HSS Provides Key Supply Support for GM

That’s where HSS Material Management Solutions comes in. Chief Operating Officer Eric Larson describes the job of HSS as that of an “indirect material subject matter expert.” Translation? Products that don’t go directly into a manufacturer’s end product are handled through HSS. Larson said it’s everything from gloves for the workers to safety supplies for people visiting. A big part of what HSS does, specifically for the new Delta Township General Motors plant, is stock and supply spare parts in case the manufacturing equipment breaks down.

HSS Plant Manager Andy Cowall stated along with the Delta GM Plant, they’ve implemented what’s called a PFEP, or Plan For Every Part process. This ensures that the manufacturing equipment is online and ready to go at all times. The process starts with a review of all the spare parts on hand. “Each spare part is analyzed based on number of occurrences on all equipment, manufacturer lead time, price and criticality of the part,” Cowall said. Doing this ensures the Delta Township GM plant only has on hand what it needs, and doesn’t overstock itself with what is not useful. Cowall said HSS provides a similar process for other products like safety materials, fasteners and fittings.

As the savvy third party for manufacturers, HSS can keep supply lines open and often running faster and cheaper than they would otherwise. “We are a key support aspect in all of the indirect materials that support the facility, people and machines,” Larson said. This then allows the client to focus on its core business. Some might say that in days of sinking market share, the core business of making cars has never been so crucial.

HSS offers other services for clients. One is material management, which allows companies to keep inventories in check, determine what’s needed and what’s not, and sell back products they don’t use. Supplier management is another service that allows HSS’s experts to manage the multitude of suppliers, becoming the one-stop shop for the client. The third arm is distribution management, which ensures the right products get to where they are needed at the right time.

HSS was started in 1999, and Larson said it was born of a realization that the major manufacturers in the region would start to turn to third parties to manage non-core business functions. The market was obviously there; HSS quickly went from a company with eight to 10 people onboard, to almost 100 employees in mid-Michigan and an expanding list of clients. The success of HSS is proof that cost management for struggling manufacturers confronts indirect materials head-on.

Larson said HSS is focused on “enterprise cost reduction.” What that means is that HSS is always looking for the best price for clients, but also keeping in mind how other potential savings can be realized. It’s a different kind of quality control; HSS can find alternate products that are cheaper, or last longer. “[It’s also] ensuring warranties are captured and taken advantage of, material flow is streamlined,” Larson said. In essence, the little things are taken care of by HSS so the client can focus on what’s essential.

With its state-of-the-art design, the new Delta GM plant is proof that modern automotive production depends on technology to keep it moving forward. The respect for technology also aids clients of HSS. Online business tools are available to help business monitor and control spending. HSS also customizes a catalog from which manufacturers select their products.

We all know running a business these days is expensive, and the manufacturing industry has never been hit so hard. That’s why controlling the indirect costs is essential, and that’s why HSS is here today. The company’s website says it all: A quote from Ben Franklin advises, “Beware of the little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”

Author: Kate Carolan Reed
Photography: Terri Shaver


HSS Material Management Solutions

Andy Cowall, Plant Manager

Eric Larson, COO

3104 S. Creyts Rd, Lansing

989-777-2983 www.hss-mms.com

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