Managing a Global Supply Chain in the Automotive Industry

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Where Are They Now?

Catching up with an MHEFI Scholarship Recipient

ben brunsAs a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Ben Bruns had opportunities to work as a team member in his co-op positions as well as part of the school’s team that was awarded second place in the College Industry Council on Material Handling Education’s 2016/2017 Design Competition. He credits his experience on the award-winning team and RIT for his awareness and receipt of the Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI) scholarship.

His undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering and master’s degree in engineering management, as well as the practical experience he gained in internships at MHI member The Raymond Corporation and Honda Motors, led to a full-time job at Honda managing quality for several critical components for the main frame of several Honda models.

“I’ve always been interested in being a part of a commercial product that people get to enjoy,” said Bruns. “The automotive industry has provided that, as well as a stable and strong career that offers many directions for my future. The automotive supply chain is vast and very complicated and must work perfectly for mass production to succeed at a high scale.”

In 2021, Bruns accepted a position as a supplier industrialization engineer with Tesla and has had a number of challenges and successes. Bruns manages over a thousand parts sourced from global suppliers that are assembled into Tesla’s vehicles and energy products.

“The supply chain is global and interconnected so I have to be aware of what’s happening everywhere, not just in the bubble of the United States or one region,” said Bruns. “When the Suez Canal was blocked by a ship that had run aground or when attacks on ships in the Red Sea caused ships to divert, the fragility of the supply chain was evident, and you have to be prepared to adjust.”

One of his proudest accomplishments is his work as part of the CyberTruck supply chain team. “It took a lot of people, and I got to see it from design through mass production,” said Bruns. “It is a unique vehicle and was challenging to launch, but it is a huge success so far. I enjoy seeing it in customers’ hands, especially knowing what it took to make it a reality.”

Bruns journey to Tesla in the San Francisco area started in upstate New York where he grew up, then to Ohio to work for Honda. “I played hockey and baseball and cheered for a lot of ‘bad’ teams in New York,” he laughed. “San Francisco has a large adult hockey league, which I was happy to discover. I still play hockey two times a week in a men’s league.”

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