Best Practices for Product Benchmarking for the Automotive Industry

There are few lists that are more impactful to the importance of product benchmarking in the automotive industry than that of iSeeCars. While the automotive research firm is a consumer resource, their review of millions of recalls issued over the past 31 years has a profound impact on how manufacturers approach benchmarking.

Product Benchmarking, also referred to as “best practice benchmarking” is an evaluation process of a manufacturer that is measured against the process of its competitors or peers within a given industry. The goal is to create and implement improvement plans and best practices to increase performance in the production lifecycle, and/or other manufacturing and business processes and practices. By discovering the best achievable performance, process gaps can be eliminated.

While product benchmarking in the automotive industry traditionally involves other manufacturers, its primary purpose is to positively impact internal processes. Consequently, benchmarking can be based on internal measurement where cooperative manufacturing process benchmarks of other manufactures is a secondary measure. This goes to the heart to understanding the purpose and use of benchmarking. Often benchmarking is focused on the manufacturing process itself to:

  • Improve quality
  • Decrease manufacturing times
  • Reduce Scrap and rework
  • Increase production

Clearly in any benchmarking study, the choice of which attributes to measure is of paramount importance. This centers on a set of performance measures and often how closely a plant adhered to the “lean production model”. This would involve three primary areas including productivity, quality and time. From this the following best practices can be applied for benchmarking to ensure the right approach and the right outcome measurement.


  1. Obtain a detailed understanding of current process performance gaps to determine benchmarking points.
  2. Provide thorough documentation of benchmarking objectives and scope.
  3. Generate thorough current process documentation to avoid waste of time and resources as well as lossof project focus.
  4. Deliver primary metrics agreement to gauge pre- and post-gap analysis, track progress and improvements and institute measurement system analysis. (MSA)

While these are just the primary best practices of benchmarking that effect the widest spectrum of advanced manufacturing processes, it is the manufacturing production lifecycle that is often at the heart of inefficiency concerns in the automotive industry. Increasingly, tools such as 3D laser scanners are integral part of the benchmarking process. These tools are integral to benchmarking that enables identifying, implementing and assessing QA/QC improvements that increase efficiencies, reduce cycle times and ultimately lower costs due to decreased scrap, rework and recalls..


  • James Rawstron

    James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.

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