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Firm Level Benchmarking

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South African Automotive Benchmarking Club (SAABC)


The South African Automotive Benchmarking Club (SAABC) is a continuous improvement programme, established to support the local auto component industry to achieve World Class Manufacturing Levels through firm-level benchmarking and supporting clustering activities.

The SAABC originally comprised three programmes – the KwaZulu-Natal Benchmarking Club (est. in 1997), the Eastern Cape Benchmarking Club (est. 1999) and the Gauteng Benchmarking Club (est. 2001). These three programmes were public-private partnerships, funded through the Department of Trade and Industry’s Sector Partnership Fund.

In 2004, the SAABC was formally promulgated as a privately funded, non-profit initiative, comprising four chapters – KwaZulu-Natal, Port Elizabeth (formally the Eastern Cape Benchmarking Club), Gauteng as well as East London. The Western Cape Chapter was set up in 2006.

As a privately funded programme, industry led Regional Committees and a National Executive Committee oversee the activities of the SAABC and provide critical input on its direction and focus. The activities of the SAABC comprise firm-level benchmarking and clustering activities.

Firm Level Benchmarking

Using a value chain performance benchmark approach, annual competitiveness benchmarking assessments provide member firms with a clear understanding of their operational competitiveness strengths and weaknesses. The benchmark analyses a firm’s ability to meet and exceed competitor performance levels.

Six market drivers, along with key financial indicators, are benchmarked against both lean manufacturing best practise and against an extensive global competitiveness database. The SAABC’s global automotive database consists of data from South Africa, Western Europe, Central Europe, Australia, Asia, North America and Latin America. The automotive database is further disaggregated into 12 sub-sectors – trim, harnesses, electronics, foundries/forges, JIT assembly, metal forming/pressing, metal fabrication, components, glass, heat transfer, precision machining and plastic moulding.

The firm-level benchmarking methodology, as well as the market driver approach and the associated operational performance measures are outlined below, as are extracts from the firm-level benchmarking assessment received by member firms.

Market Driver Operational Performance Measures
1. Cost Control
  • Total inventory holding
  • Finished goods inventory holding
  • Work in progress inventory holding
  • Raw materials inventory holding
2. Quality
  • Customer return rates
  • Internal reject rate
  • Internal rework rate
  • Internal scrap rate
  • Return rates to suppliers
3. Value Chain Flexibility
  • Customer lead times (ex-finished goods & ex-production)
  • Delivery frequency to customers
  • Manufacturing throughput & process times
  • Machine changeover times analysis
  • Production time lost to machine/tool changeovers
  • Bottleneck capacity utilization rates
  • Lead time performance of suppliers
  • Delivery frequency from suppliers
4. Value Chain Reliability
  • Delivery reliability to customers
  • Production time lost to machine/tooling breakdowns
  • Production time lost to materials unavailability
  • Production time lost to people unavailability
  • Production time lost to quality problems
  • Maintenance profile
  • Age of capital equipment
  • Delivery reliability from suppliers
5. Human Resource Development (Capacity to change)
  • Literacy & numeracy level
  • Employee development/training
  • Suggestion schemes
  • Accident frequency rates
  • Labour unrest downtime
  • Employee turnover levels
  • Absenteeism rates
  • Employee output
  • HIV/AIDS interventions
6. Product Development
  • R&D expenditure & source of R&D
  • Industrialisation lead times
  • Contribution of new products to total sales
  • Life Cycle profile of product range


Extracts from Firm-Level Benchmarking Assessment


Cluster Activities

Strategic Management Sessions

These are annual strategic sessions, held for each chapter, focusing on the latest global and South African automotive industry trends and developments, including assisting firms understand national the latest industry issues, i.e. the firm-level implications of the shift from the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) to the Automotive Production Development Programme (APDP) in 2013.

World Class Manufacturing (WCM) Best Practise Programme

The WCM programme comprises day-long, practically orientated, World Class Manufacturing workshops focusing on Just-In-Time (JIT), Total Quality Management (TQM), and Continuous Improvement (CI) respectively. These capacity building sessions are aimed at a management level, with an increased focus on the practical application of JIT, TQM and CI. Shop floor assessments and reviews of practises and tools in the workplace are undertaken.

Benchmark Focus Groups

The Benchmark Focus Groups (BFGs) are directed initiatives that grapple with key shop floor challenges affecting firms located in particular locations. The priority focus areas are identified during firm-level benchmark assessments and regional quantitative data analysis. Each focus group will consist of companies that identify or experience a common competitiveness challenge in a particular locality. The BFG activities are guided by structured plans aimed at addressing the challenge through cooperative intervention over a fixed timeframe.


The SAABC bi-monthly newsletter explores the latest industry trends and key findings that emanate from the SAABC database and the strategic impact of these on the local automotive industry.

Please click here for sample back issues.

Network Secretariat Function

The SAABC facilitates continual engagement amongst industry representatives around key competitiveness issues. This function encourages the direct exchange of best practise knowledge through connecting companies that have a particular challenge with companies that have successfully addressed that same challenge.

Contact details

Tel: +27 31 764 6100
Fax: +27 86 607 4510
Email: saabc@bmanalysts.com

Services are provided to members by B&M Analysts, a firm specialising in the field of competitiveness benchmarking.