American, European Auto Suppliers Marry Their ‘Collaboration-Ready’ Networks

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of all these synergies and try to reduce costs and help the suppliers and OEMs still achieve their electronic communications.” ANX was the result.

In 1999, AIAG sold the ANX network to Science Applications International Corp. Today, with more than 4,000 companies as members, ANX runs one of the largest extranets in the world.

“Our friends in Europe, they looked at that model and said this would be great,” says Shanti. So, in 2000, ENX was formed. The European network has more than 1,000 member companies in 30 countries.

The recent collaboration between ANX and ENX was relatively easy because the Europeans built their exchange based the Americans’ standard. So, for example, all the engineering for a small car could take place in Europe, and for trucks in North America, but the supply base might be on either continent. Information can now seamlessly, and securely, go back and forth.

Asia, however, is a different question. China and India, Shanti says, are becoming important players and this kind of data exchange would be important. While they’re talking with their Asian counterparts, nothing is ready yet. Japan has a similar system in name—JNX—but it is based on such different architecture that neither side is yet convinced that a partnership would enable the type of security required.

“You’re dealing with some sensitive product branding, product information, detailed engineering design and documents that you want to be extremely secure,” Shanti says.

In the meantime, Shanti reports, the ANX/ENX collaboration has been incredibly successful since it went online in June. It has even drummed up more business for Detroit OEMs and suppliers.

“A number of companies jumped on it and signed up for new programs in Europe that are being supported from North America,” Shanti says. “We had at least six different suppliers join that network before we went wide with it to collaborate on product design information with a major European OEM that is building facilities here in North America. This thing just took off like crazy.”

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