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Carmakers and suppliers have met at an emergency summit in the US to brainstorm options for extending current supplies of the PA-12 resin used in automotive components following extensive damage to the Evoniks Industries facility, which supplies half of world's demand of the material.
As reported last week, an explosion and subsequent fire has closed the Evoniks CDT plant at the Marl Chemicals Park near Duisberg in the north of the country, with serious consequences for the global supply of CDT-derived PA-12 resin, which is used in coatings and connector applications in fuel and braking systems.
Last week the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) held an Automotive Resin Summit in Southfield, Michigan, attended by more than 200 representatives from eight OEMs and 50 automotive suppliers, to help the industry quantify the extent of the problem.
The AIAG said that it is now clear that "a significant portion of the global production capacity of PA-12 (nylon 12) has been compromised."
In response, the summit was organised to look at the available options for extending current PA-12 supplies and identifying alternative materials or designs to offset projected capacity shortfalls. The summit also aimed to identify and recruit industry resources needed to technically vet, test and approve the options chosen.
Six technical committees were formed to develop, evaluate and fast track action plans designed to mitigate the impact of the shortfall on both component and vehicle production.
"We have scheduled multiple technical follow-up meetings over the course of the next few weeks that will be hosted and facilitated by AIAG in its Southfield, MI offices," said AIAG's executive director, J Scot Sharland. "We remain in close contact with supplier associations in Canada, Mexico and the US, and are reaching out to engage additional companies to help move the process along as quickly and seamlessly as possible."
OEMs are continuing to assess of the impact of the shortage on production. "Until the assessment is complete, we do not know if there will be an impact on production," said a spokesperson for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, one of the summit attendees. "Our plants are operating normally and we continue to monitor the situation."
Cooper Standard, which uses PA-12 in fluid handling products such as quick connects and hoses, and which also attended the summit, said that it has a global team working closely with customers, suppliers and industry peers to identify and implement solutions in an effort to avoid interruptions in vehicle production due to the PA-12 situation. However, it said that because situation is complex and evolving, it could not predict any of the future outcomes surrounding the PA-12 shortage. 
In Europe, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said that as the issue concerned purchasing and supply relations, OEMs were dealing with the situation individually.
As reported last week, Opel/Vauxhall has already taken the proactive step of setting up a global working group to deal with the potential setback comprised of GM purchasing, engineering and suppliers.
A spokesperson for ACEA said that it was monitoring developments and was in regular exchange with members to assess what needed to be done in the event of problematic consequences.
Suppliers and OEMs are already having contingency planning discussions with emergency logistics providers to prevent production stoppages.
Neal Williams, managing director of Priority Freight, said that alternative supply solutions are being sought and contingency planning is under way, adding that the company was discussing expedited logistics solutions with its customers.
Williams said that Priority Freight's customers were addressing the problem of supply from a limited number of suppliers but that the problem lay in the complexity of the supply chain and the number of components required. This echoed the AIAG's own point, that in the case of fuel and braking systems, the components were highly-engineered and produced via very complex manufacturing processes.
Brad Brennan, managing director of Evolution Time Critical, said that his company was similarly monitoring the situation and working with customers who are at risk to develop contingency plans should supply become an issue.
"We understand that there are 3-4 weeks in the supply chain, however, this is clearly a major setback for the industry and we know that our customers are looking into alternatives," said Brennan. "Our analysis shows that approximately half of the global supply comes from this facility, highlighting again the dangers of single sourcing which we have brought to the attention of the industry over the past year."
Brennan went on to say that the impact of the disruption has been amplified by the fact that multiple manufacturers are sourcing from the same specialist, something that could be addressed by OEMs and tier ones requesting suppliers to highlight single sourcing as part of their risk analysis.
"We have been working with our customers for some time now to increase their view deeper into the supply chain," he said. "Let's be clear, this event is a tragedy and not one that could have been anticipated by supply chain managers. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned: we need still greater visibility, less reliance on single sourcing at all levels and flexible solutions when disruptions do occur."