: Is there anything that we have left out that you consider interesting in the professional field of the logistics sector? For example, what trends do you see in the sector, what do you think about a hot topic, a project you are working on, or a topic on which you would like to contribute your bit. Maider: At Gestamp, we are always working towards the continuous improvement of our industrial processes with the aim of achieving operational excellence. To this end, we have carried out studies with a philosophy of improvement and innovation in the field of internal plant logistics. This has led us to an evolution from the traditional use of supply by forklift to an industrial transformation such as the automation of supply by means of automatic guided vehicles or air flow movement by means of Power and Free systems. We have been implementing the latter for years. The result is that the stock generated in the different manufacturing processes is stored at height in different buffers created for this purpose. The introduction of robotic movement increases efficiency and optimises material flows in the plant’s internal logistics. L&A: And finally, life, as time has shown us, is unpredictable. If you had to give advice to the Maider of 5 years ago, what would you say to her? Maider: To the Maider of 5 years ago, I would thank her for believing that she could do the projects that have been proposed to her and for always trusting in teamwork, because it is with my colleagues that I have been able to move forward in my project to advance and create innovation. I would also like to tell him that no matter how much he wants to do everything well, it will not always turn out as he expects, but that it’s OK, because it is from these acts that you learn the most. Finally, I would like to tell her to continue learning and contributing everything she can, as this added value is vital for the company he works for.

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