CoBIT speaker: Technology key to surviving 'mind-boggling' change in auto industry

Release Date: March 25, 2019
Speaker Terry Onica w/ CoBIT faculty and staff

Speaker Terry Onica, BSBA'90, sixth from left, with LTU College of Business and Information Technology faculty and staff.
LTU photo / Matt Roush.


Terry Onica, BSBA’90, had plenty to say to Lawrence Tech business students about supply chain best practices March 20 in her keynote speech for LTU’s College of Business and Information Technology Alumni Week.

But first, she had words of encouragement for LTU’s students.

“It took me 10 years to get my bachelor’s (degree),” Onica said, explaining how she started with an associate’s degree at Macomb Community College, started at Oakland University, then was convinced to give LTU a try by her sister’s then-boyfriend, now-husband, who was attending Lawrence Tech.

“I tried it here and I really liked it,” Onica said. “So, you might have lots going on, multiple jobs, a lot of things on your plate, but you can get through this.”

Onica made the most of her LTU degree, working at General Motors, Ford, and Johnson Controls before starting at the manufacturing management software developer QAD in 2002.

“When I started my job at QAD 17 years ago I had never been off the North American continent,” Onica said. “Now I have been to 32 countries.

QAD provides ERP software to 4,000 sites and 300,000 users, and posted $305 million in revenue in its 2018 fiscal year. It has 1,900 employees in offices in 19 countries.

Onica, whose title at QAD is director of automotive, described how QAD software is managing the “mind-boggling change” in the auto industry, which include adapting to volatile demand, longer supply chains, and compliance with a barrage of industry and government standards.

She also described MMOG/LE, the Materials Management Operations Guideline/Logistics Evaluation, an assessment that analyzes each automaker or auto supplier’s supply chain to maximize quality. The assessment has 187 requirements and emphasizes documenting all processes required to produce a quality product. Any production problems encountered are entered in a transparent database for analysis.

Onica said one frequent roadblock to higher quality is that “people don’t want to document what they do.” But that can cause serious problems if they—and their expertise—should ever be missing from the production schedule.

High-quality manufacturing also takes into consideration everything from equipment failure to natural disasters to labor shortages to geopolitical risks like trade wars.

“The industry is going through major transformation,” Onica said. “Technology is the key to survival.”

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