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Automotive Supplier Launches Continuous-Improvement Efforts

Improved manufacturing technology and better customer service are the aim of two continuous-improvement developments recently announced by automotive supplier Freudenberg-NOK. To address the former, the Plymouth, Mich.-based company says it will build a $14.5 million technology center at its headquarters, with occupation slated for March 1999. The facility will include a material development laboratory, a mechanical test lab, and a noise and vibration lab, as well as facilities to debug new production processes. Most of its 130 employees will be new hires. In a second announcement, Freudenberg-NOK reports that it has developed new customer-satisfaction metrics -- called PATTH (Priority Action Through Team Harmony) -- that focus on 10 key factors identified as the most important by the company's top 20 customers. The PATTH metrics will allow Freudenberg-NOK to track its performance for each customer, benchmark its best practices, and standardize those practices throughout its operations. The measures tracked by PATTH include on-time quotes, technical response and support, cost-target achievement, and defect rates under 15 parts per million.

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